When we saw the article headline Do Parents Matter? our eyes and brain came to a screeching halt. "Well I should hope so!" we thought. The article was an interview with Judith Rich Harris, author of the (recently revised and updated) book, The Nurture Assumption: Why Children Turn Out The Way They Do. Her controversial thesis is that children's behavior may be more closely related to their peer group than to your parenting. This was a disheartening thought until we realized, "Heck, I'm not to blame!"
Harris questions our long-held assumption that parents are the primary shapers of their kids' personalities, development and behavior. Her attempts to dismantle what she considered "deeply flawed" scientific studies to this effect were roundly critiqued by psychologists when the book was first published in 1998, but she hasn't given up her argument that children may be most influenced by the socialization power of their same-sex peers and even by their teachers.