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Life Under Compulsion



Ten Ways to Destroy the Humanity of Your Child

Anthony Esolen


How do you raise a child who can sit with a good book and read? Who is moved by beauty? Who doesn’t have to buy the latest this or that vanity? Who is not bound to the instant urge, wherever it may be found?

As a parent, you’ve probably asked these questions. And now Anthony Esolen provides the answers in this wise new book, the eagerly anticipated follow-up to his acclaimed Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child.

Esolen reveals that our children are becoming slaves to compulsions. Some compulsions come from without: government mandates that determine what children are taught, how they are taught, and even what they can eat in school. Others come from within: the itches that must be scratched, the passions by which children (like the rest of us) can be mastered.

Common Core, smartphones, video games, sex ed, travel teams, Twitter, politicians, popular music, advertising, a world with more genders than there are flavors of ice cream—these and many other aspects of contemporary life come under Esolen’s sweeping gaze in Life Under Compulsion.

This elegantly written book restores lost wisdom about education, parenting, literature, music, art, philosophy, and leisure. Esolen shows why the common understanding of freedom—as a permission slip to do as you please—is narrow, misleading . . . and dangerous. He draws on great thinkers of the Western tradition, from Aristotle and Cicero to Dante and Shakespeare to John Adams and C. S. Lewis, to remind us what human freedom truly means.

Life Under Compulsion also restates the importance of concepts so often dismissed today: truth, beauty, goodness, love, faith, and virtue. But above all else, it reminds us of a fundamental truth: that a child is a human being.

Countercultural in the best sense of the term, Life Under Compulsion is an indispensable guide for any parent who wants to help a child remove the shackles and enjoy a truly free, and full, life.

“Esolen shows how under the spell of that conjuring word freedom we wrap children in cords of bondage. His Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child was a wonderful book; this is a profound one.” —J. Budziszewski, University of Texas, author of On the Meaning of Sex

Life Under Compulsion is for anyone who wants to understand how thoroughly our contemporary culture has weakened and warped our fundamental humanity. This is at once a deeply entertaining and a seriously impressive book. Dare to approach it with an open mind, and you will not put it down unchanged.” —

“An indispensable gift for any parent who wants to help a child enjoy a truly free and full life. . . . [Esolen] is looking to help parents resist in a healthy way the reigning culture. You name it, he covers it—with wit and understanding. . . . With his help, we can raise our children in a way that frees them from the mediocrity of our present culture and brings them wisdom that is God-given.” National Catholic Register

“The theme of the book is one of the greatest breadth and pressing significance, and the author’s treatment of the topic will give a reader much to consider.” The New American