Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Economist's Guide to Parenting

My husband Evan has been telling me about this Freakonomics podcast regarding the influence of parents on children.  He could have posted this himself, but he was doing the dishes (here's basically what he put on G+):

Amazing freakanomics podcast sharing the research on the influence of parents.

The current research shows that parents have very little influence (other than passing on blessed or unblessed genes) on a child's educational attainment and on how much money the child will earn. Reading to your child doesn't help, taking them to museums doesn't help, once you've donated your genes you can't do much else. It does show that a parent can have a significant influence on whether your child smokes, is a heavy drinker, treats others with kindness and how happy your child is. Children with loving nurturing parents will be happier. There also seems to be evidence that type-A parenting (engaging children in as many enriching activities as possible) can have a negative effect as it won't help with education/career and it's likely to increase the child's stress and therefore unhappiness.

in sum:

Parenting can have a profound influence on a child's happiness and helping them avoid moral pitfalls.

Parenting has almost no influence on a child's educational or career attainments ($), that's dictated almost entirely by genes.

If you want to read to you children and take them to the museum go for it but if it's not a fun nurturing experience you may be doing more harm than good.


I'll have to listen to it.