Lack of Evidence-Based Child-Rearing in Society

s any new mother or father knows, nothing so invites advice as a new baby in the house. Other parents. Grandma, the lady next door, a stranger on the street, the family physician, and stacks and stacks of child-care books are happy to give directions about the "correct" way to care for an infant. What most parents do not know is that these various tidbits of advice, and even the consensus "rules" of parenting that have such an aura of credibility, are, for the most part, based on a mix of tradition, fad, and folk wisdom with a modicum of science. In fact, few have ever studied whether or not the rules of one society work better than the traditions of another society in producing functional, happy adults. If a parent talks to his baby, will it learn to speak earlier? No one knows. If you sleep with your baby, will it become emotionally dependent? Who knows. Yet societies establish these "rules" about various parenting techniques that imply there is a right and a wrong way to go about parenting. And the advice is usually offered in such ominous tones—^make a mistake and your child may turn out socially inept, not very bright, maladjusted, or worse—that parents often follow these rules, or accept die advice, without considering that there might be alternative ways that also make sense. In addition, even the hard-and-fast parenting rules slip and slide, evolve and change, as societies change.

Notes:

There are many cultural norms, folk wisdom, and "common sense" ideas about how children should be raised, but there is very little research to prove what actually works.

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 Our Babies, Ourselves: How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Small , Meredith (1999-05-04), Our Babies, Ourselves: How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent, Anchor, Retrieved on 2011-06-29
Folksonomies: parenting pregnancy babies infancy parenthood