Aug 5 2011
All the Jewish parenting news you probably didn’t have time to read this week
– This photo essay of children’s rooms in the New York Times is really astounding. From a dump in Cambodia to a gated Orthodox community in the West Bank to the top floor of a 5th Avenue apartment building, it gives you a lot to think about. (NYT)
– Welcome to the tribe, Bachelorette! Apparently Ashley Hebert, who chose JP Rosenbaum, a construction manager from Long Island, as her mate for life on reality TV, is going to convert to Judaism for him. We’re all waiting for the 2-hour “Rabbi Tells All” special. (6nobacon)
– We mentioned this last week, but hearing the full story about the women who went into labor while taking the bar exam, “breathed through the questions,” finished the test and gave birth two hours later is truly amazing. (And we’re pretty sure she’s Jewish, too, so there’s that.) (Chicago tribune)
– We’ve spoken up about genetic testing for Jewish genetic disease, but this story brings to light another important issue–testing for certain cancers that may be more common among Ashkenazi women. Jill Steinberg took the test that saved her life. (Forward)
May 23 2011
If you’re on this website, chances are good you’ve heard of testing for Jewish genetic diseases. But how about genetic testing…for sports proclivity?
According to the Washington Post, two companies have recently begun selling test kits that for less than $200 will help parents determine to which sports their children are genetically suited. And no, I’m not kidding. The idea is that the DNA scan will evaluate the kid’s potential at different sports, and also lend itself toward helping tailor workouts and physical activity – as well as provide an early-detection system for predispositions to certain problems and illnesses.
OK, the latter sounds not so bad, especially if it helps the kid embark early on a course of action to avoid them. But the piece points out that critics say such tests are “questionable,” both in the fact that the results may be “needlessly alarming or falsely reassuring,” and the fact that no one really can tell the influence of genes on athletic prowess.
I do believe that genetics play a certain role in sports, but am not sure I can subscribe to the idea of testing as providing an end-all, be-all synopsis of your fate. But isn’t that true of any evaluative test – don’t rely on it excessively, but it does have the capacity point you in the proper direction? So basically, I think these tests aren’t so awful – so long as you don’t take them particularly seriously. Which may mean not taking them in the first place.
Of course, I don’t need a genetic screen to tell me that my kids aren’t destined to be the next LeBron. Based on factors like my own shrimp-esque height and lack of any athletic ability, I feel that’s a pretty solid predictor. But as I watch my little 6-year-old shoot ball after ball in the general direction of the basketball hoop in our driveway, I sure as hell am not going to be the one to tell him that.