Nature vs. Nurture and Chillaxing

I stumbled across this blog post by Bryan Caplan (via Arts & Letters Daily), an economics professor and father of twins (plus another) and author of Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent Is Less Work and More Fun Than You Think.

In his provocatively titled blog post, Caplan reviews twin and adoption research that pretty much boils down to this: “…Twin research has another far more amazing lesson: With a few exceptions, the effect of parenting on adult outcomes ranges from small to zero.” (Emphasis his.)

He then goes on to observe how many parents overestimate the power of “nurture” and make parenting a drag. I felt like he was

Book Cover: Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids

Bryan Caplan's book, which argues I should chillax

talking to me! I love this quote: “The obvious lesson to draw is that parents should lighten up.  I call it “Serenity Parenting”: Parents need the serenity to accept the things they cannot change, the courage to change the things they can, and (thank you twin research) the wisdom to know the difference.”

I also identify strongly with this his observation, “When you ask high-effort parents if they want another child, the thought often frightens them. They’re already tired and stressed from the kids they’ve got; how could they endure the sacrifices required to raise one more?”

When I was pregnant, I said (several times), “I don’t think I want to do this again.” I didn’t have any problems, it was just a drag. When I was in labor, I basically yelled, “I can’t ever do this again!” (Which, by the way, is probably just what happens when someone who WANTS an epidural doesn’t get one until she’s 9+ cm dilated. Just sayin’.) When Boopsie was tiny, I told myself I might never have a little baby again as a way to try and enjoy, rather than dread the multiple night time feedings, or having to hold her for hours on end. Frankly, it was liberating to let myself off the hook of having another baby. I don’t think I’d use the words “endure the sacrifices,” but when I think of having another kid, I definitely worry about being a good parent, wife, human being, worker, etc., It feels exponential and not additive.

Don’t misinterpret what I’m saying here: Daddy-o and I are having a lot of fun with Boopsie. We love being a family and introducing her to things we like, and she brings a TON of joy to our lives. I love this little girl beyond what is rational at times, and wouldn’t trade parenthood for any other experience available to me. But the thought of having two kids still feels overwhelming.

I’m still not convinced about having another kid (nor do I need to be… Boopsie turns 8 months tomorrow), but I’d like to read Caplan’s book because his post at least helped assuage some of my concern about it. Or, maybe I’ll just be able to chillax more… aka not need to consult four people before offering Boopsie prune juice for constipation. (“But she’s never HAD juice! What if she stops liking green vegetables?”) Yep, I think I’ll read that book.


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Filed under books, lessons

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