Have You Chosen the Right Preschool For Your Kids Yet?

Pamela Druckerman reports that helicopter parenting works a treat. It turns out that in a world dominated by huge income inequality, obsessing over your kid’s preschool is totally the right thing to do:

For the most part, the new parenting efforts seemed effective. Dr. Doepke and Dr. Zilibotti can’t prove causality (to do that, you’d have to randomly assign parenting styles to different families). But when they analyzed the 2012 PISA, an academic test of 15-year-olds around the world, along with reports from the teenagers and their parents about how they interact, they found that an “intensive parenting style” correlated with higher scores on the test. This was true even among teenagers whose parents had similar levels of education.

It’s not enough just to hover over your kids, however. If you do it as an “authoritarian” parent — defined as someone who issues directives, expects children to obey and sometimes hits those who don’t — you won’t get the full benefits. The most effective parents, according to the authors, are “authoritative.” They use reasoning to persuade kids to do things that are good for them. Instead of strict obedience, they emphasize adaptability, problem-solving and independence — skills that will help their offspring in future workplaces that we can’t even imagine yet.

And they seem most successful at helping their kids achieve the holy grails of modern parenting: college and postgraduate degrees, which now have a huge financial payoff. Using data from a national study that followed thousands of American teenagers for years, the authors found that the offspring of “authoritative” parents were more likely to graduate from college and graduate school, especially compared with those with authoritarian parents. This was true even when they controlled for the parents’ education and income.

Hmmm. I’d say my parents were authoritative but not obsessive. In fact, I feel a BCG matrix coming on:

Which kind of parent are you?

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