“Raising Hurricanes: The Surprising Forces that Influence a Child's Future”
A baby is born. What role do the parents play in who the baby becomes? Developmental science suggests a surprising conclusion: Trying to predict how a child will turn out based on choices made by the parents is like trying to predict a hurricane from the flap of a butterfly’s wings. People's deep beliefs about parenting are unlikely to be correct, given how wildly parenting practices and beliefs have varied across times and places, and given powerful misconceptions about how much we know. Consider this astounding fact: In many ways, siblings raised together -- in the same home, by the same parents -- are no more alike one another than siblings who are separated and grow up in completely different homes. Such findings have led to claims that children are shaped by their genes and their peers -- not by their parents. But genes and peers can be overrated, and parents have gotten short shrift. Parents may shape their children, but in highly complex ways, amidst the chaos of forces at work in children's lives and within children. Developmental science holds the promise of making sense of this complexity, and suggests refreshing take-home messages for parents.
Faculty Host: Jon Cohen