Parenting advice: Have more children, stress less about how they'll turn out

Published: Friday, April 22 2011 2:14 p.m. MDT

Tiger Mom has a nemesis.

While Amy Chua believes in having a rigid schedule for your children — not allowing them to watch TV, play computer games or have sleepovers, Bryan Caplan recently wrote a book that says parents don't have as much control as they think over how their children are going to turn out.

"We've needlessly turned parenting into an unpleasant chore," Caplan wrote. "Parents invest more time and money in their kids than ever, but the shocking lesson of twin and adoption research is that upbringing is much less important than genetics in the long run."

The economics professor at George Mason told NPR of studies that show that twins who are separated at birth end up living quite similar lives — meaning that the parenting style does not have quite the effect some believe.

His book, "Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent is Less Work and More Fun than You Think," instructs parents on how to be happier, what they should not stress about, and even how many kids would be right for them.

In an excerpt from his book, he says that parents may pretend like they are not having as many kids as their parents or grandparents because they can't afford them or that more families have both parents working, but he says the real reason is that parents are having less kids because they think kids are too much work.

In fact, the Deseret News recently published an article that included studies that show a majority of couples feel less life and marital satisfaction when they have children and that happiness only returns when the children are out of the house.

In a Q&A with The New York Times, Caplan answers questions about this and says the research is a little one-sided.

He says studies show that 90 percent of parents would choose to have the same amount of kids if they were given another chance and that two-thirds of adults over 40 without children say they wish they had kids.

He also says that it is the parents who are making more work out of having children than they need to be.

"Parents who don't take twin research seriously are 'overcharging' themselves for every child — not financially, but emotionally," he wrote in an article for The Wall Street Journal. "The blatant lesson of twin research is to stop overcharging yourself."

With his own children, he said he let them watch Saturday morning cartoons while he and his wife relaxed and only enrolled them in one or two activities.

When parents understand that nature has more to do with how your children will turn out than nurture, he says parents will automatically rethink how many children they want to have.

When asked about Tiger Mom's parenting style, he tells NPR: "I don't think she is hurting them in the long-run. But what I would say is that her parenting is not the reason for their success."

Email: slenz@desnews.com

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