The Corner

re: indeed

I think these tragedies — as I said, I’ve known a few — MAKE my former case, i.e. that parental influence is less than we all think, or wish. Do you imagine that ANY of the parents involved in those tragedies wanted their daughters to get involved with Stoner G. Ponytail? There is an entire sub-genre of modern fiction dealing with trying-their-best middle-class parents whose daughters go off the rails. This one , for example, and this one . It happens a lot. You going to blame the parents in all these cases? That’s nuts. I know some of these people. They didn’t do anything wrong. Do you think they should be consumed with guilt? That’s where the logic of your position leads you. I don’t agree.

Parenting makes a difference. I said that at the time of our original exchanges, and made it clear that I’m working hard at it myself. (I just got back from having my son fitted up for his first football kit http://www.huntingtonbulldogs.org/default.asp .) Parental DECISIONS–about where to live, for example–also make a difference. I said that, too.

My argument was that PARENTING DOESN’T MAKE ANYTHING LIKE AS MUCH DIFFERENCE AS WE’VE ALL BEEN TOLD. Your life outcomes are determined 45-50 percent by genetics, 45-50 percent by outside-the-home socialization (which is affected by parental decisions about housing, schooling, etc.), 0-10 percent by in-home socialization (=parenting). That’s what the evidence tells us, as I read it. Parenting has been WAY over-sold. And Freudianism (in-home socialization determines 100 percent of life outcome) is dog poop.

As a parent, you should do what you can. And nuclear-family parenting is, in my opinion, the only child-raising style compatible with our traditional freedoms. No argument on those. But: PARENTING HAS BEEN WAY OVER-SOLD by the Freudian cranks and the merchants of parental guilt.

So where am I wrong?

John Derbyshire — Mr. Derbyshire is a former contributing editor of National Review.

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