Parents, Stop Working So Hard at ... Parenting

Lighten up, you matter less than you think: Bryan Caplan
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 12, 2011 1:40 PM CDT
Author Bryan Caplan: Parents Should Lighten Up and Have More Kids
Twin babies, even if one is happier than the other.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Economics professor Bryan Caplan has advice for all those stressed-out parents in the world: Lighten up, you don't matter that much. As the father of twins, Caplan has immersed himself in twin research, which imparts this lesson: "With a few exceptions, the effect of parenting on adult outcomes ranges from small to zero," he writes in the Wall Street Journal. Studies have found that even identical twins raised apart can end up as similar as they would be had they grown up in the same home ... with the same parents. Parents obviously change kids—"the catch is that the changes fade out as kids grow up."

Caplan sees too many parents turning parenting into a joyless chore—endless activities for the kids, no-TV rules, etc. These parents are noble but misguided, he contends. "High-strung parenting isn’t dangerous, but it does make being a parent a lot more work and less fun than it has to be," writes Caplan. The flipside of his philosophy of "Serenity Parenting": People who aren't tired and stressed as parents can have more kids. (Read more parenting stories.)

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