[UCP Books]: Growing Each Other Up: When Our Children Become Our Teachers

“Only rarely does a book on a familiar topic shake your most fundamental assumptions. Thanks to Sara Lawrence Lightfoot’s eye-opening book, I will never think in the same old way about my relation to my four children and my four grandchildren.”–Howard Gardner, Harvard Graduate School of Education


“In a beautifully written book, full of insights from the author and the people she interviews, Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot teaches us how important it is for parents to be open to learning from their children. She teaches us that when we open our mouths to speak, we should be sure that our ears, our minds, and our hearts are open too. This may be the key to being a successful parent, and also to being a successful teacher, doctor, or supervisor.”–Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less

Growing Each Other Up

When Our Children Become Our Teachers

Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot

Publication date: September 27, 2016 International publication date: October 10, 2016
978-0-226-18840-9 $27.50/£19.50


Bookstores are jammed with books on parenting, offering everything from advice to commiseration to heartwarming (or heartbreaking) personal stories. But the vast majority are focused laser-like on the earliest years—on the time when our children are children.

But what about what comes next? How do we approach the years when our children move beyond childhood—when the established roles of parent and child are transformed and what used to be a one-way flow of instruction and support begins instead to be an exchange? It can be the ultimate reward for a parent—but it can also be extremely tricky terrain for both parents and children to navigate.

That’s where Growing Each Other Up comes in. Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, a Macarthur Prize–winning sociologist and educator, offers here an intimately detailed, emotionally rich account of that experience. She builds the book on a series of in-depth interviews with parents in a range of situations, revealing the many ways in which our relationships to our adult children change—and grow—with time. What lessons do we take from them? How much do we learn from what they have experienced of life that we never have? Growing Each Other Up is rich in the voices of actual parents, rooted in actual experience; its stories are moving, powerful, and full of lessons.


Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot is the Macarthur Prize–winning author of eleven books, including The Essential Conversation: What Parents and Teachers Can Learn From Each Other. She is the Emily Hargroves Fisher Professor of Education at Harvard University.


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