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Raising Generation Rx

Raising Generation Rx: Mothering Kids with Invisible Disabilities in an Age of Inequality

Linda M. Blum
Copyright Date: 2015
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    Raising Generation Rx
    Book Description:

    Recent years have seen an explosion in the number of children diagnosed with "invisible disabilities" such as ADHD, mood and conduct disorders, and high-functioning autism spectrum disorders. Whether they are viewed as biological problems in brain wiring or as results of the increasing medicalization of childhood, the burden of dealing with the day-to-day trials and complex medical and educational decisions falls almost entirely on mothers. Yet few ask how these mothers make sense of their children's troubles, and to what extent they feel responsibility or blame.Raising Generation Rxoffers a groundbreaking study that situates mothers' experiences within an age of neuroscientific breakthrough, a high-stakes knowledge-based economy, cutbacks in public services and decent jobs, and increased global competition and racialized class and gender inequality.

    Through in-depth interviews, observations of parents' meetings, and analyses of popular advice, Linda Blum examines the experiences of diverse mothers coping with the challenges of their children's "invisible disabilities" in the face of daunting social, economic, and political realities. She reveals how mothers in widely varied households learn to advocate for their children in the dense bureaucracies of the educational and medical systems; wrestle with anguishing decisions about the use of psychoactive medications; and live with the inescapable blame and stigma in their communities.

    eISBN: 978-1-4798-0822-9
    Subjects: Sociology, Health Sciences

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
    (pp. vi-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. 1 Mother-Child Troubles, Past and Present
    (pp. 1-34)

    Every book has a moment of conception, even if the period of gestation, as in this case, is a very long one. This book began as a tiny embryonic idea in 1996 when, like so many mothers of children struggling to navigate their social worlds and perhaps “caroming” between “naughty” and “nice,” I scurried to pick up my second-grade son from the after-school program at our quiet suburban elementary school. Once home, he hesitated, but then burst out with his half-secret question, as if he’d learned some new “swear word” on the playground: “Mom? Sean was going, ‘Your mother has...

  6. 2 “Welcome to Your Child’s Brain”: Mothers Managing Dense Bureaucracies, Medications, and Stigma
    (pp. 35-89)

    When I first met Charlotte Sperling, a long-married mother whose three invisibly disordered sons were nearly grown, she announced that she was reading books on the adult ADHD brain and had concluded her husband, too, must suffer from the disorder. Charlotte lamented that her oldest son spoke often of his “bad brain”—and she referred to her own position in the family, managing four disordered males, as “brain central”: “Like I don’t have to be just my brain, I have to be the kids’ brains, but I have to be my husband’s brain too … I amsotired of...

  7. 3 “The Multimillion-Dollar Child”: Raising Kids with Invisible Disabilities in the Context of Privilege
    (pp. 90-136)

    I first met Judith Lowenthal on a gray fall weekday, a month into the school year for her four children. With one each in high school and middle school, and two in elementary school, Judith had asked me to come to her home late in the morning after she’d finished her regular hour-long run. We had scheduled weeks ahead, in and around the Jewish New Year holidays and the studio art and photography courses she attended. Driving through the Lowenthals’ neighborhood of generous, landscaped yards and spacious three-story homes, I smiled thinking of Judith’s directions over the phone when she...

  8. 4 “I Think I Have to Advocate Five Thousand Times Harder!”: Single Mothers in the Age of Neuroscience
    (pp. 137-175)

    Vivian Kotler, a tiny white Euro-American woman with short curly hair and a no-nonsense style, was some dozen years older than Judith Lowenthal and considerably more care-worn. Although we had spoken by phone a few times, we first met in person on an early spring morning, just after she had seen her twelve-year-old biracial daughter, Isabel, to the school bus. I gathered that this was an often fraught process, with Isabel stubborn and oppositional and Vivian offering rewards as one might to a much younger child. We spoke all morning and into the early afternoon in Vivian’s meticulously organized spare...

  9. 5 En-gendering the Medicalized Child
    (pp. 176-209)

    In my interviews with the mothers, we discussed fifty-five focal kids with invisible disabilities—forty-four sons and eleven daughters—a pronounced gender difference in diagnoses that is fairly consistent with national (and international) data. Large-scale studies of psychoactive medication use over the past two decades have shown some convergence, with girls’ rates increasing, but a gender gap remains; and when further examined by age, diagnosis, and drug type, gender differences are all the more striking. Boys are, for example, more than three times more likely to be treated with a stimulant for ADHD.¹ The data on autism spectrum disorders find...

  10. 6 “A Strange Coincidence”: Race-ing Disordered Children
    (pp. 210-236)

    Historically shaped binaries, often drawn on ethnoracial lines, have long measured mothers in the United States, dividing the respectable from the disreputable, the fit from the unfit, the selflessly devoted from those ostensibly too lazy, neglectful, or immoral to raise healthy children.¹ And the children of the disreputable, likely to inherit their mothers’ degeneracy whether through “nature” or “nurture,” were suspect as potentially polluting and costly to the nation.² A century ago, eugenics movements provided the first “scientific” legitimation for such racist beliefs through the fixation on ostensibly biological, evolutionary hierarchies among ethnic, racial, and religious groups, with those least...

  11. 7 Mothers, Children, and Families in a Precarious Time
    (pp. 237-256)

    When I undertook this study of mothers raising kids with invisible, em-brained disabilities, I suspected it would be a complicated story, involving issues of gender, social class, and race, and of educational, medical, and social policy. Still, through long years of research and analysis, I kept realizing even more was involved, most notably the precarious futures for both adults and children in New Economy labor markets, the influence of neoliberal values embracing private market-based solutions to these perils, and the diffusion of neuroscience through our popular culture, reframing our public discourse. The mothers I interviewed were all struggling to do...

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 257-284)
    (pp. 285-302)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 303-310)
    (pp. 311-311)