Freakonomics and the uselessness of parenting
I just finished the book "Freakonomics", and it's a good book. It's very interesting, and says some really fascinating things. Among the more controversial stands in the book are the ideas that abortion has caused the crime rate to drop, and that what parents actually DO matters less than who they ARE when the baby is born. If you want to know more about the abortion thing, read the book. I'm not going to get into it here (yeah, like I really want a flame war on a Mommy blog about abortion. That's T&S's department!). But I would like to discuss this idea that what you do as a parent matters less than who you are before your baby was born. Now, this assumptions are all based on test scores, of course, which we all know don't amount to everything George Bush had hoped they would. But still, standardized tests do give us some irrefutable numbers and patterns which then can be matched to coorelating factors. And they have found that kids who perform well have some unifying aspects of their background, which include race, socioeconomic status, family background (2 parent family vs. single parent), etc. That's not all that surprising, right--rich kids tend to succeed in school more often than poor ones. But the numbers do say that there is no correlation between success and having a stay at home mom until the child went to kindergarten. What IS shown is that kids with mothers who had them at age 30 or older, who have mothers with a known high IQ, or who have a mother with an education, are the ones who are succeeding, at least at the standardized tests. Frankly, reading that DID surprise me, and I'm wondering what to do with this information. Take it for what it's worth, get a full time job and pack my kid up to day care because what I'm doing all day doesn't really matter? I'm highly educated, I have a fairly high IQ, I'm 30, and I'm white, so apparantly, my kid has it made. He has all the tools since birth to succeed, and I don't need to give him any more. Somehow I can't really believe this. I've read too many other things that say the exact opposite, that a mother has the most profound impact on her offspring, and staying at home is the best thing a mother can do. But I guess we've all known some SAHM whose children probably would be better off in day care. Anyhow, I am a little bit disturbed about the findings of these guys, and I don't think they are doing it to be politically correct. I mean, c'mon, saying that the kind of people who are having abortions are the kind of people who would raise criminals is seriously politically INcorrect, so I'm not sure what kind of political agenda this book has. But since this is already the longest post ever, I'm going to end it soon and throw out my confusion and dismay to the bloggernacle at large to find out what everybdoy else thinks. How important is a mother, I mean besides providing good genetic make-up? Am I overestimating my effect on my son? Would he succeed or fail, regardless of what I do, just because of who I am and what kind of genes I passed on to him? To be honest, sometimes it might be nice to think nothing that I do matters--it would erase a whole multitude of Mommy sins I commit every day!