Myth of the Spoiled Child

Alfie Kohn, author of The Myth of the Spoiled Child
Topic:
Challenging the conventional wisdom about children and parenting
Issues: Parents are accused of being permissive and overprotective, unwilling to set limits and afraid to let their kids fail. At the same time, young people are described as entitled and narcissistic. But there is no scientific evidence at all to support these claims.

Finding the Truth behind the Headlines

statistics

Dear Mr. Dad: Like you, I enjoy reading about new research findings in health and parenting. But I get really frustrated when what’s in the headlines isn’t always what’s in the actual research. How can I find the truth?

A: You’ve hit on one of my biggest pet peeves. As Mark Twain said about 100 years ago, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” You can find a study to support just about anything you believe. And if you can’t, statistics are easy to manipulate, massage, shoehorn, and just plain distort. Here are a few examples.
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Kids need to lose weight? Let ‘em sleep on it.

Anytime the topic of childhood obesity (or adult obesity, for that matter) comes up, the top two solutions are always diet and exercise. But here’s the problem. Even though everyone knows about diet and exercise, they just don’t work. Despite the scare tactics about eating right and getting off the couch, there are three factors that are actually much more successful.

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From the “Well, Doh!” department

New study out shows that having kids lowers marital satisfaction. Actually, there have been a lot of studies that show the same thing. But this one, which tracked over 200 couples for eight years, found that 90 percent of them experienced a drop off in happiness after having children.

Geez, what do you expect when all personal growth and development goes out the window, there’s no sex, no sleep, and you’re on the all-kids-all-the-time channel.

So how do you stay in the top 10%? Got to find something–anything–to talk about besides the baby/child. Lots to choose from–wars, the economy, the housing bubble, whether you should trade in your iPad2 for a 3. That’s my commentary. More info on the recent satisfaction study at: http://yourlife.usatoday.com/sex-relationships/story/2012-03-07/Years-of-research-point-to-strain-kids-put-on-relationships/53403700/1

Beam Me Up, Scotty—Or is That Too Dangerous?

Dear Readers: A few weeks ago I devoted a column to the issue of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) generated by cell phones and other electronic devices that many people worry are causing an increase in a variety of cancers as well as a host of other health risks. That column generated a huge response from readers. Some of you were thrilled to see your fears validated in print. Many others, though, took issue with the claims of the two book authors I’d quoted. Being a big believer in intellectual honesty, I decided to dig a little deeper into the “other side” of the story. Here’s what I found:
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