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Child Neuropsychology A blog by Dr Jonathan Reed
  • Parenting- How important is it?

    One of my favourite columnists from The Times newspaper Daniel Finkelstein has written a thought provoking column today criticizing the latest report The Good Childhood Enquiry. This report was about how unhappy children are today because of selfish parents. In the column Daniel makes some simple points which I often think about myself when seeing children. The key issue is the extent to which parents influence children’s behaviour and personality. The points he makes are 1- children and parents share the same genes and therefore are likely to be somewhat alike to start with. 2- children who are difficult are going to influence the way their parents react to them. It is easy to be an authoritative parent with a child who is easy to manage- the traffic is not all one way. I happen to believe that parents do have an affect on their children but there are so many other issues affecting development as well. The issues about genetics that Daniel raises are penitent as well as the effect of the peer group, diet, sleep, exercise, brain injury, neurodevelopmental issues etc etc. Finally the column ends with an interesting take on the pros and cons of individualism and it’s effect on social relationships – but you will have to read that HERE yourselves.

    Published on February 4, 2009 · Filed under: behaviour, genes, parenting; Tagged as: , ,

2 Responses to “Parenting- How important is it?”

  1. Dear Dr Reed,

    I am very happy about your contribution on this subject!

    It has been my perception for a reasonable amount of time
    that media outlets are quick to blame children, parents,
    teachers, social workers and others for poor educational
    outcomes in a revolving cycle.

    However, I believe that, as you have pointed out, there are
    manifold influences on physical, cognitive and social
    development even though care takers are probably the
    group that spend the most time with growing children.

    I would disagree with Mr Finkelstein that genetics have a
    direct influence on one’s parenting style. I think such a
    claim is not warranted given our lack of data on the subject -
    and perhaps even parenting itself might not be understood
    well enough as a topic in cognition to support this discourse.
    [See, for instance, Rosoff, P. M. (2010). In Search of the mommy
    gene: Truth and consequences in behavioral genetics. Science,
    Technology & Human Values, 25(2), pp. 200-243.]

    Personally, I would also argue that excessive individualism,
    which may exist in some corners of the British society, can
    have a detrimental effect on the upbringing of the next
    generation. I would say, for instance, that it enables the
    legislation for a reduction in welfare, health, childcare and
    educational spending in place of more mundane pet projects.
    But I must admit, I have little evidence to substantiate this point.


  2. Thanks for the comment Stefan. It is a complex area.

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