It\’s true that boys who lack firm parenting and social advantages cause many of the worst problems in our communities, but, generally, if you feed and exercise male children, let them shout "bang", dismantle radios and develop a few hobbies, they\’re fairly simple creatures.

Rowan Pelling.

2 thoughts on “Quite”

  1. Judith Rich Harris’s book The Nurture Assumption convincingly argued (among other things) that kids are (mostly) similar to their parents due to inheritance – and that parenting effort has an almost undetectable effect on shaping personality (and IQ).

    In other words (to simplify) most wild kids are the children of wild parents, and they are wild because of their genes not upbringing.

    Harris’s second proposition was that peer groups have the second most important effect – and these depend on where kids live, what schools they attend etc.

    The point being that this author assumes (without argument) that ‘firm parenting and social advantages’ are the main determinants of kids, behaviour – neither of which is true. ‘Good genes and nice friends’ would be closer to the mark.

  2. The two halves of the proposition are true but utterly unrelated.

    The lack of firm parenting has nothing to do with whether or not the male children in question are fed, exercised, allowed to shout bang and/or develop hobbies.

    The lack of firm parenting in boys – in particular – is about firm discipline. Fail to instil a clear sense of discipline in a boy and you have a wild animal.

    They need freedom to try stuff (climbing trees etc), but they also need to know what stuff they are going to SERIOUSLY punished for if they do try it (stealing, offences against the person, that kind of thing).

    Worse still, it’s because boys are indeed relatively simple creatures that the failure to instil relatively simple rules of behaviour is so utterly inexcusable.

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