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Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

Brave New Parenting: Using Genetics to Determine Which Sport Our Child Should Play



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It used to be that the parental ideal was to expose one's children to many and varied activities so that they could discover for themselves the avocations and activities that most suited them. But apparently that's too messy and time consuming for some. A company is now offering to test children's genes to determine which sport they will be best at so that parents can cut through the dross and put them directly in that activity. From the story:
When Donna Campiglia learned recently that a genetic test might be able to determine which sports suit the talents of her 2 ½-year-old son, Noah, she instantly said, Where can I get it and how much does it cost?

"I could see how some people might think the test would pigeonhole your child into doing fewer sports or being exposed to fewer things, but I still think it's good to match them with the right activity," Campiglia, 36, said as she watched a toddler class at Boulder Indoor Soccer in which Noah struggled to take direction from the coach between juice and potty breaks. "I think it would prevent a lot of parental frustration," she said.
Yes, well we wouldn't want you to be frustrated. But maybe you should love your kid enough to give him the room to take some wrong turns, have some rough patches, and fall on his butt a few times until he finds his own way. After all, that's part of what childhood is for. Sure it hurts, but the tough times strengthen us and help us not only become individuals. but mature adults.

Besides, genetics isn't destiny. What a child might seem predisposed genetically to be best at--these things will always be uncertain--are not what he or she will necessarily like or want to do. But we are becoming such control freaks we want everything wrapped in a neat package. But that leads away from freedom.

Such thinking is the start of what Huxley warned against in Brave New World. If we keep going in this direction, it isn't going to make us stronger, it is going to make us weaker.


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