Author: Nature beats nurture when it comes to parenting
May 27, 2011 (WPVI) -- An author/economist says we as parents don't influence our children much in how we raise them. Whoa.
All of those "life lessons" we teach our kids? Don't really matter, says Bryan Caplan.
All those talks about morality, and right versus wrong? Again, Caplan says, doesn't really swing the pendulum either way.
Your kids usually turn out a lot like you, no matter what you do.
I've shared this parenting theory with plenty of people already, and just about everyone disagrees with it. Some have even gotten angry about it.
But Caplan says the evidence, in the form of data on identical twins and adoptees, is on his side. And he says no one who has disagreed with him has presented any evidence to support the contrary.
Here is the story of Selfish Parents:
Bryan Caplan is an economist, an author, and a proponent of a lax parenting style. He says "chill."
Caplan pointed out Amy Chua, better known as the Tiger Mom, saying, "She believes in a strict, regimented, highly active parenting style. Control, control, control."
"I'm not a mom at all, so I've been a little puzzled by people calling me the anti-tiger mom. But you can understand that?"
Caplan, a husband with three children, wrote "Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids." He uses data on identical twins and adopted children, to make the case that we, as parents, give ourselves way more credit.
"Parents really have just an exaggerated idea about how much they're changing their kids," suggests Caplan. "The best evidence we have is, not so. Your influence over how your child turns out is pretty small."
Caplan, who has identical twins himself, found that when identical twins are raised by different families, they still end up similar in personality, health, happiness, intelligence and success.
Meanwhile, Caplan found that adopted children rarely end up resembling their adoptive families.
"The idea that it's the way that we are raising our kids that causes them to resemble their parents is mostly an illusion. Again, if no child was adopted, it would be hard to tell this."
Caplan believes we as parents spend too much time worrying, fretting, and picking apart our parenting styles. He advises us to relax, be selfish, have more kids, enjoy them, and enjoy the ride.
"I cannot responsibly offer any guarantees, but still, the odds are good that your child is going to turn out to be just like you when he grows up."
I asked people on Facebook about Caplan's parenting theory, and it really lit up my comments space. People saying: "What? Are you kidding?" One person even said: "Dumbest thing I ever heard." Join the debate by going to Facebook.
matt o'donnell parenting reports, parenting, matt o'donnell
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