Family Unfriendly

How Our Culture Made Raising Kids Much Harder Than It Needs to Be


The bestselling author of Alienated America traveled the country asking families and experts the same two questions: Why is parenting so hard now? And why are the results so bad?

Our culture tells parents there's one best way to raise kids: enroll them in a dozen activities, protect them from trauma, and get them into the most expensive college you can. If you can't do that, don't bother.

How is that going? Record rates of anxiety, depression, medication, debts, loneliness and more. In Family Unfriendly, bestselling author and Washington Examiner columnist Timothy P. Carney says it's time to end this failed experiment in overparenting.

Have more kids, have more fun, cancel the travel soccer games, let your kids wander off, and give them deeper sources of meaning than material success. 

This is an old-fashioned view, but every day the evidence validates it. Drawing on rigorous research—both as a reporter and as a dad of six—Carney demonstrates why modern parenting is so misguided. The high standards set for modern American parenting are unrealistic and setting parents—and our kids—up to fail.

Researched over three years and written in between rec baseball games and church picnics where nobody was watching the kids, Family Unfriendly is deeply wise, energetically told, and destined to be the most consequential book about parenting in years.

About the author(s)

Timothy P. Carney is a father of six children, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a columnist at the Washington Examiner. Tim and his wife, Katie, have raised their family in suburban Maryland and Northern Virginia. Tim grew up with three older brothers in Greenwich Village and later in Pelham, New York. He is the author of Alienated America, The Big Ripoff, and Obamanomics


“Americans are overwhelmed by the idea of raising kids—and understandably so. Tim Carney’s Family Unfriendly is the book we all need to understand the problems, and then meet them head-on with hope and joy.” — Arthur Brooks, Harvard Kennedy School; coauthor with Oprah Winfrey of Build the Life You Want

Family Unfriendly is provocative, funny, warm, and moving. Even when Carney and I disagree, he makes me think hard about what kind of writer, mother, and neighbor I want to be. If more lawmakers and institutions adopted the same curiosity and joy that Carney displays here, American families would be a lot better off.” — Alyssa Rosenberg, columnist for the Washington Post

“Tim Carney takes an unblinking look at the impact of contemporary culture on marriage, procreation and demography, and family life. He documents what at some level we all know: our culture—and much of our public policy—is decidedly family unfriendly. The results? Declining marriage rates, fewer children, less childhood happiness, and more parental anxiety. But Carney doesn’t stop there, as so many conservative cultural critics do. Rather, he points the way to reform and renewal.” — Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University

Family Unfriendly is a treasure: studded with valuable facts that every policymaker needs to know; and sparkling with wit that will delight parents and nonparents alike. Anyone interested in creating a happier home, or a better America, should read this book.” — Mary Eberstadt, author of Primal Screams and Adam and Eve After the Pill, Revisited

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