Praise for Wanting What’s Best
“Wanting What’s Best is a no-nonsense, practical guide for parents who don’t want ‘what’s best’ for just their kids, but for all kids. Sarah Jaffe doesn’t mince words in describing how privileged White parents contribute to and maintain systemic racism and classism. But rather than only point out problems, she offers concrete, practical advice on how to push back on and tear down those systems. In discussions of education, activism, and wealth, she provides both individual actions that subvert those systems and organizations that are doing this essential work. To back it all up, she deftly weaves together facts based on research and the stories of fellow parents from a variety of backgrounds grappling with these challenges.”
“We make so many decisions as parents that don’t only affect our children, but have ripple effects throughout the world—the daycares and schools we choose, the conversations we have, the strings we pull. So how do we raise our kids in ways that won’t leave other people’s kids behind? Wanting What’s Bestis an essential roadmap for parents who want to make thoughtful choices that won’t inadvertently perpetuate injustice or discrimination, but that will instead lay the groundwork for a better, fairer future for all.”
“With Wanting What’s Best, Sarah W. Jaffe has written an essential parenting book. But rather than addressing children’s behavior, Jaffe turns her sharp eye to the behavior of parents–clearly and sensibly laying out how parents’ choices can widen inequality and inadvertently make life harder for everyone. Wanting What’s Best is a clarion call to take a more expansive view of family, care, and community, and includes practical steps that parents can take to reframe both their thinking and actions. This is a necessary book for engaging parents in work that we all need to do.”
“Jaffe goes beyond describing the sorry state of modern American parenthood to tackle a more meaningful question: What are parents’ obligations to do something about it? Synthesizing deep research with parent interviews and personal reflections, Jaffe illuminates the painful tension that well-off parents face when it comes to providing an advantage for their already-advantaged children amid broken, inequitable systems. This book is for every parent who wants to know how they can work for a more just society while giving their children a healthy upbringing—and who wants to learn that those goals may be knit closer together than you think.”
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About Wanting What’s Best
Wanting What’s Best: Parenting, Privilege, and Building a Just World addresses the darker side of the common adage, “I just want what’s best for my child.” When privileged parents say that they “want what’s best” for their child, they don’t consciously add, “and not for other children.” Yet the practical effect of parents with privilege relentlessly pursuing their own child’s interests is that other children are left behind.
The book features interviews with dozens of experts and parents to help parents navigate some of the major decisions that they must make—about childcare, schools, how they use their time and money, and the legacy they hope to leave their kids.
It looks at two questions: first, what choices should individual parents make in order to stop perpetuating inequality? Second, what collective action can we all take as a society to make our systems work better for everyone? Sarah tackles the most uncomfortable issues in order to give parents the perspective and actionable guidelines they need in order to make more equitable decisions.
Wanting What’s Best tackles a powerful question: “What would it look like to fight for ‘other people’s children’ as if the future of your own child depended on it?”
Think About Your Parenting Values
Get the Values-Based Parenting Journal (a free printout).
Before you became a parent, you may have dreamed about all the wisdom you were going to impart to your child and all the valuable lessons you were going to teach. Then, you started the all-consuming work of actually being a parent, and all those ideals tend to go on the back burner in the hustle and bustle of the day-to-day.
My hope is that this short journal will give parents of any aged kids a chance to reflect on the role that pressure from our peer group, our families of origins, and the culture at large can play in our parenting decisions, and to think about what values are most important to us as parents and as people.
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Helping parents face & change systemic inequality
I’m Sarah Jaffe, author of Wanting What’s Best: Parenting, Privilege, and Building a Just World. As an attorney for children in the foster care system, I was tasked with advocating for the most vulnerable children in our nation. But once I became a mother, I was troubled by the stark difference between the lives of the children I met at work and the lives of the children I met in her parenting life. Was my only duty as a parent to get “the best” for my own daughter? Or did I have an obligation to try to make decisions that would help make a more equitable society?
In my search for answers, I interviewed parents and experts to understand the key issues in our educational systems (from child care to college), activism, and privileges like wealth, legacy, and inheritance. The result is a book that gives parents straight answers on some of the most complex issues we face, along with actionable ideas and questions to ask to help them make future parenting decisions with perspective, parity, and purpose.