Parenting Doesn’t Matter (Or Not As Much As You Think)

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‘Raising Happy Kids‘, ‘The Conscious Parent‘, ‘How to Talk so Kids Will Listen‘: Books like these, along with magazines, television shows and childcare experts, are all part of the multibillion-pound parenting industry. Follow our advice, they promise, and you can shape your children to be joyful, resilient and successful.

But what if it’s all bunk? What if parenting doesn’t make much of a difference at all to the way our kids turn out? That’s the argument that will be made by the genetics experts in this major Intelligence Squared debate. We all know about the nature vs nurture argument, but it’s only recently that evidence has emerged revealing just how much of who we are is influenced by our DNA – from our personality and our likelihood of developing mental illness to how well we do at school. We might think that certain parenting styles produce certain kinds of children – for example, that overprotective parents cause their offspring to be anxious. But in fact, research suggests that these traits are manifestations of the same gene…

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