Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Not entirely sure how I feel about this article...

Stumbled across this post on the Freakonomics blog today, and I heartily recommend reading it (it was good enough that I, cheapskate that I am, went ahead and pre-ordered the author's book).

However, I feel pretty conflicted about the whole thing. Here is the main crux.
Health, intelligence, happiness, success, character, values, appreciation – they all run in families.  But with a few exceptions, adoption and twin researchers find that nature overpowers nurture, especially in the long-run.  Kids aren’t like clay that parents mold for life; they’re more like flexible plastic that responds to pressure, but returns to its original shape when the pressure is released.

This is great news, right? It means that by and large I should be able to raise my kids to be happy and not have to make them miserable doing it. The downside? All the work and money and effort I've already put into doing just that (and will no doubt continue to do) are basically a waste because they are all basically going to end up how they are going to end up regardless of what I do. As an added bonus, my genetic attributes (I'm overweight, asthmatic, have started growing back hair, and I'm allergic to everything) will be sure to stick with them.

So what do I do? If there's anything I've learned from AA (or at least from the pop culture refereces I rely on for this sort of information since I don't belong to AA) it's that I should hope for "the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference." In these terms, and in the context of that blog (and hopefully the forthcoming book) what I really need to do is try to relax a little bit (which is not easy for me), spend more time enjoying my kids, and less time trying to turn them into responsible adults.

All of this will also be a mixed bag for my wife. She will be glad that this author may have gotten through to me and made me more relaxed and able to enjoy my children, but she'll also most likely be frustrated that I listened to him in a blog and not her when she's been telling me the same thing for months.

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