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The Nurture Assumption: Why Children Turn…
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The Nurture Assumption: Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do, Revised and… (original 1998; udgave 2009)

af Judith Rich Harris

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
4791137,880 (4.14)10
"How much credit do parents deserve when their children turn out well? How much blame when they turn out badly? This book explodes some of our deepest beliefs about children and parents and gives us something radically new to put in their place. With eloquence and wit, Judith Harris explains why parents have little power to determine the sort of people their children become. It is what children experience outside the home, in the company of their peers, that matters most. Parents don't socialize children: children socialize children." "Harris looks with a fresh eye at the real lives of real children and shows that the nurture assumption is nothing more than a cultural myth. Why do the children of immigrant parents end up speaking in the language and accent of their peers, not of their parents? Why are twins reared together no more alike than twins raised apart? Why does a boy who spends his first eight years with a nanny and his next ten years in boarding school nevertheless turn out just like his father? The nurture assumption cannot provide an answer to these questions. Judith Harris can." "Through no fault of their own, good parents sometimes have bad kids. Harris offers parents wise counsel on what they can and cannot do, and relief from guilt for those whose best efforts have somehow failed to produce a happy, well-behaved, self-confident child."--Jacket.… (mere)
Medlem:wrbucla
Titel:The Nurture Assumption: Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do, Revised and Updated
Forfattere:Judith Rich Harris
Info:Free Press (2009), Edition: Rev Upd, Paperback, 480 pages
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek
Vurdering:
Nøgleord:Ingen

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The Nurture Assumption: Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do af Judith Rich Harris (1998)

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Judith Rich Harris lays out her argument for group socialization theory in this comprehensive study. Her wit and self-effacing attitude kept me engaged with the book and she takes great care to explain the missteps of other researchers who, despite having mounds of data, have confused correlation with causation. The Nurture Assumption tackles a widely held belief of parent's influence on their children and as such requires a systematic analysis of all the studies available. It's a rare book that can be such an enjoyable and informative read. ( )
  b.masonjudy | Apr 3, 2020 |
I was moved to pick up this book because Steven Pinker mentioned it with fulsome praise in The Blank Slate. Author Judith Rich Harris describes herself as “an unemployed writer of college textbooks” who was “kicked out of Harvard without a PhD.” Thus, for someone with marginal academic credentials her theory of child development is audacious: that part of children’s personality that is not explained by heredity (and the idea that heredity has anything to do with personality is also still heretical) is formed by the child’s peer group(s), not parents. She calls this “group socialization theory”.


I have to say I find this idea appealing. I’m not a parent, but I am an offspring; my memories of my childhood and adolescent years certainly seem to confirm that my behavior was much more intended to establish status in my group rather than please my parents. Just because I do find it appealing, I have to be a little careful about giving it a glowing endorsement.


Harris’ writing style is pleasantly readable, certainly not the kind of prose you usually get from psychologists. That, again, might be a little handicap to her acceptance by academics; although The Nurture Assumption is heavily referenced, Harris doesn’t use footnotes; instead the references are linked to page numbers. While this certainly makes the book easy to follow, it also makes it hard to look up the sources for Harris’ statements.


I also find the book could have used tighter editing. Harris’ argument is simple enough:


* Conventional wisdom holds that the dominant influence on child development is parental upbringing.


* However, studies that purport to confirm this are flawed; they fail to correct for heredity; or they fail to establish the direction of causality (are children well-behaved because they receive a lot of hugs, or do children receive a lot of hugs because they are well-behaved); or they fail to appreciate that behavior outside the home can be different from inside the home; or they’re just plain badly done.


* Therefore, “group socialization theory” is a viable alternative, and


* Various adequately controlled studies support “group socialization theory”


The problem is Harris doesn’t lay out her arguments that way; instead she wanders all over. The Nurture Assumption is sort of an anecdotal meta-analysis, with Harris plucking various studies out of the air that support her position and criticizing (with considerably more restraint than many of her critics) those that don’t.


There are, admittedly, a lot of interesting anecdotes to tell: the boy who was dumped for five years on a Tibetan monastery by his parents and who thus grew up “a white Tibetan”; various comments on language development (including the claim that bilingual education will not work); various comments on the way children are raised in different cultures (Mayans are horrified that Americans don’t take their babies to bed with them; there is no “adolescence” among the Yanomamö: you go from being a child to an adult at 14), and considerable personal detail on Harris’ own children.


Harris’ also provides a lot to offend both the left and the right. The left will be annoyed by her contention that there really is a difference between boys and girls personality and socialization, and that heredity has a major influence on personality; the right will be upset to find that there is no discernable difference between children with same-sex parents and those with conventional families, and that once you allow for economics there’s no difference between children of single moms and those with two parents.


The only place where Harris has difficulty making “group socialization theory” fit the data is with divorced families, where studies do suggest children have problems. Harris dances around this; she suggests, again, that causality has been reversed (do children grow up badly when their parents divorce, or do bad children make parents divorce); she argues that perhaps researchers fail to account for the change in peer-group status caused by divorce; or maybe it has to do with the disruption caused by moving after a divorce and thus having to merge with a different peer group. There’s a couple of things that I’d like to investigate more; apparently divorce remains a problem for kids even if the mom remarries, but families where the mom is a widow rather than a divorcee don’t have similar difficulties.


The Nurture Assumption does offer some advice (Harris is tentative about offering it). Parents have some influence in choosing their offspring’s peer group by living in a “good” neighborhood with “good” schools (and thus, a “good” peer group). Parents should also accept that it’s a good idea to see that children “fit in” with their peer group in terms of clothing and behavior; she doesn’t go so far as to say that if you’re ten-year-old wants to dress like a hooker, you should let her, but that’s the implication. (I have a personal anecdote about this; when I was in second grade Mom bought me pants with vertical black and white stripes. While I lacked the vocabulary and rhetorical skills to explain the problem, I was pretty sure I’d be the laughing stock of Madison Elementary if I wore those to school. Tears, screaming, and spanking ensued, but eventually Mom gave the pants away and I didn’t have to wear them).


Overall I have to rate The Nurture Assumption pretty highly. Even if “group socialization theory” is wrong or incomplete, there’s still at lot to think about and a lot more books to read. No problem there. ( )
  setnahkt | Dec 27, 2017 |
Much maligned as a "parents don't matter, DNA is destiny" polemic, Harris actually advocates for the hypothesis that the peer group substantially influences who a person becomes, and provides substantial evidence to back this up. Genuinely changed my perspective with regard to how I will raise my children. Her brief section on homeschooling seems poorly researched, however, at least in the edition I read. ( )
  Kanst | Feb 22, 2017 |
Oh boy. Judith Rich Harris is poking the bear with this one. I can hear the helicopter parents descending now. Here come the emotional counterattacks.

The aggravating part is that I believe her, I sincerely do, even after lumbering through her unnecessarily long and repetitive case against the nurture assumption. Her arguments appeal to both science and experience. That's my kind of persuasion. Still, her claim would be stronger if had it been made in half as many pages. ( )
  Daniel.Estes | Aug 12, 2014 |
I found this book an interesting read. I thought parents had even more influence on a child's development.

I had expected the book to concentrate more on children in their very early stages (up to 5 yrs), but it took them all the way to their teens, which was kind of good.

"One of the strongest power a parent has is to choose their child's peers, at least in the early years."

There are a few places where the author can condense or make the matter concise to get to the point quickly, but it's all good. ( )
  nmarun | Mar 11, 2014 |
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"How much credit do parents deserve when their children turn out well? How much blame when they turn out badly? This book explodes some of our deepest beliefs about children and parents and gives us something radically new to put in their place. With eloquence and wit, Judith Harris explains why parents have little power to determine the sort of people their children become. It is what children experience outside the home, in the company of their peers, that matters most. Parents don't socialize children: children socialize children." "Harris looks with a fresh eye at the real lives of real children and shows that the nurture assumption is nothing more than a cultural myth. Why do the children of immigrant parents end up speaking in the language and accent of their peers, not of their parents? Why are twins reared together no more alike than twins raised apart? Why does a boy who spends his first eight years with a nanny and his next ten years in boarding school nevertheless turn out just like his father? The nurture assumption cannot provide an answer to these questions. Judith Harris can." "Through no fault of their own, good parents sometimes have bad kids. Harris offers parents wise counsel on what they can and cannot do, and relief from guilt for those whose best efforts have somehow failed to produce a happy, well-behaved, self-confident child."--Jacket.

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