Preface: “Parentology” Defined
-jee] [ipa: p er en t l e d i] noun: A philosophy of highly engaged child rearing in which one (A) accesses all relevant research; (B) makes a practice of constantly weighing said research against
one’s own experience and
common sense; and (C) invents unique methodologies on the fly and fearlessly carries them out in order to test creative hypotheses
about best practices for one’s own particular offspring.
Like Mormonism and Jazz, Parentology is a uniquely American, improvisational approach to the raising of children. It relies on both modern science and old school intuition. Related forms: Parentologist: One who practices parentology. Synonyms: Jazz parenting; post-Spock parenting; scientific American parenting Antonyms: Old-world parenting; traditional parenting; textbook parenting; tiger mothering; bringing up bébé
Origin: 2014, portmanteau of “parenting” + “ology” (as in study
Chapter 1: What
When You’re Expecting
“Everything our parents said was good is bad.
Sun, milk, red meat . . . college.”
Alvy Singer in
WHAT WOODY ALLEN claimed thirty-five years ago holds equally true today: parenting advice is always changing and often wrong. In 2014, milk is good again (the Dutch have the highest per capita dairy consumption and as a result are the tallest population on Earth and have the lowest rate of osteoporosis and hip fractures in old age)
unless of course you are one of the increasing ranks of the lactose or casein intolerant. Sun is also good again, since one of the theories du jour is that we collectively suffer from a vitamin D deficit and seasonal affective disorder. But too much sun is bad if you are skin type one (i.e. pasty white). Meanwhile, if
you can never get enough rays in North America. College, it turns out, is neither good nor bad
—if you’re not poor, what really
matters is gaining admission, regardless of whether you go or not.
Given such complex and contradictory messages, perhaps it’s
time to scrap the parenting advice book and learn how to figure out things for ourselves. After all, since we have no common culture or history, we American parents are constantly improvising on our kids whether we admit it or not. What this book argues is that we should rationalize these jazz-like parenting approaches into a scientific methodology: experimental parenting.
is all about trial and error, hypothesis
and revision. For there’s simply no
one-formula-fits-all to raising
successful, compassionate kids in today’s impossibly complex and
radically overstimulating world.