Re: Are there smartdrugs?

Lee Daniel Crocker (
Wed, 13 Oct 1999 16:17:18 -0700 (PDT)

> I also think it is a problem that child bearing, child rearing is
> considered to be a low status occupation.
> ...
> Give a child to a mother of normal intelligence who swears up and down
> that she does want a baby. And 9 out of 10 of them will raise happy
> healthy children.
> But you give a child to a mother with an IQ of 80, who thinks that having
> a kid is really cool. And everyone who sees the situation will shake
> their head and say 'that poor unwanted child'.

There's a little too much intellectual snobbery there for my tastes. Intelligence is a good thing, but there are personality traits I admire more, like honesty and courage, and which are just as likely to result in successful child rearing. As Judith Harris argues eloquently in "The Nurture Assumption", a mediocre parent is just as likely to be successful as a talented one. It really takes serious abuse to screw up a kid for life. "Child care" is certainly important, but it really shouldn't be a high-status high-paid job because it doesn't need to be.

This suggests some different models of how to raise successful kids. As much as our society might look down upon the practice of wealthy parents dumping their kids on underpaid nannies, that model really does make good economic sense: invest in good genes, then hire adequate care for the kids while you're off doing something better suited to your talents. Another model is for the IQ 80 mom: find a guy with good genes to fool around with, and invest your time (and that of your husband if any) in caring for the child while the stud with good genes goes on to spread them elsewhere.

I personally couldn't imagine not raising my own kids hands-on. But maybe that's not such a waste of talent for an unambitious philosopher who's not going to set the world on fire anyway. I certainly can imagine having them with a less intelligent woman; indeed there are many women I've known who weren't the sharpest knives in the drawer but who were honest, dedicated, caring women with whom I would have been proud to raise a child (alas, most of them were involved with other men at the time).

Lee Daniel Crocker <> <>
"All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past,
are placed irrevocably in the public domain, and may be used or modified
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