Friday, February 08, 2019

The latest parenting advice: “It makes no difference how you treat your kids”

She is of course right.  Many well balanced adults emerge from difficult childhoods and many disastrous kids emerge from good families.  She appears not to know why, however.

There is now an extensive genetics literature that tells us most traits are inherited. If you have the genes for emotional stability, for instance, you will mostly be stable even while in the care of a ratty mother.  And if you are lucky enough to be born with a high IQ, that will solve most of your problems.  Such people can come from very humble backgrounds and reach rare heights with little effort.

You actually have very little control over how your kids turn out.  The genetics literature is replete with research reports that show family background to be a totally trivial influence compared to the genetic given.  Your kids will turn out how their genetics dictate regardless of what you do.  So perhaps the best advice is simply to be kind to them.  You can at least make their childhood more or less happy

But while there is little you can do to help your kids psychologically, there are some social advantages you can give them:  A good accent, manners, proficiency in social sports (tennis, golf, cricket) etc.  But the chief good thing you can do to benefit your kid is undoubtedly to send him/her to a private school.  In Britain that opens all doors.  One young woman whom her middle-class parents sent to a private school is now set to be Queen of England.  Beat that!

Modern parenting literature portrays raising a child as difficult business. Make your own baby food or you risk raising a sugar addict. Letting a bored child play with your phone rather than sustainably sourced wooden blocks is an invitation to delinquency. Such advice is often premised on helping parents raise children “naturally,” perhaps as children were parented at some ideal time in the past. But, notes Jennifer Traig—a book author, humorist and mother of two—in “Act Natural,” the word “parenting” itself “only came into common usage about forty years ago, which I guess means parenting was invented after I was.”

As a frazzled new mother dealing with such deep questions as “Why is there yogurt on the TV?,” Ms. Traig decided to investigate the history of child-rearing practices and advice from around the globe. She discovered that “people have done crazy, crazy things to their children throughout history.” They have convinced themselves that vegetables are dangerous but beer is great. They have let children play with knives or sleep out in the cold, or told fairy tales involving dismemberment.

Her key takeaway is this: “Why do we think any of this matters? The best research indicates that little of it actually does. Above a certain threshold, it makes no difference how you treat your kids.”

In “Act Natural,” Ms. Traig mocks contemporary and historical parenting advice with usually spot-on dark humor. For starters, much of this advice has been written by people—such as monks and clergymen—who weren’t parents (or at least weren’t supposed to be). “It’s easy to think you know what to do when you’ve never actually spent any time with a toddler,” Ms. Traig observes.

Other “experts” had offspring but were terrible parents; Jean- Jacques Rousseau’s romantic conceptions of childhood have garnered fans for centuries despite the fact that he abandoned his own children to a foundling hospital.

Much has been based on pure speculation rather than research. We can laugh about this in historical writings, such as this early-1800s nonsense that Ms. Traig digs up: “In all cases of dwarfishness or deformity, ninety-nine out of a hundred are owing to the folly, misconduct or neglect of mothers.” But we somehow take it seriously when modern writers suggest that day care will ruin a child for life.

Ideally, modern parents surveying history with Ms. Traig will reach this conclusion: You should just relax. Feeling guilty because you only pumped breast milk twice a day at work, instead of three times, seems silly in light of a finding that “out of the 21,000 infants born in Paris in 1780, a full 17,000 were put out to country wet nurses.”

Ms. Traig wagers that modern parental neuroses have created problems where they did not exist before. “A lot of parenting’s thorniest issues—sleep resistance, picky eating—began when we started trying to fix something that wasn’t particularly broken in the first place.” When there’s one pot of gruel, you all eat it, or don’t, but there’s little point in feeling angsty about it. When there’s one bed for the whole family, you sleep when you sleep. The virtues of a strict 7:30 p.m. bedtime are less clear when the clock in the next town says something entirely different from your own. Somehow, the species survived.

How should you raise your children? Long ago, experts offered falsehood, myth and speculation. Modern parenting advice isn’t much better.

Ms. Traig, thank goodness, takes pains not to portray herself as an expert anyone should emulate. She confesses to handling one particular dilemma—that of needing to work but being unable to afford full-time child care—with the time-honored solution of turning on the television. “In our home we do not emphasize attachment parenting but connection of another kind: the entertaining tether of premium cable.”

It is expensive, Ms. Traig notes, “but given how much our children watch, it’s far less than the hourly rate we would pay a human to keep them occupied.” She notes that her children sleep terrifically, but rather than tout her own sleep methods she writes that in parenting “you win some, you lose some.” Her son survives on pizza and revolting sweets. Parenting philosophies probably matter less than genetics and the luck of the draw.

The one flaw of “Act Natural” is that Ms. Traig is so taken with the silliness of her historical material that she starts to repeat herself. The practice of swaddling babies for up to 24 hours at a time, partly so they don’t go anywhere— and perhaps partly to limit the frequency of pre-Pampers diapering to once a day—comes up a lot. Almost every other page has a footnote taking the reader off on a tangent that doesn’t quite fit in the narrative. (A paragraph on how famous teachers disciplined students leads to this: “Still, they got off easier than Beethoven’s cook, at whom he threw eggs,” followed by a discussion of adults biting children in the hopes of teaching them not to.) This can make for a disjointed reading experience. Her dark comedy is occasionally very dark, such as this observation on obstetric innovation: “The invention of the Chamberlens’ forceps meant that a stuck child could be guided out gently, with spoons, rather than piecemeal, with knives.”

The upside of reading “Act Natural” is that you feel better about whatever nonsense your children have committed, which is the point. “That is what the good advice books do,” Ms. Traig writes. “They make you feel like you’re doing a good job, even if it’s simply by reassuring you that someone else is doing a worse one.” So your kid ate Cheez-Its for breakfast. Most of us, at least, do change diapers more frequently than once every 24 hours.


The boom in egg-freezing is the fault of 'selfish men' and NOT because of career-minded women claims academic who's spent years researching the trend - and the sex war it can trigger

This is undoubtedly partly true but no insight is shown as to why.  In Britain the penalties attached to divorce are Draconian, and they are even more so if children are involved.  In Britain, a divorce can leave a man ruined in every sense.  Wise men therefore refuse to "commit".

The laws were put in place under feminist influence and are a prime example of how feminism hurts females.  Unlike feminists, most women WANT a baby. But feminists have put up huge roadblocks against that. They have done their best to ensure that wise men will NEVER marry

The laws were put in place to defend women from predatory men.  They have had the effect of making men fear predatory women

For her 30th birthday, Anna Brown was taken out for a special supper by her husband. Seizing the moment to have what she thought would be a wonderful watershed moment in their relationship, she said: 'Let's not wait any longer: I'm 30 now, we're happily married, let's start trying for a baby.'

Her husband's response? 'Oh my God. What? No, no, no.'

Bewildered and upset, Anna asked him if not now, when? To which he replied: 'I don't know. Maybe in a couple of years. But the more you talk about it the less I'm going to want to do it.'

Anna told me in retrospect that she knew then the relationship was over. But it was some time before she came to terms with the bitter truth that she'd have to end the marriage and find a partner who actively wanted to be a father if she was ever to fulfil her dream of motherhood. By then in her mid-30s, with her fertility waning, Anna took the step of freezing her eggs to buy herself more time.

She wanted to be able to get to know new prospective partners without the pressure on them, or herself, of having children immediately.

I don't know how her story ended, but it's typical of so many I am told. As a senior lecturer in the Centre for Reproduction Research at De Montfort University, Leicester, I specialise in researching the growing trend of women who freeze their eggs for non-medical purposes.

The number of egg freezing cycles performed in the UK rose by more than 400 per cent between 2010 and 2016. And although the most common age to freeze eggs is around 37, anecdotal evidence is beginning to suggest that women are engaging with this technology at an earlier age — perhaps spurred on by sustained media and public interest in the procedure.

But contrary to popular belief, the main reason for doing so is not because a woman's career comes first. When I hear that lazy assumption it makes me want to scream.

The truth is, 'social egg freezing' — when a woman chooses to do this rather than because she is having a medical procedure such as chemotherapy which will make her infertile — is linked to men and their behaviour.

Far from investing so heavily in their careers that they are egg freezing to postpone motherhood, single women are sensibly doing the maths in their early to mid-30s and working out that it takes at least a year to get to know if someone is the right partner and actively wants fatherhood, and then at least another year to enjoy life together, under no pressure, and another 18 months to get engaged and married.

I froze my eggs because my partners weren't ready to be Dads, by TV Doctor Zoe Williams:

Towards the end of last year, aged 38, I paid thousands of pounds to freeze my eggs (storing seven in total). I wish I'd done it sooner; the difference in the quality of your eggs aged 30 as opposed to eight years later is significant.

My late mother had suggested it when I was 34, but I felt I still had time so used my savings as a deposit for my first flat. Four years on, though, I feel there is nothing more important I could spend money on than the chance of having a child.

Even though I've always been career-focused, qualifying as a GP in 2013 and appearing regularly on ITV's This Morning and BBC's Trust Me I'm A Doctor, I've never prioritised work over becoming a mother.

This idea that women give precedence to education and career is a common misconception in society, which then tacitly blames them when they are unable to conceive later down the line.

Research has found that for most women, the reason is the same as it is for me. I haven't yet found the right partner, making me a classic case of social infertility. In my last two serious relationships, neither man felt as sure as I did that they wanted children.

I'm dating at the moment and when I do meet someone new, I'm pretty upfront about my desire to have kids. I don't see the point in pretending.

I find people are often ill-informed when it comes to fertility. It's drilled into us at school how not to get pregnant. This will rile some, but as a GP I feel children should also be educated, in schools, about how to get pregnant — and the importance of considering their fertility before it's too late. A woman is born with all the eggs she will ever have. As she ages her eggs age with her, and their number and quality reduces over time. Her chance of having a baby also reduces over time, especially for women older than 35.

Men need to consider their fertility, too. They are often surprised to learn a significant proportion of miscarriages occur because of the sperm, and sperm quality is linked to age. They don't always feel the same time pressures women do, and so delay fatherhood.

All of this can be exacerbated by advances in fertility treatment, but there are no guarantees, and IVF success rates decrease as we age. As a result of all of this, we're on the cusp of an infertility epidemic.

Women in Britain are more likely to end up without children than almost anywhere else in the West.

An international league table found a fifth of British women are childless in their early 40s. And the rate of childlessness among UK women is up by almost 50 per cent since the mid-1990s.

I'm speaking out because it's time we looked the issue of infertility square in the eye, investigating why babies continue to elude many women of my generation. The process of egg freezing is an emotional and physical rollercoaster. First you must inject yourself with hormones for two weeks. You may experience sickness and abdominal pain. By the end, I felt like I had two cricket balls in my pelvis and my hormone levels were more than 100 times the normal level.

Then there is the egg retrieval procedure, which requires sedation. Doctors were able to extract seven eggs that were good enough quality to freeze — which I was told is average for my age. The eggs are then frozen and stored in liquid nitrogen until you wish to try to create an embryo, and conceive.

There is a risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), a potentially serious complication that can arise from an excessive response to fertility drugs.

Then there's the cost — potentially up to £8,000 (including the egg freezing, scans and procedures).

I'm now considering using donor sperm so I can freeze embryos as well as eggs.

Egg freezing isn't for everybody, but I want women like me — who can't imagine their lives without a baby — to know it's out there. And to act sooner rather than later.

That's three years before even attempting to conceive.

For many of the women I speak to who live in big cities, the large number of single and unmarried adults creates less of a sense of urgency among men to pursue parenthood.

Women also tell me the men they meet simply aren't committing to fatherhood or are seeking relationships with younger women so that they are able to put off such decisions for longer.

According to the Office of National Statistics, the average age of fathers at the birth of a child has risen by four years in four decades and according to the latest figures recorded in 2017 is now 33.4 years.

Men's indecision about becoming a father seems to be acting as a drag on the fertility of some women around them. So the time and fertility equation just doesn't add up.

All of the women I spoke to in my research had assumed they would one day become mothers. They'd either been in long-term relationships they thought would lead to motherhood which had then broken down or they had not met a man they loved who was prepared to commit to starting a family.

They didn't want to use sperm donors to become single mothers or 'panic partner' with a man and regret it later.

None of the women I have talked to wanted to freeze their eggs. Many had spent years thinking about it, putting it off in the hope they would find a partner and conceive naturally.

But it was the lack of a suitable man who also wanted to become a father that was the problem.

I recall one lovely woman who effectively used egg freezing as a last ditch wake-up call for her partner, who flatly refused to start a family with her. He was older than her and already had a teenage son from his previous relationship. He had told her he didn't want any more children but she hoped he would change his mind as time went on.

When he didn't she decided, aged 34, to freeze her eggs — and to tell him she was doing so. He was supportive, but ultimately her actions ended their relationship. He, correctly, took it as a sign that if he didn't change his mind she would leave him for a man who wanted children with her. But at least through her decisive actions she found out exactly what he wanted and had her eggs banked in time to have the option of becoming a mother in the future.

Another woman, a film producer called Rosie, told me her decision to have her eggs frozen at 37 allowed her to be free of 'an intense and overwhelming anxiety about motherhood'.

She'd always known she wanted to have children but the serious relationship she thought would lead to parenthood stalled when they discussed children and he said he 'wasn't ready'. She then found herself single in her mid 30s, aware that time was running out.

So, at 37, she paid for egg freezing. 'It wasn't a guarantee but it felt comforting to know I had them banked,' she said.

Not long after, Rosie met a man who wanted a family and conceived naturally so she didn't need to use those banked eggs. (Her path to motherhood wasn't easy though, as she had four miscarriages before finally having a child at 46).

But I hear many variations of her story from the women I interview and not one of them has ever centred around a woman's desire to further her career at the expense of delaying motherhood.

Of course freezing eggs as an insurance policy is not any guarantee of future motherhood.

It is difficult to access high quality, reliable information about the chance of success with frozen eggs.

Data from the US suggests that if a 35-year-old woman freezes 20 eggs she may have up to 75 per cent chance of one of those eggs resulting in a live birth in the future.

However, a woman who undergoes the procedure when she is 39 will need 50 eggs to achieve the same likelihood of success.

The ideal age for women to attempt childbearing, biologically speaking, is between her late teens and early 30s but there is data showing men consistently overestimate older women's ability to conceive and the success rates of IVF.

Figures from the UK Fertility Regulator, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), show that only 15 per cent of IVF cycles in women aged 40-42 result in a live birth.

Other women told me that having frozen their eggs they were then in a dilemma about whether or not to tell the men they dated they had done so.

Some of them said their male friends had cautioned them, 'Don't tell any men you meet you've done it, they'll think you're mad'.

Their own thoughts were often that the person they were dating needed to know their commitment to having a baby — it was a kind of potential mate litmus test.

One of the biggest problems faced by women who have undergone social egg freezing is that under current legislation their frozen eggs have to be used or destroyed after ten years.

By contrast, women who freeze their eggs due to illnesses such as cancer can store eggs for up to 55 years.

The ten-year time limit on the storage of eggs frozen for social reasons effectively works to discourage women from freezing their best quality eggs when they are in their 20s, as they would have to be destroyed before the time they may most want to use them.

As a result, many fertility experts, academics and clinicians have been campaigning to extend the ten-year time limit on eggs frozen for social reasons to allow women the time they need to complete their families.

At the moment egg freezing is only as good as the IVF it ultimately depends on for a successful outcome.

When that improves and legislation catches up with need, I wonder if mothers will be giving daughters egg freezing as an 18th birthday present.

Of course, what they would really be giving is the gift of avoiding panic partnering, of allowing motherhood with the right man at the right time.

That said, until men rethink their priorities and start to see fatherhood in a different light, this gift may be redundant.


Peer Pressure Gender Perils
Parents used to worry about “peer pressure” encouraging their kids to experiment with alcohol or drugs, or to have sex. Now, they have to worry that it may encourage their kids (especially daughters) to change sex altogether.

If you are a parent of a child or teenager, you owe it to yourself to read World magazine’s latest cover story, which addresses the relatively new but expanding phenomenon of “rapid-onset gender dysphoria,” abbreviated “ROGD.”

Advocates for the LGBT movement have long argued that you can diagnose “gender dysphoria” in children who are “consistent, insistent, and persistent” in expressing a discomfort with their birth sex from an early age. Just like we are (wrongly) told about people who identify as homosexual, people who identify as transgender are born that way, we’ve been assured.

Now, however, social trends are evolving so rapidly that even the pseudo-scientists of the sexual revolution are having a hard time keeping up. Children (especially girls) who have successfully navigated childhood without a hint of gender confusion are suddenly, shortly after hitting puberty, declaring that they are the opposite sex (or “genderqueer,” or “agender,” or one of dozens of other “gender identities”).

“What’s going on?” parents ask. “Is this a biological issue?” If it were, we wouldn’t expect such declarations to suddenly emerge from a half a dozen girls in one friend group at the same time. And we wouldn’t expect them to use almost the exact same language in making such declarations.

Last summer, Dr. Lisa Littman of Brown University published a study based on interviews with over 200 parents of children who had experienced “rapid-onset gender dysphoria.” Most of the parents were not social conservatives (85% supported allowing legal civil marriages for same-sex couples), but they were taken aback by what happened to their children.

Two things were common to the parental accounts — neither of which had anything to do with being “born that way.” There was a strong element of “social contagion” at work; and the young people were being coached by websites as to how to demand — and get — puberty-blocking or cross-sex hormones and even, for some, elective double mastectomies. And in 2019, such teens are not inviting persecution to be “true to themselves” — 60 percent of parents thought coming out as transgender increased their child’s popularity at school. “Being trans is a gold star in the eyes of other teens,” wrote one.

FRC’s Cathy Ruse and Peter Sprigg have previously written about the Littman study, and the transgender backlash it provoked. It now seems clear that among the values parents need to instill in children from an early age is an appreciation for how God made them male or female. And limiting children’s time on the internet and social media is not just to make sure they get their homework done.


Is Reality Optional?

Walter E. Williams
Suppose I declare that I am a king. Should you be required to address me as “Your Majesty”? You say, “Williams, that’s lunacy! You can’t prove such nonsense.” You’re wrong. It’s proved by my declaration. It’s no different from a person born with XY chromosomes declaring that he is a woman. The XY sex determination system is the sex determination system found in humans and most other mammals. Females typically have two of the same kind of sex chromosome (XX) and are called the homogametic sex. Males typically have two different kinds of sex chromosomes (XY) and are called the heterogametic sex.

Governments are beginning to ignore biology and permit people to make their sex optional. Sex can be changed on one’s birth certificate, passport, Social Security card and driver’s license. In New York, intentional or repeated refusal to use an individual’s preferred name, pronoun or title is a violation of the New York City Human Rights Law. If a person born with XY chromosomes asserts that he is a woman, then repeatedly addressing the person by the name on his birth certificate, referring to the person as “him” or addressing him as “Mister” violates the law and subjects the villain to heavy penalties. The law requires acknowledgment that sex is optional rather than a biological determination.

Do the people who support the optionality of sex also support the optionality of age? My birth certificate shows 1936 as my year of birth. Age cutoffs exclude me from many jobs, such as police officer, service member and firefighter. If one can change his sex on his birth certificate according to how he feels, why not his age? I think I’ll petition to change my year of birth to 1972.

Super Bowl LIII made history. For the first time, there were two male dancers working out with a cheerleading squad — in this case, with the Los Angeles Rams’ squad. Men being on the field with female squads is not new. They’ve helped the women with stunts. But Quinton Peron and Napoleon Jinnies danced with the female cheerleaders and performed all the same moves. It’s nice to see cheerleader barriers fall, but there’s another form of rampant cheerleader discrimination that needs to be addressed. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a full-figured older female cheerleader for any professional sports team. Most appear to be younger than 30 and don’t look as if they weigh more than 120 pounds.

There are other forms of discrimination in sports. There’s a sensible argument that can be made for segregating sexes in football, boxing, basketball and ice hockey. Men are typically stronger and bigger than women, so integrating sports such as football, boxing, basketball and ice hockey would lead to disproportionate injury and possibly death to women. But what about sports in which there’s no contact, such as tennis, bowling, billiards and swimming? Why should there be men’s teams and women’s teams? Why aren’t feminists protesting against this kind of sports segregation? After all, feminists have ignored the huge strength, aggressiveness and competitiveness differences between men and women in their demands that women be assigned to military combat units.

Refusing to acknowledge chromosomal differences and giving people the right to declare their sex can lead to opportunities heretofore nonexistent. For example, the men’s fastest 100-meter speed is 9.58 seconds. The women’s record is 10.49 seconds. What if a male sprinter with 10-second speed claimed womanhood, ran in the women’s event and won the gold? A lower bar to achieving fame and fortune exists in women’s basketball. It would take only a few tall men who claim they are women to dominate the game.

Suppose a college honored the right of its students to free themselves from biological determinism and allowed those with XY chromosomes to play on teams formerly designated as XX teams. What if an “unenlightened” women’s basketball team refused to play against a team with a starting five consisting of 6-foot-6-inch, 200-plus-pound XYers? The NCAA should have a rule stating that refusal to play a mixed-chromosome team leads to forfeiture of the game. It’s no different from a team of white players refusing to play another because it has black players.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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