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Tuesday, November 15 - 4:22pmSanction this postReply
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A review on Amazon:

4.0 out of 5 stars Clarifying some misconceptions about this book, August 3, 2011
By
Peas on Earth (Boston) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent is Less Work and More Fun Than You Think (Hardcover)
I just finished reading the book, and then read through all the negative reviews. Basically, my sense is that all of those who wrote negative reviews misunderstood what the book is about, and instead focused on single statements taken out of context.

First: This book does NOT tell you that you should just put your child in front of the television all the time, because your parenting makes no difference. It also doesn't tell you that you should feed your kids fast foods, stop monitoring them altogether, or otherwise neglect them, because it won't matter. This is NOT what the book is about. The fast food and TV instances that (defensive sounding?) people seem to cling to like a last straw are given as examples in specific cases: If both you and your child are stressed out, and you're trying to force the kid to do something they don't want to do because YOU think it's important for their future (e.g. practice violin or go to ballet class), and you're stressed and screaming at them to do it, and no one's happy, THAT'S when the book suggests to relax, take an hour for yourself, and let the TV babysit. The idea is that a relaxed, happy parent, is FAR more important to a child's long term well being than an hour of ballet. And any parent who's ever been stressed (i.e., ALL parents), know that their stress does not rub off very well on the kids.

Second: This book doesn't say that parenting doesn't matter AT ALL. It says that REASONABLE parenting, with love, affection, attention, and fun times spent together is sufficient to let your child make the most of their potential. You do not have to be a SUPER parent, just a loving attentive normal parent, to achieve the same results.

Third: This book doesn't say everyone should have more children. The guy is very much a libertarian who believes in personal choices. What the book is saying is, if you think you might have liked more kids (or kids period) but ruled it out for very specific reasons, that he then outlines, THEN, you should rethink those reasons. Those reasons, among others listed in the book, include (1) if you think parenting is all about stress (it says you can be more relaxed, and explains why), (2) if you dread the early years (they pass quickly), (3) if you think that for a kid to be the best they can be, they need ALL of your free time and constant attention (they don't). If you hate kids, it doesn't claim you should have them anyway. If you've always only wanted 2 kids for whatever reason, it doesn't say you should have 3 or 4, it's just asking you to consider why you want 2, and if your reason is one of the ones listed, to rethink it.

Forth: The science stated in the book is SOUND. Those are REAL studies with REAL results. He also quotes twin/adoption studies that show small effects of nurture, but those effects are always small/not replicated in larger studies. You can look up the publications yourselves. (www.pubmed.gov).

Fifth: Whatever variations are NOT accounted for by genetics, are probably driven by epigenetics (not mentioned), parental nurture, and social (outside the house) nurture. But those are the SMALLER part of the equation, the variations are driven MOSTLY by genetics.

Sixth and Last: This book does *not* claim, and I repeat, does *not* claim, that all you do as a parent doesn't matter. It absolutely states, gives personal anecdotes, and points out studies that confirm that what parents do DOES matter in the short run, where short run can be years, basically as long as the kids LIVE in the home, or just left it. If you teach your child to be polite, they'll be polite. If you don't, they probably won't be. What the book IS saying, is that in the LONG RUN, into their 30s and later, THAT is when your upbringing with begin to fade away. It doesn't matter how you bring up your kids, they're likely to end up with roughly the same earning power, roughly the same IQ, roughly the same level of happiness, and a couple of other measures, whether or not you insisted on taking them to ballet class when they objected, or to practice team sports even though they hated it. And THIS is why the book says (see point 1), RELAX. Have FUN with your kids, rather than stress them and yourself out over activities neither one of you is enjoying. Give them your attention when you're happy and relaxed, and if you need to let them watch TV for an hour to get some quiet time for yourself so that YOU can relax, and then spend QUALITY time with them, allow yourself to do that. You won't be hurting your kid's future income.


I am giving the book 4 only stars because I think the chapter of mock conversations is ridiculous and boring and feels like a space filler, because I think he didn't always do a great job of emphasizing some important points, and because I think he should have at least mentioned epigenetics, which likely explain most of the variations in personality between identical twins raised together (basically, conditions in the womb determine later gene expression, and twins never experience the same conditions, one is always more squeezed that the other).

Lastly, I'd like to mention that I also think his idea for how potential grandparents could maximize odds of getting grandchildren (or more grandchildren) is amusing and makes some very good points.



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Tuesday, November 15 - 5:32pmSanction this postReply
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Sounds like a great read I will pick it up!



Post 2

Tuesday, November 15 - 6:47pmSanction this postReply
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ReasonTV interviewed the author some months ago (I cheered)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HB4I1292PEE




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Wednesday, November 16 - 4:02pmSanction this postReply
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I had to giggle at this review:

This book is horrible!, June 28, 2011
By Jamar C. Osborne "josbo51713" (Norman, OK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)

This review is from: Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent is Less Work and More Fun Than You Think (Hardcover)

The problem is that this author looks at everything from the perspective of what makes the parent happy. To me, it is completely irrelevant what the parent thinks. What is relevant is whether or not the child is happy being brought into existence. He somewhat addresses this in Chapter 6, but he assumes that everyone is happy being brought into existence and that procreation is therefore a good thing. He says that no one would be upset at their parents for having them. That has a huge mistake on his part. I am very upset at my parents for bringing me into this world to suffer. There are many people who are depressed, suicidal or have actually taken the step of killing themselves. Life has it moments, but there is a great deal of suffering. This suffering is completely avoidable if people would stop having children. He needs to accept responsibility for the fact that parents are inflicting suffering on their children by bringing them into the world.

I am hugely disappointed. I went through a great deal of trouble to get this book as my library did not have it and I didn't want to buy it. Thank god that I didn't buy it. It would have been a waste of money. One thing for sure is that he got the title right. It is definitely selfish to have children. He admits it in the title, but doesn't really lay it out in the book. Selfishness is not a virtue. Selfish parents should be ashamed of themselves. If you want a good book, I recommend "Better Never To Have Been" by David Benatar. This one is garbage!


Disturbingly, the Benatar book had a nearly perfect rating from 11 reviewers!

I do agree that not every child brought into existence will be happy but that does not mean terminating all of human existence as Benatar argues!

(Edited by Luke Setzer on 11/17, 4:47am)




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Wednesday, November 16 - 6:12pmSanction this postReply
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Jeeze how nice of him to condemn humanity because he had crappy parents...



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Friday, November 18 - 7:25pmSanction this postReply
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Economics professor (Austrian school of theory) Bryan Caplan writes in several places, chief, perhaps being EconoLog of the Library of Economics and Liberty. This book is a subset and distillation of his thought on wider issues. See for instance this blurb arguing against a Slate article denouncing Twin Studies.

Irony cannot be ignored here. This topic was started by the self-identified libertarian racist Brad Trun. Trun is happy to direct his disrespect toward sub-Saharan Africans, but has not declared his happiness serving as a second-class citizen in a world dominated by East Asians and Ashkenazi Jews. A clever Aryan like Trun would be assigned to community college education and might retire as a tool crib manager in a multinational corporation before being incinerated at age 60 as suggested in both This Perfect Day by Ira Levin and Brave New World. Trun seems to be your basic Beta Minus/Gamma Plus, capable of abstract reasoning but debarred from truly higher education.

As for kids, I took the advice of Anonymous who said, "Put all your eggs in one basket - and then guard that basket!"
(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 11/18, 7:29pm)




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Friday, November 18 - 7:48pmSanction this postReply
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Put all your eggs in one basket, and then guard that basket!
- Mark Twain, The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson
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Talking about how one gets rich, Andrew Carnegie said,
The wise man puts all his eggs in one basket and watches the basket.

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"Never put all your eggs in the same basket" is such an old statement that I don't think anyone knows the author.



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Saturday, November 19 - 4:57amSanction this postReply
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Over in the General Forum, Kate Gladstone started a discussion about a Ford Hall lecture in which Ayn Rand said that children should not have to see defective people on the street.  In my second reply to that (Post #3 here) I cited the case of Charles Proteus Steinmetz.  

Regarding a different topic we had going, while looking through Bryan Caplan's Econolog posts, I saw that he had a response to Amy Chua ("Tiger Mother").  In fact, if you goto EconoLog and put "Amy Chua" in the Search box, you will find quite a bit to read. 

Thanks for the pointers, Steve. I am always happy to learn and open to correction.


(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 11/19, 5:13am)




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