Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Do Parents Matter?

Excerpted from the book Freakonomics

What Makes A Parent Perfect?

Has there ever been another art so devoutly converted into a science as the art of parenting?

Over the recent decades, a vast and diverse flock of parenting experts has arisen. Anyone who tries even casually to follow their advice may be stymied , for the conventional wisdom on parenting seems to shift by the hour. sometimes it is a case of one expert differing from another. At other times the mostvocal experts suddenly agree en masse that the old wisdom was wrong and that new wisdom is, for alittle while atleast, irrefutably right.

Breast feeding is for example the only way to garantee a healthy baby-unless bottle feeding is the answer. A babyshould sleep on its back-until it is decreed that sheshould only be put to sleep on her stomach.

This chapter in Freakonomics continues by exploring some myths of parenting, some books revealing misconceptions and urban myths, and then to describe regression analysis. Using regression analysis the authors study the results of late 1990's school test scores to see if there is any corelation to contemproary beliefs about what makes a good parent, or not.

Wanna play? 8 of the following 16 factors does corelate to how a child does on school tests.

1) The child has highly educated parents.

2) The child's family is intact.

3) Thechild's parents have high socioeconomic status.

4) The child's parents recently moved into a better neighbourhood.

5) The child's mother was thirty or older at the time of her first child's birth.

6) The child's mother didn't work between birth and kindergarten.

7) The child had low birthweight.

8) Thechild attended Head Start.

9) The child's parents speak English at home.

10) The child's parents regularily take him to museums.

11) The child is adopted.

12) The child is regularily spanked.

13) The child's parents are in the PTA.

14) The child frequently watches television.

15) The child has many books in his home.

16) The child's parents read to him nearly everyday.


pjazzypar said...

I choose numbers 5,6,8,10,12,13,15,16. I am very interested to know what the answers are. www.tracesofastream.blogspot.com

Jenny McB said...

I am here by way of Malcolm's site. This is a tough one, like you said above, diverse opinions. So here is my stab at this-
2, 3, 5, 6, 9, 11, 14, 15,

Will check back to see how I did.

Mitch said...

Very interesting post! Difficult one. My pick would be 2,5,6,7,9,14,15,16. Parents do matter in childhood a lot. Mine did well. They have their 50th anniversary coming up. I want it to be great! My sisters wanna turn a photo into a painting. My eldest sis thinks it’s romantic – she got proposed by her boyfriend (now her fiance) with a ring and a great painting by these guys. Do you think at the age my folks are in they will find it romantic? Comments anyone? Thanks, Mitch

Candy Minx said...

Hi Pjazzypar, I will let you all know what the "answers" are very soon. They are more like variables associated with good school test results rather than answers.

Jenny Mc, this is a tough one because many of us believe that being a "good" parent makes a difference how a child learns. Check back later!

Mitch I totally think your parents will find a ring and a painting very very romantic. a coupe, doesn't ususually stay together that long unless they have a lot of chemistry. I would love to hear how the plans and party evolve! I'm a big romantic fool.

Thee Mike Brown said...

but they're answers to your quiz the way you set it up. my brilliance comes from teevee watching i scored super high on tests but could not pass classes. i regularly spanked myself but i do not believe that that was a factor. i like how in that book they point out that swimming pools are like a hundred times more likely to kill children than having a gun in the house and that abortion prevents streetcrime. and the black people names chapter was a tickler.

tweetey30 said...

OH brother. They think these are right?? Really. Then compared to these I am a piss poor parent. I mean I think I am a good parent but if you compared parents to this yikes.. Some of us just wouldnt pass the test.

Candy Minx said...

Mike Brown...yes, it is an amazing book I've noticed that the Freakonomics guys have been hired to the NYT's blog! I usually check into their old blog once a week...they look like theyhave some fancy new cribs now.

Tweety...no only 8 of the above factors are corelated to high test scores in school. The list of factors and what "helps" chiclren is actually counter-intuitive. Which means...it goes against the obvious stereotypes or waywe are taught to think about values or learning.

Malcolm: said...

My choices are: 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 14, 15, and 16. I am really looking forward to seeing the results.

Darla said...

Oh, I'm looking forward to reading this book--it's been in my TBR pile for a while now. Maybe I should dig it out.

There's so much "advice" out there for parents, and so much of it is dependent on someone's agenda.

Of course, scores on school tests aren't the only measure of parenting success, though they're one of the few quantifiable ones.

Candy Minx said...

Right Darla...tests are the only measurement of how a child is ddoing...but it is something we can use...and I would say for the most part almost everyone has a huge respect for education and the school system. Ithe school system is one of the definitive traits about the dominant culture.

Mitch said...


Thanks! Actually we are planning a trip for them to Hawaii - they got married there. And yes they have a lot of chemistry and 'biology' still alive in them.

Thanks, Mitch