Cultural Revolutions

Influence on Behavior

Dartmouth Medical School has published the results of research concerning parental influence upon children’s behavior in the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.  Lo and behold: Parents’ “preaching” works!  Their lectures have a “positive impact” on teenage behaviors such as smoking and drug use—even when parents themselves engage in such activities.

Similar findings are cited by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, among others.  Analysts even go so far as to say that straightforward messages and high expectations of parents actually blunt the effects of peer pressure.

“We overrate the rebelliousness of teenagers. . . . Parents underestimate their influence on their children,” reported Dr. James Sargent, associate professor of pediatrics at Dartmouth Medical School.  “[Parents] have an overly heightened concern about coming down hard on their kids.”

Well, of course they do.  After 40 years of being inundated with admonitions from child psychologists against “preaching” (“kids won’t listen”), about children being “decision makers” (“let them discover their own values”), and citing the disadvantages of moralizing (“teens will do it anyway”), parents have concluded their wisdom is more destructive than...

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