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Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent is Less Work and More Fun Than You Think Hardcover – Bargain Price, April 12, 2011
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“This is one of the best books on parenting, ever. It will bring life into the world, knowledge to your mind, and joy into your heart.”
“A lively, witty, thoroughly engrossing book. Bryan Caplan looks at parenting from the viewpoint of an economist, as well as a father. His conclusions may surprise you but he has the data to back them up.”
“I loved this book. Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids should be required reading for parents—as it will be for my children, who are now having their own kids and getting caught up in the more-work, less-fun traps of parenting covered here. And as a geneticist, I can report that Bryan Caplan has the facts right. Even better, he interprets those facts in a way that will change our view of parenting.”
“Provocative, fascinating, and utterly original, Bryan Caplan’s book overturns the conventional wisdom about why parenting matters.”
“In a nutshell, Caplan believes that parents put too much pressure on themselves to raise perfect children, when there is very little evidence that hyper-parenting does much good and plenty of evidence that it does harm by stressing parents out. . . . [M]ost kids just need a calm house with parents who love them, he says. Deep down, most of us know that. And once you release yourself from the drudgery of perfect parenting, your kids will relax and probably flourish, too.”
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Top Customer Reviews
First: This book does NOT tell you that you should just put your child in front of the television all the time, because your parenting makes no difference. It also doesn't tell you that you should feed your kids fast foods, stop monitoring them altogether, or otherwise neglect them, because it won't matter. This is NOT what the book is about. The fast food and TV instances that (defensive sounding?) people seem to cling to like a last straw are given as examples in specific cases: If both you and your child are stressed out, and you're trying to force the kid to do something they don't want to do because YOU think it's important for their future (e.g. practice violin or go to ballet class), and you're stressed and screaming at them to do it, and no one's happy, THAT'S when the book suggests to relax, take an hour for yourself, and let the TV babysit. The idea is that a relaxed, happy parent, is FAR more important to a child's long term well being than an hour of ballet. And any parent who's ever been stressed (i.e., ALL parents), know that their stress does not rub off very well on the kids.
Second: This book doesn't say that parenting doesn't matter AT ALL. It says that REASONABLE parenting, with love, affection, attention, and fun times spent together is sufficient to let your child make the most of their potential. You do not have to be a SUPER parent, just a loving attentive normal parent, to achieve the same results.
Third: This book doesn't say everyone should have more children.Read more ›
The central message of this book is based in simple economics. Right now you have some sense of the costs and benefits of having children, and you use this idea to determine the optimal number of children for your family. The book explains how and why most people are wrong about these costs and benefits: children are almost certainly less costly than you think, and they are probably at least as beneficial as you think.
Whether or not you're convinced to have more kids, this book contains practical parenting advice. Key to idea that having children isn't as costly as you think is that most parental effort intending to change a child's long-term outcome is wasted. Caplan cites decades of research in behavioral genetics to make his case, to borrow one of the book's best metaphors, that children are much more like plastic that responds to pressure in the short term and eventually returns to its original shape than they are like clay.
The curious but skeptical reader should be glad to know that Caplan devotes a considerable portion of the book to anticipating and responding to criticism. In the months of pre-release debates about the book I have not seen one criticism that isn't addressed in detail within the text. So even if the idea of the book seems nearly implausible to you, I still recommend giving it a shot: it probably addresses your objection directly.
On a personal note, reading this book convinced me that I should want more kids than before. For that reason I think it will end up being among the most influential books I've ever read in my life, without exaggeration. I hope it does the same for you, because (as also noted in the book) your children aren't only good for you, but they're good for the world. So go forth, get the book, be fruitful, and multiply.
And in the middle, you get one jaw-dropping result after another that can be basically summarized as: RELAX. Your day-to-day parenting may have some short-term consequences but in the long-run, your children will basically turn out just like you. Want proof? You turned out like your parents, didn't you?
The book can be summarized with two results: one is that parental nagging or reminding or anything else DOES NOT AFFECT DENTAL HYGIENE.
This is pretty remarkable.
If you can't control your kids dental hygiene, a process that you can monitor and schedule and confirm -- meaning, if no matter what you do, the health of their adult teeth will ultimately be determined by genes anyway, unless of course you knock them all out -- then what hope do you have of affecting their grades or their IQ or their future income? Turns out those things too are genetic.
So Caplan's conclusion is, since your actions matter very little at the margin, just relax. Have some more kids and just hang out. Don't stress out.
I've read Freakonomics and Parentonomics and The Idle Parents and a bunch more. This is the clearest evidence-based parenting book that your actions don't matter (though the last two chapters of the original Freakonomics make essentially the same point about the importance of parenting essentially ending at birth, they do not go to the next logical step of recommending you have more kids).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
American moms spend more time taking care of kids today than they did in the 1960's. This is perhaps the most surprising of many bold but well-backed claims in economist Bryan... Read morePublished 4 months ago by James B.
He has some good points and information, I thought the studies dragged on a bit.Published 4 months ago by LH
A nice book, but a little repetitive in its arguments and justifications.Published 9 months ago by Camila M Barros
I liked the book, liked the premise of it, it makes some good points. Not so sure it was very convincing, that is enough to influence one to have more kids.....Published 16 months ago by Bookem
Bryan Caplan’s Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent is Less Work and More Fun Than You Think is a joyful and welcome antidote to the common, tired and... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Joe
This is a great book for the facts on nature vs nuture. Nature wins and is a great arguement for more relaxed parenting.Published 19 months ago by John Riordan
Listening to the venting new moms at work I have recently become very overwhelmed with the thought of having just one kid. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Courtney
This book started out strong but lost me in the middle. I am an engineer and had my first child this year at age 30. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Jill