Dec 11 2012
My son loves garbage trucks. Every morning, without fail, he keeps his eyes peeled. When he finds one, he says, “Mommy, Ga-bage Tuck! Watch it?“
Having raised three girls before him (and another girl after), this vehicular fetish is a bit new to me. The novelty of his request is a big part of why I am so willing to indulge my waste-dump-loving little man whenever possible. Plus, I never tire of seeing his wide, saucer eyes light up as the stinky garbage cans get dumped into the truck and crushed by…whatever that crushing thing is. Read the rest of this entry →
Aug 4 2011
I recently got a mass email from a parenting website telling me seven ways I can raise a smart child. As a second-time parent, over-scheduled, under-slept parent, I usually delete those emails, but I did open this one.
You see, I just finished reading Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent is Less Work and More Fun Than You Think by Bryan Caplan. Caplan got a fair amount of press on NPR when the book came out in April, a few months after the Tiger-Mama debate. He believes that parents worry too much about raising smart or funny or hard-working kids, and that in the end, it’s all in the genes anyway. Basically, Caplan says, you might have some influence on your child’s functioning in the short term, or how your kids feel about you, but that’s about it. If you really want to raise a child with specific skills or interests or values, you’d better start by choosing a partner who also has those traits, and hope that the right genes get passed along.
Caplan bases his ideas on a number of twin and adoption studies, which are common ways to measure the effects of nature versus nurture. If, for example, being a good citizen was entirely the result of being raised in a law-abiding, volunteering family, then adopted children would be about as civic-minded as their adopted parents. But what Caplan found from these studies is just the opposite—that the adopted children were no more likely to follow in their adopted family’s footsteps than a randomly chosen person. Basically, he says, your kid is going to grow up to be whoever he or she will be, and the most powerful force is genetics. Read the rest of this entry →