Friday, January 29, 2010

Lenore Skenazy is my new hero

One of the economics blogs that I really like (econlog) has a blogger that I really like (Bryan Caplan). He's writing a book about parenting that I'm anxious to read. And he recently blogged about another parenting book that he really likes.

You'll notice a lot of "really like"s in that last paragraph. Basically, they all contributed to my desire to read this book. I was pretty close to pulling the trigger on Amazon, when my wife suggested I see if the local public library has it. And it did. But not only that, it turns out that they had it available as an MP3 download. So I've been listening to it on my phone to & from work for the last 2 days.  And it's fantastic.

The book is about how we parents are overly hyper about the safety of our kids. Safety's a good thing. A very good thing. But not when the additional cost brings about minimal safety. My favorite fact from the book (so far) relates to our fears, as parents, of having our children abducted. And that these fears are ridiculously overblown. To prove it she pulls out a statistic: there is a 1 in 1.5 million chance that your child will get abducted. That's pretty small. But because we humans have a hard time with very large numbers, Skenazy quotes another way of looking at these odds. If you were trying to get your child abducted and held overnight, how long would you have to leave them outside, unsupervised before the odds were likely that this happened? 750,000 years! Of course, no one wants their child abducted. It's a thought experiment. And the results: 750,000 years. That's how ridiculously unlikely it is that our children will be abducted.

Now *that* is a useful point of view. I strongly encourage everyone, but especially parents, to read this book. Or listen to it. It's also a useful as an anti-condescension tool for non-parents.

Also, the author has a very good blog.