Parents try all kinds of methods to turn out smart, well-adjusted kids — some crack the whip "Tiger-Mother"-style, while others let their toddlers find their own way. But, according to a new paper in Psychological Science, a parent's ability to shape early mental ability (beyond basic genetics) largely depends on how much money the family has, says Jonah Lehrer in The Wall Street Journal. In poorer households, the home environment parents created was found to account for almost 80 percent of the mental variation among 2-year-olds, while in richer homes genetics proved far more important. How does wealth relate to mental development?
Money matters, but parenting matters more: Of course "the influence of poor parents matters," says Maia Szalavitz in Time, because low-income moms and dads are the ones who can prevent financial disadvantages from holding their children back. Wealthy parents matter, just in different ways. For example, one study found that professional parents talk more in the home, and send their kids off to school with twice the vocabulary of children from poorer homes.
"Perspective on the parenting debate: Rich parents don't matter?"
Rich parents do not matter as much as they think: It's important, rich or poor, "to provide your kids with a nurturing environment, full of books, social interactions, and positive words," says Rachel Emma Silverman in The Wall Street Journal. But genes matter more than whether you send your pampered toddler "to a Montessori or a Reggio-Emilia preschool." So "don't sweat the small stuff."
"Parents: Stop obsessing!"
There is a limit to what any parent can do: "Kids can come out of the womb, in some ways, fully formed," says Mireille Silcoff in Canada's National Post. Whether you're a Chinese Tiger Mother, like the controversial Amy Chua, or a "pampering" feel-gooder out to protect your kid from hard knocks, "over parenting" can do more harm than good. Maybe kids "could become stronger, smarter, and more self-reliant" if we watched over them less.
"Spoiled vs. spoiled: The parenting debate"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The 10 best networking tips for people who hate networking
- 11 scientific studies that will restore your faith in humanity
- Why the West should let Russia have eastern Ukraine
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- Why baseball is America's most dangerous spectator sport
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- Scottish independence is another financial crisis waiting to happen
- Your literary playlist: A guide to the music of Haruki Murakami
- 9 Harvard dropouts who became fabulously successful
Subscribe to the Week