Parents, cut yourself some slack: parenting guru

12:0AM, May 16th 2011

By Amanda Pitcher

Parents have been told they need to stop trying so hard to be perfect parents, and take a more relaxed and easy-going approach.

Photo: Thinkstock

Parents need to stop trying so hard to be perfect and take a more relaxed and easy-going approach to raising their children, a US economist has said.

George Mason University academic Dr Bryan Caplan has argued "investment parenting", where parents encourage (or force) their children into music lessons, organised sport, and academic pursuits, had been found to have no long-term benefits for children as adults, the UK's Observer reported.

In his recently published book, Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why being a great parent is less work and more fun than you think, Dr Caplan wrote that parents work too hard to be good parents and should take a backseat role.

"What I'm trying to say is, if you are a person who likes the idea of kids, being a great parent is less work and more fun that you think. Right now, parents are 'overcharging' themselves for each kid," father-of-three Dr Caplan told the Observer.

"Parents can sharply improve their lives without hurting their kids. Nature, not nurture, explains most family resemblance, so parents can safely cut themselves a lot of additional slack."

Dr Caplan's "serenity parenting" style is almost the opposite to the highly publicised "tiger mother" style of parenting, advocated by author Amy Chua — who supports tough love and hard work in her recently published parenting book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.

But research involving twins and adopted children has found that parenting has zero to low long-term effects on the health and lifestyle of their grown children, Dr Caplan said.

"Quit fretting over how much TV your kids watch. Don't force them to do a million activities they hate. Accept that your children's lives are shaped mostly by their genes and their own choices, not by the sacrifices you make in hopes of turning them into successful adults," Dr Caplan said.

 



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