Zoom Parenting Is Overrated

Parenting Is Overrated

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What shapes us more: our DNA, or the way we are raised? This debate, commonly referred to as "nature versus nurture," has stirred controversy for thousands of years. Emerging genetic research indicates that the scale may be tipping toward biology, or "nature” but the research is far from definitive. Proponents of the "nature" view argue that DNA plays the key role in determining who we are, as evidenced by identical twins and triplets who are separated at birth and, once reunited, show remarkable similarities despite different upbringings. Rather than trying to isolate the perfect parenting style, they contend, caregivers should look to their children's DNA to identify natural strengths and challenges to promote overall health and well-being. But critics strongly disagree, arguing that parenting is essential, and that the adults who raise us play the key role in determining our development, growth, and, ultimately, our lives. The "nurture" view also emphasizes research that shows how beliefs and behaviors are not innate, as evidenced by stark differences in the experiences of adolescence and other life stages across different cultures. Are they right? Or is parenting overrated?

Length: 83 minutes


Copyright date: ©2019

Closed Captioned

Debate "Housekeeping" (02:58)
Moderator John Donvan frames the debate on whether parenting is overrated and introduces panelists.

Opening Statement For: Robert Plomin (06:23)
Professor of Behavioral Genetics Plomin cites the importance of parenting in infancy. Research indicates that inherited DNA accounts for around 50% of psychological differences in children. Parents naturally respond to genetic differences in their children; environmental factors are unsystematic.

Opening Statement Against: Paige Harden (06:43)
Psychology Professor Harden asks "what if" when considering genetics and twin studies. Approximately 2.8 million children in the U.S. live in deep poverty and one in 16 children will be sexually victimized. She cites the importance of the systematic effects of culture.

Opening Statement For: Nancy Segal (06:14)
Psychology Professor and Fullerton Twin Studies Director Segal states that DNA is the driving force behind child characteristics and there are many misconceptions about parental influence. All behavioral traits have some degree of genetic influence; parents need to be sensitive to individual differences.

Opening Statement Against: Ann Pleshette Murphy (06:17)
Parenting Expert and Author Murphy states that despite genetics, children grow-up in an environment of relationships; parental response has a significant impact on self-esteem and other relationships. We should not dismiss a child's environment as random.

Probabilistic Influence (06:48)
Donvan summarizes opening statements. Proponents identify factors that genetics influence. Religious affiliation is a cultural social activity. Murphy argues that religion is a significant part of identity.

Innate Traits: Autism (03:42)
Harden concedes that parents have limited impact on initial level functioning at diagnosis, but response and access to resources has significant impact. Segal counters with the need to consider normal range studies.

Twin Studies (04:37)
Harden agrees that genetics are important, but asks what if one twin stays in the biological family and the other is adopted? Plomin counters that it is a mean difference.

Genetics and Expectations (02:07)
Murphy agrees that understanding fundamental characteristics is important, but thinking that actions do not matter is a slippery slope. Segal considers behavioral traits versus behaviors.

Q/A: Nature vs. Nurture (09:20)
Andrew Solomon cites a study on treating depressed children and a study on abusive/neglectful parents having abusive/neglectful children. Panelists discuss disentangling nature and nurture.

Q/A: Genetics vs. Environment Proportions (02:34)
Plomin states that experts are underestimating the total influence of genetics; whole genome sequencing will increase heritability prediction. Harden believes it is possible that twin studies are overestimates.

Q/A: Environment vs. Parenting (03:15)
Measuring environment is difficult because it has many factors; location and peer relationships are important influences. Plomin states that what cannot be defined with DNA differences is labeled as environment.

Q/A: 23andMe (02:49)
DNA ancestry studies are becoming more common. Murphy discusses understanding one's heritage and its impact on personal narratives.

Q/A: Peers and Parental Influence (04:04)
People pick friends based on similarities; they spend more time with peers than parents. Harden questions whether it is possible to disentangle genetics and environment, but believes environment is not "random noise."

Closing Statement For: Plomin (01:55)
Siblings in the same family are different, despite similar treatment. Genetics are more important than parents realize.

Closing Statement Against: Harden (01:54)
Harden reflects on obtaining medical care for her son after he broke his arm. There are many systematic forces in people's lives.

Closing Statement For: Segal (02:12)
Separated twins, virtual twins, and reared-apart triplets share similarities as a result of genetic influences; children influence parental behavior.

Closing Statement Against: Murphy (02:17)
Most psychological traits have a genetic underpinning, but parental influence matters. Arguing otherwise could allow powerful people to use it as an excuse to cut funding for social programs.

Time to Vote (04:40)
 instructs the audience to vote and thanks panelists for their participation. Panelists reflect on what parenting would become if parents incorporate predictive genetics.

Audience Voting Results (00:56)
Pre-debate For: 27% - Against: 52% - Undecided: 21% Post-debate For: 32% - Against: 59% - Undecided: 9%


Copyright Date:

Parenting Is Overrated



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