What really matters

Posted: October 9, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

So the other day at work while getting coffee in the break room, I ran into a co-worker, the co-worker stopped me to bend my ear. He mentioned how our youth were growing up without positive role models in their parents and that this was effecting the local community. I mentioned to him that this was incorrect. I pointed out a recent Freakonomics radio show titled “The Economists guide to parenting” . The radio show, like every other one from the Freakonomics team was entertaining, educational and enlightening.  It seems according to numbers that parents have little effect on the outcome of their child’s socioeconomic status when they become an adult. Going further it seems the among all the lessons we give to our children, what they pick up most from their parents would be smoking, drinking and how we interact with other people (other people than them ie a waitress car mechanic…).

“You see that children are picking up their parents’ smoking and drinking habits with a very high degree of correlation, and it’s the same with the adoptees and the non-adoptees, they really pick up their parents’ habits, those type of habits explicitly. Another thing that’s undoubtedly contagious is that behavior of how you interact, how you treat other people, how you treat employees at a restaurant, or a retail store or something. I think those things are probably highly contagious as well.”  excerpt from the  Freakonomics story quote from Bruce Sacerdote, whose research on adoption is featured prominently in the show.

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Now my mention of this article story and philosophy on parenting, which is, relax enjoy parenthood provide for your child and relax, he or she will more than likely turn out fine, was not taken lightly. The co-worker mentioned studies about men in prison who cited a lack of a relationship with their father as the core reason for their incarceration. I let him know that these studies were faulty because I am assuming that among the participants they failed to account for all the men outside of prison who did not have relationships with their fathers. despite pointing out this fact the co-worker still felt that the parents position was paramount to a child’s development. I was interested into why he would hold onto this notion despite it’s obvious fallacies.

I then had the same discussion at lunch with another co-worker who felt that a parents role was important in raising a child, I simply stated the facts and he failed to see as well. Then I asked him how he could account for all the success stories from people raised in “broken” homes. He did not have an answer but he was sure that he was right. For him parents matter. I was going to “let it go” but I also raised the “black sheep” paradox. The name was thought up by my girl friend (“black sheep Paradox” cool name huh?) . The “Black Sheep Paradox” is a parenting question, if parenting matters as much as many believe it does why is there a “black sheep”? Why, in families of more than one child are there children who are wildly successful and others who are not?   The same parenting techniques were applied to both people. There are twins who are often categorized as “night and day”. If parenting techniques affect the outcome of our children transition to adulthood as much as we are conditioned by society to believe than there really should be no “black sheep”. Now once again despite contradictory evidence to this co-workers believe he held fast to his ideals of the importance of parents.

That afternoon I spoke with my girlfriend and let her know how shocked I was. She informed me again (as she often has too) that people do not think the same as I do. She let me know that instead of learning and understanding and applying what has been learned many people find an ideal or belief system and never alter their thoughts despite reality.  This has always been dis-heartening for me.  The narrow minded dogmatic approach to life that seems to be more main stream now (maybe it is not, maybe I simply live somewhere where it is more prevalent). I know that education and the application of education is freeing, as in this case. The idea that our kids will be “ok”, in spite of our misguided parenting, broken relationships, and lack of private school education, as long as we don’t smoke or talk poorly to the waitress, makes me feel more free to enjoy watching my kids grow up.

I truly feel that if my co-workers were to open up and learn that they would enjoy life theirs and their children’d far more than ever before…




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