Friday, March 24, 2006

Best practice in child-rearing

As Gilbert and Sullivan – and not either Gilbert O’Sullivan or Gilbert and George – observed as long ago as 1882:

Then let’s rejoice with loud fal la – fal la la!
That nature always does contrive – fal la la!
That every boy and every girl
That’s born into the world alive
Is either a little liberal
Or else a little conservative!
Fal la la!

Actually, the contention is not quite true. My two were born little revolutionary socialists. Both know full well that if they have not signed up with a young Trotskyist faction by their early teens at the latest, daddy will be forced to reconsider the traditional strictures against senseless and brutal corporal punishment that usually go with 'right on parent territory'. Never did me any harm, did it?

Now the latest edition of The Journal of Research into Personality - not regularly on my reading list, it's true - investigates matters further. A two decade study of 90 children in Berkeley, California has concluded that the nice, well-adjusted kids grow up to be lefties, while the insecure ones turn into rightwingers.

‘The whiny kids tended to grow up conservative, and turned into rigid young adults who hewed closely to traditional gender roles and were uncomfortable with ambiguity,’ concludes professor Jack Block.

‘The confident kids turned out liberal and were still hanging loose, turning into bright, non-conforming adults with wide interests. The girls were still outgoing, but the young men tended to turn introspective.’

As the Yiddish aphorism has it, and this is news?


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