Linda Nielsen, one of the professors who presented research at the International Conference on Shared Parenting 2017, talked about critical analysis of shared parenting studies. Outcomes for children of separated or divorced parents in shared parenting (the Nordic researchers define this as 50/50 time, but most American researchers call any split of 35/65 to 50/50 “shared”) are better than for children who spend more than 65 percent of their time with just one parent. But perhaps this is because, at least in the U.S. where shared parenting has typically required agreement by the parents, the parents who do agree tend to have a higher income.
Nielsen looked at 27 studies where the income of the parents was available and determined that higher income for children in shared parenting does not explain the superior outcomes. Why is this believable? Nielsen said that if you look at the same metrics for children in intact families, excluding those in poverty, there are “not strong links between family income and children’s emotional, behavioral, and psychological well-being. In fact, richer kids may do worse.” Nielsen noted that the parent-child relationship, in particular, may be worse with children in wealthier families.
When we were kids in the 1970s (black and white TV, no Facebook, glaciers still covering most of North America, etc.), it was folk-wisdom that rich kids tended to be neglected by their parents, who were busy with cocktail parties at the country club, kid-free ski trips to Colorado, etc. They had their own rooms, sometimes with their own TVs (color!), and typically a car on their 16th birthdays (this was so long ago that teenagers actually got off their butts and learned to drive!). We envied them for their material prosperity, but would have conjectured that they were, on average, worse off.
With rage over inequality being, well, the current rage, the assumption seems to be that rich kids are actually better off. Thurston Howell V is getting his Mandarin lessons, the elite private school, and entry into a fancy college (see Elizabeth Holmes, of Theranos fame, as a real-world example).
Readers: Whom should we believe? The New York Times and the Zeitgeist? Or the research psychology professor and her data?
- Antonio Garcia Martinez linked on Facebook to “Stop Pretending You’re Not Rich” (nytimes). I pointed out that “The article assumes that rich parents somehow buy success for their children. However, http://www.nber.org/papers/w10894 looks at Korean kids adopted by Americans and finds that there is almost no correlation between parental income and the income of the children.” and also “If this guy is right, are a lot of American parents needlessly worried about their brats? English lords didn’t worry about their children not becoming English aristocrats, right? If all that one needs to do in the U.S. to have successful children is, as the NYT suggests, earn $200k/year, why do people who earn $200k+/year lose sleep at night over how their kids are doing? Just use some of that $200k+ to pay for a private high school and the kid is guaranteed to do pretty well. So the parents can catch up on Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix.”
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