Why Parents Matter: Parental Investment and Child Outcomes

Why Parents Matter: Parental Investment and Child Outcomes

Why Parents Matter: Parental Investment and Child Outcomes

Why Parents Matter: Parental Investment and Child Outcomes

Synopsis

There is a feeling of helplessness in the hearts of many parents. The social problems that they formerly only read about in newspapers are becoming manifest in their child's school, in their neighborhoods, and in their own homes. This is the most appropriate time for a book that affirms the importance of good parenting in preventing delinquency, drug abuse, and teen pregnancy and promoting happiness and a desire for achievement. Why Parents Matter challenges parents and parental figures to take responsibility for their children.

Excerpt

There has been a recent academic controversy over whether parental child-rearing has any real effect on how offspring turn out. Ordinary people seem far ahead of the brightest minds in psychological research in their intuitive knowledge that parental attention and solicitude matter a great deal for the happiness and social success of children. They know that if parents, rich or poor, spend little time with their offspring they can reasonably expect resentment and disturbing behavioral problems.

This controversy was begun by behavior geneticists who found that personality differences are strongly influenced by genes. Moreover, they concluded that, regardless of shared genes, siblings raised in the same home are no more similar in personality than any two individuals chosen at random from the population. These results have caused many academics to jump to the conclusion that parents have little role to play in how their children turn out. Yet, a closer look at the actual research findings makes it clear that this conclusion should not be drawn.

Personality traits like extroversion and anxiety are determined by brain biology, and they would have to be influenced by genes. We cannot expect parents to alter substantially such basic biological traits of their children, and the behavior geneticists are telling us that in fact they do not. What parental influence can do is to intervene between biologically based behavioral tendencies and what the child actually does. For example, Jerome Kagan . . .

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