Lessons from the longest study on human development
Recommended by Sara DeWitt
Helen Pearson's talk, "Lessons from the longest study on human development," is what I call a sneaker talk. I thought it was going to be about good parenting, and that was already motivating. Every parent I know is simultaneously stressed and reassured by the overabundance of parenting literature out there. The idea of parenting advice based on the longest study of human development -- 70 years worth of science -- was thrilling. Now I'll find the answer to becoming a better parent!
The sneaker is this: the talk isn't really about parenting. It's about the oversize role economic status plays in each person's development. Midway through watching Helen speak, my silly idea about a magic parenting solution was struck down by the stark truth of the data. While there are some best practices all parents can employ to help improve their child's health and success over time, like reading to kids every day, those practices can only shrink the success gaps between the rich and poor children, certainly not eliminate them. Helen's talk pulled me out of my self-focus, to think beyond my own children to all children.
This is the kind of reminder we all need sometimes when we're head-down in the marathon of balancing work and home life. Of course, we need to pay attention to our own kids, but the science is clear: if we want to help children achieve their potential to improve the health of our society overall, we must tackle the issue of child poverty. My hope is that Helen's talk will jolt us to start a new parenting conversation. How are we going to respond to this data?