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You have come across a very interesting cultural phenomena. Our leaders (and their advisors) have probably been raised as "whimps" and turned their inbred paranoia into a "nanny state" atmosphere that erodes rights and freedoms over time. Unlike our founding fathers or even more recent generations we have become a bunch of "whimps" willing to give up our rights for the slightest bit of promised security (financial or otherwise), thus apathy sets in. The first step in solving an illness is diagnosing and or recognising it. So, we have effectively brought to light the possible problem and now we must further analyze and then begin treatment ASAP. I am under the impression that we must elect an Austrian economist or a student of said school to the Presidency or our economy might never be righted.

I really don't care so much for the analogies (though "bailout" does have a lot of meaning when kids blow money and keep coming back for more).

Any, Kenneth Boulding said it best, and it's something we've done a little at the margin:

Raise your kids using the principle of Creative Neglect.

Shameless plug: In the below post I discuss the economics of potty training.

http://consultingbyrpm.com/blog/2008/09/economics-of-potty-training.html

Let me say this: my wife and I have been changing diapers for SIXTEEN AND A HALF years.

Four kids, some of them late to potty train (esp. our youngest with Down Syndrome) so, outside a couple months off here and there, SIXTEEN YEARS.

When I mention that to my students I have to add, "No, we don't have a sixteen year old still in diapers."

Anyway, Boulding applies here, too:

He said "No wonder Marx always talked about alienation: the child's first achievement on the toilet gets flushed down the drain."

The great day of parental freedom is when the diaper bag gets put away for good.

Of course, now we have a puppy...

And this whole conversation would be prohibited under the Boettke Blog Enforcement Code. ;)

To what extent is the rise in over-protective-parenting correlated with a general rise in wealth?

To what extent are we subsidizing certain kinds of risk and penalizing others? We seem to be intent on reducing the risk of risky capital investments (homes, colleges) while at the same time making it more difficult to start small businesses.

To what extent are changes in parenting styles related to possible changes in the reasons people have children.

I'd argue that in less wealthy societies, children were looked at as investments who could provide for the parents when they were old or infirm.

in modern societies, children seem to be more like expensive consumer goods.

I think that's exactly right Mike - kids are much more about the *parents'* wants and needs for self-actualization, rather than about the kids per se.

Bravo!This is (literally) the 700 billion dollar question.The answer is yes (there is a connection)! I am a child psychologist, in my just released book, Freeing Your Child from Negative Thinking: Powerful, Practical Strategies to Build a Lifetime of Resilience, Flexibility and Happiness, I devote an entire chapter to the subject of failure, losing and disappointment because kids don't know how to cope with it, and parents are often afraid to let them.

We have an opportunity with the economic crash to learn something from the failures, but I fear that instead the government is "overparenting"-- kissing the banks on the head and saying everything is fine. We are missing the opportunity to show our kids that plans fail and we can rebuild with a different model that works better.... instead we will pass on the bill for this to our children....

To look at an excerpt, the interested reader can check out
www.freeingyourchild.com

Great Post!

"Is there a relationship between changes in parenting along these lines and our increasing tolerance for bailing out failed companies?"

I am confident that there is a positive relationship between the two. How will you attempt to answer these questions? I am looking forward to your answers to these questions.

I'm not sure I'm going to try to answer THAT specific question Brian, although I certainly will raise it. It would be an interesting question for a separate longer-term project though... maybe even for a sociologist. ;)

Teaching them to hunt with a bow will be very handy in a few years . . . Just fish with them for fun.

I recently became interested in Austrian economics, because I share some key perspectives. And, as a non-academic, I feel more comfortable with its literary style.

I agree with the post. I (and other Koreans) have admired American parents' raising children to become independent. But maybe it is changing? More broadly, I think that the more people are entrepreneurial, the better free market works.

Let's say there is no school in a small town. In an entrepreneurial culture, it is likely that someone take this as an opportunity and build a school (or something that can work as a school like e-learning). But when people are not entrepreneurial, they may view this only as a problem and ask the government to address it.

It may be wiser for free-market advocates to speak to normal people about entrepreneurship (in an easy and entertaining way), rather than against anti-market opinion leaders. The free market should not look like an anti-anti-market philosophy.

I am researching along these lines although more narrowly focused on home schooling. My research shows that home school parents are very entreprenuerial and their kids tend to be so as well. How that all plays into this discussion may or may not be interesting but I believe I definitely see something in the way kids are brought up and their willingness to be explorers, innovators and risk takers.

A few thoughts - the influence standing behind Bowlby was Ian D Suttie who tragically died in 1935 as his first book was coming off the press. His premature death was one of the great intellectual disasters of modern times because, with Karl and Charlotte Buhler he had the ideas to challenge the dominance of Freud and the behaviorists, both at the level of testable theories and at the level of metapsychology. Buhler's career effectively ended in his prime when the Nazis drove him out of Vienna in 1938. For Suttie the critical transition in life was becoming independent of the mother and the transition has to be just right, not forced (giving the impression of rejection) nor delayed (suffocating).

A thumbnail on Suttie. http://www.the-rathouse.com/Revivalist4/Suttie_FAQ.html

On child-raising for independence and achievement, McClelland of "The Achieving Society" suggested that children need to be given appropriately challenging tasks and responsibilities, with the right mix of support and encouragement so they learn how to win and lose, to succeed and fail. The same message comes from the Coveys (Habits of Effective People etc), jobs to be done with accountability. Check out Maslow on "self-actualizing" people as well.

McClelland claimed that you can predict surges of enterprise if you check out the contents of childrens books a few decades before. Kids who read books about heroes and achievement will tend to get the message. A lady in the US, Jennifer Bouani, is deliberately writing books about entrepreneurs for children (heads up from the Mises list).
http://www.boujepublishing.com/author.htm

My spouse and the Rathouse webmistress also does childrens books, lately "Two Tough Teddies" and "Two Bad Teddies". http://www.kilmenyniland.com/illustration/TwoToughTeddies.html

Next, "Two Entrepreneurial Teddies" but the publishers lean to political correctness so it might not be accepted.

Is anyone familiar with Mac Bledsoe (yes, Drew's father)? He's a fomer teacher who created a program called "Parenting with Dignity."

Supposedly, it aims at teaching parents to let their children make their own decisions, and bear the consequences, from an early age.

John Stossel did a piece on the program years ago on 20/20, and I was really impressed. Bledsoe is, I think, an evangelical Christian, but I didn't notice anything explcitily evangelical about the program.

Read "The Nurture Assumption" by Judith Harris.

This is an interesting concept. However, I don't think parenting has much to do with entrepreneurship at all. When Buffett was combing Europe for family owned businesses a year or so ago I heard on the radio that family owned businesses rarely last more than couple of generations. Being an entrepreneur seems to be a personality trait. In fact, I think that the act of entrepreneurship is somewhat rebellious in itself.

One of the things that I've noticed as a professional in a creative service field is that my success depends on my ability to deliver creative and innovative ideas for my clients. As a result, I'm constantly searching for new techniques, insights, etc... that will help me achieve this.

As a parent of a five year old daughter, it is obvious to me that she has those skills "built-in." I assume I did as well when I was younger. Now, later in life, I'm finding that re-discovering those skills is paramount to my ability to remain competitive in the job market.

So, as a parent, I'm struggling with the question of how to raise my kids in a way that their creativity and curiosity is intact when my job as a parent is complete. Tough question, but I think critical for parents of the latest generations.

Central to this, and why I find your post so interesting, is that embracing failure is critical to generating new ideas. To have a few good ideas requires many, many, many more that go into the garbage can. Those unwilling to fail will limit themselves from generating new ideas to begin with. Further, those who learn to accept, learn, and grow from failure will have the best chance of succeeding.

I don't think there are any easy answers here. My instincts as a parent go directly against what may best serve my kids. As a parent, I need to re-wire my brain and develop some new tactics for raising my kids in a manner that will serve them best as adults in a global marketplace.

I'm going to continue thinking about these ideas and post a thought or two at my blog:

http://www.thepursuitoftinkering.com

One of the things that I've noticed as a professional in a creative service field is that my success depends on my ability to deliver creative and innovative ideas for my clients. As a result, I'm constantly searching for new techniques, insights, etc... that will help me achieve this.

As a parent of a five year old daughter, it is obvious to me that she has those skills "built-in." I assume I did as well when I was younger. Now, later in life, I'm finding that re-discovering those skills is paramount to my ability to remain competitive in the job market.

So, as a parent, I'm struggling with the question of how to raise my kids in a way that their creativity and curiosity is intact when my job as a parent is complete. Tough question, but I think critical for parents of the latest generations.

Central to this, and why I find your post so interesting, is that embracing failure is critical to generating new ideas. To have a few good ideas requires many, many, many more that go into the garbage can. Those unwilling to fail will limit themselves from generating new ideas to begin with. Further, those who learn to accept, learn, and grow from failure will have the best chance of succeeding.

I don't think there are any easy answers here. My instincts as a parent go directly against what may best serve my kids. As a parent, I need to re-wire my brain and develop some new tactics for raising my kids in a manner that will serve them best as adults in a global marketplace.

I'm going to continue thinking about these ideas and post a thought or two at my blog:

http://www.thepursuitoftinkering.com

Good points. I also recommend www.loveandlogic.com for pro-freedom minded parents.

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