Intelligence Squared debate: Parenting is overrated

A woman holds her baby daughter.
Noya Israel holds her 4-month-old daughter Kezia Thursday, July 18, 2019 at Roots Community Birth Center.
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR

A new debate from the Intelligence Squared series.

What shapes us more: our DNA, or the way we’re raised?

The nature-versus-nurture debate has drawn disagreement for thousands of years, and emerging genetic research indicates that the scale may be tipping away from parenting and toward biology; but not all trust the research.

Is parenting, and all the time and resources that go into it, overrated?

The debate motion is: “Parenting is overrated.”

For the motion:

Robert Plomin, professor of behavioral genetics, King's College London.
"...genetics is much more important than parents know. Parents don't have as much control as they think they do."

Nancy Segal, professor of psychology, California State University, Fullerton & director, Twin Studies Center.
"Children are not blank slates; they come into the world with steady predispositions that parents respond to and do not create."

Against the motion:

Paige Harden, psychology professor, University of Texas.
"...declaring DNA to be the only major systematic force in people’s lives isn’t only just scientifically inaccurate, but I think it’s potentially dangerous in its complacency..."

Ann Pleshette Murphy, author & parenting expert.
"...parental relationships are not static; they do evolve. They are complicated and idiosyncratic and unpredictable. But just because the effects of parenting are difficult to measure doesn’t mean that we should dismiss a child’s environment as random."

The Intelligence Squared debate is moderated by John Donvan.

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