Do Parents Matter

Interesting review in the WSJ today of a new book: Do Parents Matter?

The LeVines are not arguing for abandoning Western parenting mores but making an eloquent case that wisdom requires a little humility about what is “right.” American children speak more and earlier than children in some other societies, but “we don’t know whether American preschool children actually have better conversational abilities than, say, French children or just lack the social skill to restrain their speech in adult contexts, as French children do.” All the talking we do with our babies may stretch their brains, but it also creates children who believe everything they say is worth listening to at all times. In any case, “once American parents free themselves from the expert warnings that any deviations from current American practices will constitute trauma, abuse, or adversity for their children’s development”—warnings that the LeVines show in this book are largely groundless—“then it will be possible to learn from other cultures and reduce parental burdens to a more sensible level.” Parenting is hard enough as it is. There’s no reason to lose sleep over things that aren’t worth worrying about.

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