Parenting Line of the Day

From a review of Edward Kennedy's posthumous memoir:

Kennedy tells us that when he was still a child his father once let him know that he had a choice between living "a serious life" and a "non-serious life."

"I'll still love you whichever choice you make,” his father, the bootlegger, wrote. "But if you decide to have a non-serious life, I won’t have much time for you."

Imagine as a child hearing that from your father! I think the better emphasis is personal happiness and fulfillment. But does the parent's emphasis even matter?

Not as much as most people think. Bryan Caplan, in his now gated article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, writes:

The punch line is that, at least within the normal range of parenting styles, how you raise your children has little effect on how your children turn out. You can be strict or permissive, involved or distant, encouraging or critical, religious or secular. In the long run, your kids will resemble you in many ways; but they would have resembled you about as much if they had never met you.

There is plenty of other work on this topic; twin studies are some of the most interesting. I am not optimistic that it will become mainstream thinking in the near term. The parenting industry — and it is an industry, all those books and tapes and classes on how to groom the next Einstein — is large and profit hungry.


Here are all my links on parenting. Here's why I love my parents. Here is the key to life in one simple flowchart.

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