Robin Gets Functionalist, As Predicted
By Bryan Caplan
After asking, “Why do parents forget what it’s like to be a kid?,” I remarked:
Many parents really do forget what’s it’s like to be a kid…
I honestly don’t know why. I bet Robin Hanson would have a clever functionalist story. Yet if you read the Wimpy Kid series – or just look around – it seems like it would be better for the whole family if parents thought more like kids.
Robin doesn’t disappoint me. From the comments:
So let’s see, parents could better understand their kids, and better
enjoy their kids’ company, if only they would let themselves think more
like kids do. Instead parents seem so eager to appear adultish that
they alienate their kids. How could parents possibly care so much about
what other adults think of them than they sacrifice their own kids
happiness? It is almost as if parents cared more about being respected
than having fun. How, how could this be?
The key problem I see with Robin’s functionalist account: It assumes that other parents care about your parenting far more than they actually do. In reality, most parents are too tired and preoccupied to worry if somebody else‘s parents aren’t “adultish” enough. As I never tire of saying, “We would worry a lot less about what other people thought about us if we knew how little they think about us at all.”
P.S. I can’t resist throwing the last sentence Robin wrote back in his face:
Maybe we might, you know, actually try something before we conclude it doesn’t work.