Monday, September 26, 2005

Parents vs. Peers

The Washington Times has an interesting column about the book Hold On To Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers. The book theorizes that a significant problem with teenagers (and, by extension, schools) is that society currently encourages them to identify with their peers rather than with their parents.

A solution proposed by the authors? Homeschooling.

(Hat tip: HomeSchoolBuzz.)

Update: An interesting rather contrarian viewpoint is in a column in today's USA Today in which the author suggests that one answer for challenging gifted students is...boarding school. (Input "boarding school" in the USA TODAY search engine...the direct link to the article isn't working.)

The columnist's offhanded, derisive dismissal of parents who wouldn't welcome a boarding school education for their children as "hovering" "best friend" wannabe's fails to address this key point: teenage children (yes, they're still children) who are away several months out of the year are not being parented by their parents; they're being parented by strangers and may be too intensely connected to their peers (see article at the top of this post).


Blogger UGN said...


A very interesting topic that coincidentally I have been thinking a lot about lately. Two recent books that I have read refered to the work of Judith Rich Harris that speaks to this very topic. Harris has written a book called The Nurture Assumption that purports to show that parents matter way less than peers. I haven't read the book yet (it beckons from my night stand), but it is next on my list. I'll keep you posted.

7:36 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I'd love to hear more about your reading and any conclusions you may reach on this topic, I find it very interesting as well.

8:11 PM  
Blogger UGN said...

Well, from what I have heard about the book (The Nuture Assumption), I think I will agree with its conclusions. Basically the book seeks to show that parents do not have any important long-term effects on a child's personality. I have long felt that peers mattered more than we would like to admit. "Bad company corrupts good morals" is an old saying that I have seen proven true again and again.

On the other hand, I doubt that the book or the studies it contains accounts for the effect of homeschooled, prayed-for-before inception kids.

8:42 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

It sounds like The Nurture Assumption would make interesting back-to-back reading with Hold On To Your Kids (I read up about it on Amazon after reading your note).
I think Hold On To Your Kids agrees as far as the importance of peer influences, but seeks to provide answers for counteracting that. And of course, you've got a great point that there are certain kids who may fall outside of the "typical" child discussed in The Nuture Assumption -- would its theories still apply in those cases?

8:47 PM  

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