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The Family Firm: A Data-Driven Guide to Better Decision Making in the Early School Years (The ParentData Series)

af Emily Oster

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
835329,341 (3.63)1
Business. Family & Relationships. Reference. Nonfiction. HTML:The instant New York Times bestseller!
Emily Oster dives into the data on parenting issues, cuts through the clutter, and gives families the bottom line to help them make better decisions. Good Morning America
/> A targeted mini-MBA program designed to help moms and dads establish best practices for day-to-day operations." -The Washington Post
From the bestselling author of Expecting Better and Cribsheet, the next step in data driven parenting from economist Emily Oster.
In The Family Firm, Brown professor of economics and mom of two Emily Oster offers a classic business school framework for data-driven parents to think more deliberately about the key issues of the elementary years: school, health, extracurricular activities, and more.
Unlike the hourly challenges of infant parenting, the big questions in this age come up less frequently. But we live with the consequences of our decisions for much longer. What's the right kind of school and at what age should a particular kid start? How do you encourage a healthy diet? Should kids play a sport and how seriously? How do you think smartly about encouraging children's independence? Along with these bigger questions, Oster investigates how to navigate the complexity of day-to-day family logistics.
Making these decisions is less about finding the specific answer and more about taking the right approach. Parents of this age are often still working in baby mode, which is to say, under stress and on the fly. That is a classic management problem, and Oster takes a page from her time as a business school professor at the University of Chicago to show us that thoughtful business process can help smooth out tough family decisions.
The Family Firm is a smart and winning guide to how to think clearlyand with less ambient stressabout the key decisions of the elementary school years.
Parenting is a full-time job. It's time we start treating it like one.
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Viser 5 af 5
Oster's latest book on using data for parenting. And while there is less data for the elementary years, she presents a decision framework for making decisions based on your family values and the information you do know. Very informative. ( )
  MandyPS | May 13, 2023 |
Lots of research in this book. In the end it is more about the process of decision making rather than overall recommendations. I can't see this book being very much help for the parent who needs it. They are not the likely ones to read through all the research ( )
  drmom62 | Apr 21, 2023 |
Lots of research in this book. In the end it is more about the process of decision making rather than overall recommendations. I can't see this book being very much help for the parent who needs it. They are not the likely ones to read through all the research ( )
  drmom62 | Apr 21, 2023 |
In this book, Emily Oster is back with a discussion of how to combine data with modern parenting, this time focused on school aged children. However, she starts with the acknowledgement that these years have even less clear answers than the pregnancy and infancy. Thus, instead of looking to data as having the answers, we should look at data as one input into a broader decision making framework.

This framework should start with outline the big picture for your family: what are the values and goals that impact your family life? What does this imply about the structure of your home an your life? What are the practical constraints that also need to be taken into account? This isn't just a statement of values. The big picture should be detailed enough to help drive day-to-day decisions, including a growing repository of decisions that have been generalized into concrete principles. These principles should be clear enough that one caretaker can make the decision on their own and have confidence another caretaker will not second guess them.

Oster stresses the importance of trusting your children's other caretakers: for the day-to-day decisions, whoever a decision is delegated to should have full responsibility for making and executing the decision (this includes the children for decisions that have been delegated to them). If you find that another caretaker is making a decision you really disagree with, don't nag. Instead, have a discussion of the big picture for the family and come to agreement on how this fits into the big picture.

Some decisions will be larger. For these, Oster describes a decision making process that helps families.


  • Frame the question: This is often harder than it looks. You have to go from a vague idea to a concrete question that can have a concrete answer.

  • Fact find: The data can't answer the question but it is certainly a critical input. Collect data, evidence, and details about the choice itself but also logistics, risks, and benefits. (E.g., school A may be unequivocally better than school B, but it matters whether it adds 0 or 60 minutes to daily logistics).

  • Final decision: Instead of revisiting the question repeatedly with partial information, collect the data and then set aside some time to make a decision. Whether or not that decision meeting includes the child depends on their age and the decision.

  • Follow-up: Whatever the decision, revisit them after awhile and make sure you still agree with your choice. If it was the wrong choice, it's better to find that out earlier rather than later. Use this whichever way the decision went. E.g., checking whether or not you regret not starting soccer is just as important as checking whether or not you regret starting it.



Which of these two categories a choice is in can shift over time. E.g., maybe the first time it comes up, slumber parties on school nights require a family discussion. After that first time, there may be a clear "no" or "yes, if" that turns this into a day-to-day decision.

Don't forget to use tools to track the operations of your "family firm". Calendars, documents, TODO lists, and more can be valuable tools for helping implement decisions, both day-to-day and larger. A modern family, especially one with multiple children and working parents, has a lot of logistics. It will be much easier to live inline with your goals and to trust the other caretakers in your children's lives if you can delegate some of that load to tools.

The book goes into detail about creating a family big picture. Then the bulk of the text is spent going through data and case studies that are useful for applying the Four F's decision making process. This includes common decisions such as choice of school, sleep, working parents, nutrition, parenting style, extracurriculars, emotional well being, screens, and the right age for a phone.

Although it is a bit repetitive at times, overall the practical framework combined with the databased overviews makes this book is a good read for parents of school age children. ( )
  eri_kars | Jul 10, 2022 |
This is the 3d of her data driven books looking at parenting advice. Speaking as a mother-baby nurse, I find her advice practical and real. We have all 3 books now.
  IncarnationSR | Mar 31, 2022 |
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Business. Family & Relationships. Reference. Nonfiction. HTML:The instant New York Times bestseller!
Emily Oster dives into the data on parenting issues, cuts through the clutter, and gives families the bottom line to help them make better decisions. Good Morning America
A targeted mini-MBA program designed to help moms and dads establish best practices for day-to-day operations." -The Washington Post
From the bestselling author of Expecting Better and Cribsheet, the next step in data driven parenting from economist Emily Oster.
In The Family Firm, Brown professor of economics and mom of two Emily Oster offers a classic business school framework for data-driven parents to think more deliberately about the key issues of the elementary years: school, health, extracurricular activities, and more.
Unlike the hourly challenges of infant parenting, the big questions in this age come up less frequently. But we live with the consequences of our decisions for much longer. What's the right kind of school and at what age should a particular kid start? How do you encourage a healthy diet? Should kids play a sport and how seriously? How do you think smartly about encouraging children's independence? Along with these bigger questions, Oster investigates how to navigate the complexity of day-to-day family logistics.
Making these decisions is less about finding the specific answer and more about taking the right approach. Parents of this age are often still working in baby mode, which is to say, under stress and on the fly. That is a classic management problem, and Oster takes a page from her time as a business school professor at the University of Chicago to show us that thoughtful business process can help smooth out tough family decisions.
The Family Firm is a smart and winning guide to how to think clearlyand with less ambient stressabout the key decisions of the elementary school years.
Parenting is a full-time job. It's time we start treating it like one.
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