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Farewell, Judith Rich Harris

Sad news:

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I discovered her when a reader of this blog recommended her bestselling book The Nurture Assumption: Why Children Turn Out The Way They Do [4] to me when I was writing The Benedict Option. [5] The reader said the book would help me understand why it is so important for Ben Op families to find each other. It’s a powerful book; no wonder scientists like Steven Pinker praised it to the skies. Here’s what I said about it in The Benedict Option [5]:

Peer pressure really begins to happen in middle childhood. Psychology researcher Judith Rich Harris, in her classic book The Nurture Assumption, says that kids at that age model their own behavior around their peer group’s. Writes Harris, “The new behaviors become habitual—internalized, if you will—and eventually become part of the public personality. The public personality is the one that a child adopts when he or she is not at home. It is the one that will develop into the adult personality.”

Harris points to the example of immigrants and their children. Study after study shows that no matter how strong the home culture, first-generation offspring almost always conform to the values of the broader culture. “The old culture is lost in a single generation,” she writes. “Cultures are not passed on from parents to children; the children of immigrant parents adopt the culture of their peers.”

On the other hand, says Harris, is that in most cases, it’s not too late for kids who have been exposed to bad influences. Researchers find that damage to a child’s moral core can be repaired if he is taken away from a bad peer group. What’s more, determined parents who run a disciplined home, and who immerse their children in a good peer group, can lay a good foundation, no matter how lax they have been until now.

The bad news about the fragility of culture is also good news, according to Harris: “Cultures can be changed, or formed from scratch, in a single generation.”

From the Education chapter:

A reader of my blog said she sees the same sort of thing watching her daughter navigate from junior high to high school. “There’s nothing like having your twelve-year-old come home from school and start ticking off which of her classmates are bi,” the reader said. “I told my daughter it was statistically impossible for there to be that many bisexual students in her class, and that for most girls—and they were all girls—seventh grade was entirely too early to make pronouncements on their sexuality. In return, I got a lot of babble about gender being fluid and nonbinary.”

The reader called a friend with a daughter in the same class and asked her what was going on. “‘Where have you been?” she laughed. “‘At least a third of these girls are calling themselves bi.’”

Few parents have the presence of mind and strength of character to do what’s necessary to protect their children from forms of disordered sexuality accepted by mainstream American youth culture. For one thing, the power of media to set the terms of what’s considered normal is immense, and it affects adults as well as children. For another, parents are just as susceptible to peer pressure as their children are.

“People rear their children the way their friends and neighbors are doing it, not the way their parents did it,” says psychology researcher Judith Rich Harris, “and this is true not only in media-ridden societies like our own.”

Here’s a link to Malcolm Gladwell’s New Yorker piece on the book. [6] It’s well worth reading if you want to grasp Harris’s insights and argument. Excerpts:

Not long ago, Anne-Marie Ambert, a sociologist at York University, in Ontario, asked her students to write short autobiographies describing, among other things, the events in their lives which made them most unhappy. Nine per cent identified something that their parents had done, while more than a third pointed to the way they had been treated by peers. Ambert concluded:

There is far more negative treatment by peers than by parents…. In these autobiographies, one reads accounts of students who had been happy and well adjusted, but quite rapidly began deteriorating psychologically, sometimes to the point of becoming physically ill and incompetent in school, after experiences such as being rejected by peers, excluded, talked about, racially discriminated against, laughed at, bullied, sexually harassed, taunted, chased or beaten.

This is Harris’s argument in a nutshell: that whatever our parents do to us is overshadowed, in the long run, by what our peers do to us. In “The Nurture Assumption,”Harris pulls together an extraordinary range of studies and observations to support this idea. Here, for example, is Harris on delinquency. First, she cites a study of juvenile delinquency–vandalism, theft, assault, weapons possession, and so on–among five hundred elementary-school and middle-school boys in Pittsburgh. The study found that African-American boys, many of them from poor, single-parent, “high-risk” families, committed far more delinquent acts than the white kids. That much isn’t surprising. But when the researchers divided up the black boys by neighborhood the effect of coming from a putatively high-risk family disappeared. Black kids who didn’t live in the poorest, underclass neighborhoods–even if they were from poor, single-parent families–were no more delinquent than their white, mostly middle-class peers. At the same time, Harris cites another large study–one that compared the behavior of poor inner-city kids from intact families to the behavior of those living only with their mothers. You’d assume that a child is always better off in a two-parent home, but the research doesn’t bear that out. “Adolescent males in this sample who lived in single-mother households did not differ from youth living in other family constellations in their alcohol and substance use, delinquency, school dropout, or psychological distress,” the study concluded. A child is better off, in other words, living in a troubled family in a good neighborhood than living in a good family in a troubled neighborhood. Peers trump parents.

Gladwell explains that Harris’s insights came in part from raising her two daughters — one the biological child of her and her husband, the other adopted. They were raised in the same household, but turned out very differently. Nomi, the biological daughter, was studious and high-achieving, the other one, Elaine, was not. Here’s Gladwell:

There are a hundred ways of explaining Nomi and Elaine, and there is, of course, something very convenient about the explanation that Harris arrived at: it’s the kind of thing that the mother of a difficult child wants to believe. Harris has constructed a theory that lets herself off the hook for her daughter’s troubled childhood. It should be said, though, that the idea that parents can control the destiny of their children by doing all the right things–by providing children with every lesson and every experience, by buying them the right toys and saying the right words and never spanking or publicly scolding them–is just as self-serving. At least, Harris’s theory calls for neighborhoods, peers, and children themselves to share the blame–and the credit–for how children turn out. The nurture assumption, by contrast, places the blame and the credit squarely on the parent, and has made it possible to demonize all those who fail to measure up to the strictest standards of supposedly optimal parenting.

You can take that insight too far, of course. Again, she’s not saying that parents, and parenting styles, don’t matter at all; rather, she’s saying that in most cases, they matter less than we think. And they matter in ways that are not always obvious to us. For example, last week we had a big discussion here about kids who are addicted to Fortnite [7], and parents who don’t know what to do about it. Judith Rich Harris would tell those parents that unless they get together and shut down their kids’ access to Fortnite, they’re not going to do much good. The peer culture in which their boys are embedded is far more powerful than their home culture. If the parents want to change the peer culture, they have to figure out a way to get together and do it.

The Nurture Assumption explains why it makes total sense for parents to sacrifice to get their kids into good schools — defining “good” as schools with peer groups that embody pro-social virtues and characteristics. And, come to think of it, it helps explains why the insane rate of rapid-onset gender dysphoria manifesting itself in middle schools and high schools is heavily down to social contagion among peer groups. In fact, if you interpret the book in terms of cultural politics, you will run hard up against a number of left-liberal orthodoxies. As Steve Sailer said in his 1998 review: [8]

Although she tends to tiptoe around the political implications, her analysis of how young people naturally form peer groups that define themselves by excluding others explains why multicultural education, bilingualism, college-admission quotas, busing, and co-ed boot camps perversely worsen race and sex conflicts.

In fact, read the Gladwell piece [6], and think about its account of the three little girls on the playground, and contemplate what it reveals about social psychology and the unwisdom of having immigration at a rate faster than can be naturally assimilated. It has nothing to do with race and ethnicity; it’s all about human nature, and how all of us learn to live together in peace. Or fail to. As Sailer avers, it sheds light on why liberalism’s “diversity” do-goodery often makes the problem worse.

I’m not sure that Judith Rich Harris would have been willing to accept that, but she was aware that her work had at least some public policy implications. As she told Scientific American in a 2008 interview: [9]

I’ve put together a lot of evidence showing that children learn at home how to behave at home (that’s where parents do have power!), and they learn outside the home how to behave outside the home. So if you want to improve the way children behave in school—for instance, by making them more diligent and less disruptive in the classroom—then improving their home environment is not the way to do it. What you need is a school-based intervention. That’s where teachers have power. A talented teacher can influence a whole group of kids.

The teacher’s biggest challenge is to keep this group of kids from splitting up into two opposing factions: one pro-school and pro-learning, the other anti-school and anti-learning. When that happens, the differences between the groups widen: the pro-school group does well, but the anti-school group falls further and further behind. A classroom with 40 kids is more likely to split up into opposing groups than one with 20, which may explain why students tend to do better in smaller classes. But regardless of class size, some teachers have a knack for keeping their classrooms united. Teachers in Asian countries seem to be better at this than Americans, and I suspect this is one of the reasons why Asian kids learn more in school. No doubt there’s a difference in cultures, but maybe we could study how they do it and apply their methods here.

The tendency of kids to split up spontaneously into subgroups also explains the uneven success rate of programs that put children from disadvantaged homes into private or parochial schools. The success of these programs hinges on numbers. If a classroom contains one or two kids who come from a different background, they assimilate and take on the behaviors and attitudes of the others. But if there are five or six, they form a group of their own and retain the behaviors and attitudes they came in with.

One more clip, and I’ll stop. Here’s a lengthy 1999 interview she did with Edge.org. [10] Excerpt:

JB: So what do your observations of language tell us about the transmission of culture?

HARRIS: I think other aspects of a culture are transmitted the same way as language. In developed societies the parents start the process at home, so the kids come out of the house already knowing something. But whether they keep what they learned at home will depend on what they find when they get outside. And they don’t have to learn anything at home, and they’ll still be okay. There are many societies where the parents hardly talk to their babies at all, and the babies don’t learn the language until they graduate from their mothers’ arms into the local play group. They learn the language, and they learn how to behave, from the older children in the play group.

JB: So memes spread from one child to another, rather than from parent to child?

HARRIS: Not entirely, because anything that has an effect on the majority of kids in the peer group can affect the entire group. Even though parents may not have much influence as individuals, they can have a great deal of power if they get together. Hebrew used to be a dead language — a language used only for ceremonial purposes. A bunch of grownups got together and decided to make Hebrew the language of their new country, and they taught their kids to speak Hebrew. The kids found that their peers spoke Hebrew too, and Hebrew became their “native language,” even though it wasn’t the native language of their parents. It worked because the parents who decided to do it lived in one place and their children played together and went to school together. It wouldn’t work if only one family in a neighborhood decided to do it. So parents who want to have an influence on their kids should get together with other like-minded parents and send their kids to the same school. That’s the way the Amish do it, and the Hasidic Jews. In fact, it’s what middle-class parents do when they move to “nice” neighborhoods so their kids can go to “nice” schools.

Anyway, read the book. [4] It’s challenging, even unsettling — but in a constructive way.

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41 Comments To "Farewell, Judith Rich Harris"

#1 Comment By charles cosimano On December 30, 2018 @ 10:50 pm

All well and good, but what happened when the kids whose parents got weird about speaking Hebrew went out in the world and found that not only did no one speak Hebrew, it was not a lot of practical use? The Ghetto mentality, and that is what you are writing about here, only works in the Ghetto.

That is not how people choose to live. There is only going to be the kid whose parents give him the biggest allowance, the most toys, with no bedtime on vacation days and weekends and let him play Fortnite all he wants. He also gets the best grades in the class. In other words, sort of like me but we didn’t have Fortnite then. If we had, my father would have been playing it with me. We had comic books. I can also imagine my parents up after I had gone to bed laughing about much they were annoying the other parents and figuring out new ways to do it.

When I was a boy these notions of community were thrown around occasionally and the reaction of parents was, well, like waving a red flag in front the bull and not just my parents. The parents of my friends were the same way. “We are not going to limit our children because you happen to be a paranoid nutcase.”

And history proved those parents who sought control to be nutcases and were rightly ridiculed and ignored.

[NFR: She’s talking about the founding generation of Israelis. — RD]

#2 Comment By Joshua Xanadu On December 30, 2018 @ 11:05 pm

Thanks for highlighting Judith Rich Harris’ passing, and flagging her influential work. I’ll make one slight deviation from one of the quotes you cited: along with testing for most secondary schools, Asian schools also separate classes for high-achievers vs. “put to pasture” students, and the segregation is even worse because most East Asian high-schoolers take all their subjects with the same homeroom cohorts.

#3 Comment By Mark Tardiff On December 31, 2018 @ 12:22 am

I think it’s also a challenge to the Benedict Option. Sure, if you have a Ben Op community the peer influence will help form the children, but that won’t be lifelong unless they remain in that community. The only way to really build a continuity may be the Amish way. From what I understand, each Amish, upon reaching adulthood, is required to spend a period of time in the outside world, and then decide if he wants to continue in the Amish community. From what I’ve read, some 90% reject modern society and go back to live as Amish, but in the process all the attraction of the “forbidden fruit” is taken away, because they’ve seen what the world has to offer, and it’s not so great. So are Ben Op communities going to become generational, with children settling down near parents are at least in another Ben Op community? If they go off to a regular college and into the wider world, all that peer influence will come into play, and young adults in their 20s are still shaping their personalities. In that case, I would argue that one important element that could keep them from being swept up in liquid modernity is the ability to really think, to be able to analyze the assumptions underlying certain positions and the implications of those positions. A passion for the truth and a disciplined search for it can provide an individual with an anchor even in the midst of a cultural tsunami.

#4 Comment By Fran Macadam On December 31, 2018 @ 1:26 am

The obesity epidemic has also been found to be a social contagion.

The one thing I did absorb from my father, was his advice to question everything. He came to regret that. I’ve passed that on to our children, as I’ve discovered, successfully.

The way things have become so pervasively deceptive in our society, finding truth depends on that attitude more than ever, not mindlessly following either institutions or peers.

#5 Comment By Leftish On December 31, 2018 @ 1:58 am

The idea that a child’s peers and the broader society they live in has a stronger influence on there development then their parents due isn’t exactly a new one. Sociologists at the University of Chicago grew the same conclusions from studying immigrant groups in the city of Chicago itself almost a century ago.

#6 Comment By JonF On December 31, 2018 @ 8:03 am

Re: Sure, if you have a Ben Op community the peer influence will help form the children, but that won’t be lifelong unless they remain in that community.

Counter-example: the Mormons. They live in the same cuties, suburbs, rural areas as the rest of us and they are not isolated. But they manage to maintain their unique religious and ethical standards and even take in converts. No, not every Mormon kid stays with the LDS- even the Amish don’t keep all their kids in their path– but enough do that the LDS remains a going concern.

#7 Comment By KAM On December 31, 2018 @ 8:28 am

Lots of insight. Thanks so much for all your hard work in bringing this to us.

Growing up, I moved around a lot, and experienced some peer experiences in school that felt like hell. Having a good church youth group in a few situations was a lifeline.

#8 Comment By Windswept House On December 31, 2018 @ 9:13 am

What? I can no longer blame the ruler to knuckles nuns of my grade school years? Haha. It was such a convenient cliche. Dang. Now I have to scour my life on the playground and can no longer blame my mother. Just when I thought I had it all figured out. %

#9 Comment By Frances On December 31, 2018 @ 9:39 am

Joshua Xanadu:

Of course it has been 30 years since my daughter left Japanese elementary school at the age of 11 to return to the US, but in Japan the problem then was the pedagogical goal of keeping all the children at the same level. The class could not advance in a subject until all the children had mastered it. For example, second graders had to memorize 100 addition problems and reproduce them in two minutes. Every child in the class had to be able to do this, before going to the next stage. This approach could be very boring for bright students as no attempt is made to offer them stimulating materiel. But it is thorough.

But that is a digression from peer groups. I suspect that Japanese children have two peer groups: their classmates and “juku” classmates. In Japan many (most?) children around the age of 9 begin to attend after school schools or juku for 3 to 4 hours several times (everyday?) a week. Yes, these children get home at 8 or 9 pm. I have read that these classmates become an important peer group and that is one reason children want to attend juku.

#10 Comment By Lance On December 31, 2018 @ 10:01 am

pro-social? really?

It is a wonder people were able to reproduce at all, minus modern psychology, where they know everything, a) because they have letters after their names,…
and b) because they must be smart to have successfully experimented upon live human beings for over 100yrs and not one has gone to jail…..people you can TRUST.

Now, their textbooks may change….as have child rearing peer group fads…about every 10yrs. I am one of the survivors. And you wonder why the country destroyed, the same folk writing our “social justice”.

#11 Comment By O.L. Johnson On December 31, 2018 @ 10:05 am

One of the reasons that many parents decide to homeschool is to cut off bad socialization. Long term studies of homeschooled children into their adulthood would be interesting to see if the effects of peer groups, say once homeschoolers reach college, are diminished.

#12 Comment By Lance On December 31, 2018 @ 10:11 am

I think these were the same folk telling us how good large centralized schools would be for (there’s that word again) social skills and preparing for the workplace of tomorrow, back in the 50s and 60s.

#13 Comment By Elspeth On December 31, 2018 @ 10:16 am

I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed, and even I figured out that this was a reference to Israel.

charles cosimano is so utterly bent on discounting every concern you raise, Rod, that he doesn’t even pretend to pause and consider the long term, transcendent principles you want to instill as a parent.

It’s a very materialistic view; the idea that so long as one emerges financially sound, free of criminal behavior, and mostly normal looking than this is good enough to warrant embracing whatever filth the cultural tide washes up. Without a general agreement on the nature of the discussion, conversation becomes little more than babble with hints of condescension.

I was thinking however about his terminology, “ghetto mentality”, and while I am fairly certain he didn’t mean it as a racial term, having been raised adjacent to a culture that is often referred to as “ghetto” in the classic, racial sense, it is foolish to assert that ghetto mentality doesn’t have any implications on the world outside of that particular ghetto. This is particularly true in a world that insists on imposing cultural integration at the point of a gun, which I assume most here from the left agrees with in large measure.

Leftist thinking is fraught with inconsistency while sneering at those trying desperately to live and raise children with a coherent, natural and normal way of thinking and living. Our cultural trajectory is decidedly away from the normal, natural, and sane. Given the immense influence media has on the vast majority of young people, it is foolish to dismiss out offhand the ways these things imprint on our children or their children.

It seems Mrs. Rich Harris was doing important work that has not been given its due. May she rest in peace.

#14 Comment By Elijah On December 31, 2018 @ 10:31 am

“I think these were the same folk telling us how good large centralized schools would be for (there’s that word again) social skills and preparing for the workplace of tomorrow, back in the 50s and 60s.”

Good point. Pedagogical methods never seem to keep pace with change, or even try.

#15 Comment By json On December 31, 2018 @ 11:55 am

So, it really does take a village then?

Really great post. I was surprised to learn in my Intro to Psychology class just what you point out about how peers influence children alot sooner than we think.

Regarding the Ben Op . . . yeah I think you’re right, but the problem is that I don’t think Americans are used to thinking about the kind of “thick” community that a real Ben Op will require. We’re still too individualized and atomized and “it’s what occurs in the home” still has too much sway in conservative circles. Based on the comments I have read on this and previous posts, they require too much of the individual to navigate these things themselves and continue their fragmented lives: I go to church and have a Christian home, but everywhere else . . .? To implement the Ben Op right is going to be alot of heavy lifting because it’s more than just having a Christian home, church, K-12 schools, and higher ed. We have to have plenty of enclaves in all the professions (lawyers, teachers, social workers, doctors, farmers, little league coaches, etc.), healthcare institutions (real Catholic hospitals?), etc. It just seems like a lot of heavy lifting.

#16 Comment By charles cosimano On December 31, 2018 @ 12:02 pm

[NFR: She’s talking about the founding generation of Israelis. — RD]

Then that proves my point even more. Israeli society is anything but monolithic and kibbutzniks have changed a lot, really they have.

[NFR: No, it doesn’t prove your point. Her point is that the people who founded modern Israel resurrected a dead language by force of communal will. This is true. It doesn’t imply that they all share the same politics or religious commitments. — RD]

#17 Comment By no comment On December 31, 2018 @ 12:24 pm

>nothing to do with race and ethnicity

Nonsense. Of course race and ethnicity matter in addition to those other factors that you mentioned. You can’t just arbitrarily define race as not mattering; you have demonstrate through argument that it doesn’t matter, which far as I can tell you never do. Race and ethnicity are human traits, part of what makes us human, so it’s not clear what evidentiary basis there is for the claim those things don’t matter in a social contexts and peer groups.

#18 Comment By lancelot lamar On December 31, 2018 @ 1:00 pm

–“At the same time, Harris cites another large study–one that compared the behavior of poor inner-city kids from intact families to the behavior of those living only with their mothers. You’d assume that a child is always better off in a two-parent home, but the research doesn’t bear that out. “Adolescent males in this sample who lived in single-mother households did not differ from youth living in other family constellations in their alcohol and substance use, delinquency, school dropout, or psychological distress,” the study concluded. A child is better off, in other words, living in a troubled family in a good neighborhood than living in a good family in a troubled neighborhood. Peers trump parents.”

This kind of statement would need a “deep dive” into the study to see if it is true. I am very skeptical.

First, very few truly “intact families,” a father and mother in a stable marriage over time, are poor. It would be hard to find them in “poor inner-city” areas. The author’s use of phrases like “two parent home” and “other family constellations” makes me think the study’s authors are fudging by including homes with a mom and one of her live-in boyfriends, even if he may be the boy’s dad, or possibly a succession of them, as a “good family” or an “intact family,” or a “two-parent family,” not stable families with a father and mother and their own children, married over time.

Most other studies show the absence of the birth father married to the birth mother in the home to be the decisive factor correlating to delinquency and other pathological behavior by boys and young men. This does not discount the effect of peer groups, but is only to urge caution in examining some of her evidence and to weigh it carefully.

#19 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On December 31, 2018 @ 1:24 pm

Teachers in Asian countries seem to be better at this than Americans

On the other hand, an article about Milwaukee schools not to long ago quoted a student telling a reporter “You see those kids over there? They wouldn’t dare to that in Mrs. Robinson’s classroom.”

This mostly rings true, except for the part about how diversity promotes racism. IF everyone in the “diverse” setting promptly forms separate peer groups along racial lines, of course racism reigns. In fact, there is nothing “diverse” about it.

#20 Comment By Lance On December 31, 2018 @ 1:46 pm

Sorry, Rod, one more poke, need not even be published, buuuut….

That kids are vastly influenced by “who they hang out with” is news?

What decent parent has not understood this, and worked tirelessly the childhood/adolescent years to carefully chose playmates, schools/teachers, dates, suitors, etc, for untold generations?

#21 Comment By JonF On December 31, 2018 @ 2:53 pm

Re: First, very few truly “intact families,” a father and mother in a stable marriage over time, are poor.

I’d like to see your definition of “poor”– living in a shelter or on the streets? Because there certainly are married people with children who are low income enough to qualify for public assistance (food stamps etc.), and I would class that as “poor”. Marriage is no magic charm against job loss, disability etc.

#22 Comment By JWJ On December 31, 2018 @ 4:10 pm

To lancelot lamar at 12/31/18 at 1pm

Great comment.

#23 Comment By Elspeth On December 31, 2018 @ 4:14 pm

First, very few truly “intact families,” a father and mother in a stable marriage over time, are poor. It would be hard to find them in “poor inner-city” areas. The author’s use of phrases like “two parent home” and “other family constellations” makes me think the study’s authors are fudging by including homes with a mom and one of her live-in boyfriends, even if he may be the boy’s dad, or possibly a succession of them, as a “good family” or an “intact family,” or a “two-parent family,” not stable families with a father and mother and their own children, married over time.

Actually Lancelot, these families do exist in poor communities: Biological mother, father and kids who are their blood offspring. They are a distinct minority to be sure, but I know several and can attest that they exist. A lot of people are invested in the narrative that no intact families exist among certain demographics, but it’s not 100% true. And most are also pretty devout.

And they decidedly prove Mrs. Harris’ point. Almost all of the kids we know of those couples have taken on the mentality and behaviors of the surrounding culture, to the dismay of their parents.

It was this very tendency that my husband noted as a very young husband (21 years old) when he said, “We are NOT raising our kids in the communities we grew up in under any circumstances.” Even though we also both grew up in intact families, he saw the pattern and wanted more for his kids. He -through hard work, force of will, and deep faith made it happen.

We have a far better life socially, financially, and educationally than would be expected given where we started, and our kids do as well.

#24 Comment By JonF On December 31, 2018 @ 4:19 pm

Rod, It’s a mistake to refer to Hebrew as a dead language since it continued in use as the language of religion and scholarship among the Jews and all educated Jewish folk were fluent in it, much like Latin in the West in the Middle Ages. That’s a rather different proposition than resurrecting something like Gothic or Etruscan that no one except a few specialized linguists bothers with.

#25 Comment By Elspeth On December 31, 2018 @ 4:32 pm

I should add that neither mine or my husband’s families of origin were poor. We had everything we needed and then some. Our dads had stable jobs (mine hung off the back of a garbage truck for 29 years but also had a side business while saving and investing).

Our parents were also invested in the black community, living and serving in them. They were born during the depression and had a totally different social outlook than we did having been born in the 1970s.

So when the fallout of the war on poverty and the rise in illegitimacy and addiction increased in our neighborhoods, they stayed put.

And while there are fewer people with that mindset today, there are still a few such families, which is why they were able to quantified in Harris’ gathering of research.

#26 Comment By Ken’ichi On December 31, 2018 @ 5:11 pm

>>json

We have to have plenty of enclaves in all the professions (lawyers, teachers, social workers, doctors, farmers, little league coaches, etc.), healthcare institutions (real Catholic hospitals?), etc. It just seems like a lot of heavy lifting.

And what makes you think you will be allowed such “enclaves”? What happens when law schools and bar association start requiring “wokeness” and block “small-o orthodox” from practice of law? Same with med schools and AMA for doctors and “healthcare institutions.” Teachers: what about, like that teacher in Texas with “BDS”, when schools fire and refuse to hire BenOppers? And when private schools that do are shut down by government due to “not meeting state education requirements” or whatever? And social workers are government employees, yes? What makes you think they won’t purge any “enclave” of yours from their ranks. Farmers? Until they use carefully-tailored regulations, property taxes, lawsuits, eminent domain, etc. to make your farm unaffordable and force you to sell the land, or even just seize it?

#27 Comment By McCormick47 On December 31, 2018 @ 5:25 pm

Both the Hasidim and the Amish manage to control what peer group their children join by raising them in households speaking dialects of German. Hasidic boys spend most of the school day preparing for Torah study so their second language is Hebrew, and they often graduate high school reading English at an elementary school level.

It seems clear that if you want to limit your children to certain peer groups, you need to have fairly complete control of their schools.

#28 Comment By March Hare On December 31, 2018 @ 7:58 pm

There is, of course, a strong counter example to the Hebrew in Israel story, and that is the attempt to resurrect Gaelic in Ireland. As I understand it, it’s nowhere near as successful and the attempts to resurrect Native American languages by similar means haven’t turned out well, either.

It may take the Village People to raise a child, but that’s not sufficient.

[NFR: The Israelis were also facing existential pressure from the outside, unlike the Irish. I can imagine that was quite an inspiration. Plus, they needed a common language to unite Jews from all over the world moving to Israel. They had practical reasons for learning Hebrew that Gaelic speakers did not. For them, it wasn’t a hobby — it was a means of survival. — RD]

#29 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On December 31, 2018 @ 8:58 pm

It occurs to me that what the parents do in the first 5-7 years has A LOT to do with what sort of peers children have to hang out with. But its all the other parents who raise your children’s peers… and of course, the men at Madison Avenue and the culture vultures trying to issue the kids “your culture.”

This kind of statement would need a “deep dive” into the study to see if it is true. I am very skeptical.

I’m not, because I remember when my peers became more influential than my parents. I don’t really see that “stable two parent households” is the gold standard for this study. Rather, even children from households that LACK such stability are reported to do well IF they have a good peer group, and even children from households that HAVE such stability do poorly if they run with a bad peer group.

It might still be true that, if you simply compare children who lack stable two parent upbringing, across all socio-economic backgrounds, with children who have it, the latter do measurably better.

Different ways of slicing the pie can produce results which are each true. Then, looking at how they (no pun intended) intersect and overlap, becomes the next necessary step.

But they manage to maintain their unique religious and ethical standards and even take in converts.

Mormons in many areas exist in sufficient concentrations, and have sufficient social activities that they share in common throughout the week, to constitute a fairly substantial peer group among the children.

Race and ethnicity are human traits, part of what makes us human

You can’t just arbitrarily assert that race and ethnicity are part of what makes us human. You have to demonstrate through argument that they matter. (Given the way “race” has manifested itself in human history, you have to show that it matters objectively, rather than being a social construct. Thousands of people died on the altars of the Aztec gods, and those deaths were real damage, but do not prove that the Aztec gods actually existed.)

#30 Comment By JonF On January 1, 2019 @ 8:58 am

Re: They had practical reasons for learning Hebrew that Gaelic speakers did not. For them, it wasn’t a hobby — it was a means of survival.

They also had a language that almost all of them already learned as a written language beginning in childhood as a matter of course. So it was a short step from reading it to speaking it. Gaelic by contrast was the spoken tongue of some country yokels in the boondocks and there wasn’t even much agreement originally as to its written protocols.

#31 Comment By JonF On January 1, 2019 @ 9:04 am

Re: What happens when law schools and bar association start requiring “wokeness” and block “small-o orthodox” from practice of law?

How would they even know? Assuming you don’t go around ranting in the workplace about your religious or political beliefs, in most jobs there’s no way any of that comes to the fore. Consider what I do: technical analysis of residential mortgage fundings and payment flows. There’s just no intersection with “wokeness” there.

[NFR: Alas, Jon, you’re wrong. Justice Scalia, in is 2003 Lawrence dissent, wrote: “Today’s opinion is the product of a Court, which is the product of a law-profession culture, that has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda, by which I mean the agenda promoted by some homosexual activists directed at eliminating the moral opprobrium that has traditionally attached to homosexual conduct. I noted in an earlier opinion the fact that the American Association of Law Schools (to which any reputable law school must seek to belong) excludes from membership any school that refuses to ban from its job-interview facilities a law firm (no matter how small) that does not wish to hire as a prospective partner a person who openly engages in homosexual conduct.” That was 15 years ago! — RD]

#32 Comment By David J. White On January 1, 2019 @ 9:57 am

I’m not, because I remember when my peers became more influential than my parents.

I must have been a weird kid. I also remember when the influence of my peers began to challenge that of my parents—and I consciously chose to embrace my parents’ values and tastes over those of my peers. When my peers were listening to rock in the mid-70s, I was listening to Gilbert and Sullivan, Swing, and Vivaldi. It reached the point where I really took pride in, and embraced as part of my identity, rejecting my peers in favor of my parents and their generation.

A few things that encouraged this: I was neither athletically inclined nor very interested in sports, which automatically put me on the outs with most of the other boys my age; I liked school and got good grades, and I received far more validation for that from my parents than my peers; and I was fortunate in finding a few close friends who were similarly alienated from our peers. If you’re going to embrace being weird, it helps if you can find a few people willing to be weird with you. In effect I suppose we created our own anti-peer peer group.

I also suspect that my early, conscious rejection of my peers and embrace of my parents is a big part of why I’ve remained in my faith.

#33 Comment By benedicto On January 1, 2019 @ 11:23 am

Counter-example: the Mormons. They live in the same cuties, suburbs, rural areas as the rest of us and they are not isolated. But they manage to maintain their unique religious and ethical standards and even take in converts. No, not every Mormon kid stays with the LDS- even the Amish don’t keep all their kids in their path– but enough do that the LDS remains a going concern.

Actually, the Mormons are starting to see the same issues:

[11]

And even those who aren’t fully leaving Mormonism, a lot of them are accomodating themselves to the larger culture:

[11]

#34 Comment By Hound of Ulster On January 1, 2019 @ 12:15 pm

What these ideas show is that child-rearing can, and should be, a communal exercise, but that does not mean that individual parents can’t just shirk their obligations however. We will all hang separately if we do not hang together. Now, do you think a society of parents who both have to work in order to survive, where most families are one accident or misfortune away from bankruptcy court, where the carceral state makes even the most minor childhood infractions punishable with a lifetime of disenfranchisement, and which allows elites to extract wealth from society in exchange for literally no sacrifice whatsoever, is going to create the healthy peer groups necessary to raise healthy children into healthy adults? I very much doubt it.

I have met folks who were reasonably well-adjusted members of society who grew up in ‘broken homes’ of one sort or another, and I have meet folks who were utterly useless drains on society who grew up in loving, stable households. In the latter case, the parents were at a loss as to explain why the kid turned out the way they did.

I sense from some of the terms being used that some of the social conservatives here are actually defending their bourgeois ‘respectability’, and not what truely creates a healthy culture.

If Sailer could just let go of his racial mythology, he could be a truly great social critic.

#35 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On January 1, 2019 @ 1:55 pm

In effect I suppose we created our own anti-peer peer group.

Yup. I had one of those. We were actually a fairly large segment, and elected a student council president on the platform “We need a revolution.” (OK, not your anti-peer peer group). But we didn’t always agree with our parents either.

Alas, Rod, Justice Scalia helped to create the paradigm he warned against, by lumping all kinds of distinct issues into “the homosexual agenda.” His job, as a Supreme Court justice, was not to indulge in kulturkampf, but to dispassionately point out that private activity between consenting adults was indeed none of the business of the police, but that had nothing to do with, e.g., whether states had any constitutional duty to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple, and, whether gay advocacy organizations liked or disliked any given ruling was irrelevant, all that mattered was what the constitution mandates or restrains.

#36 Comment By benedicto On January 1, 2019 @ 2:01 pm

meant to post this one

[12]

#37 Comment By JonF On January 1, 2019 @ 3:28 pm

Benedict, the “Jack Mormon” phenomenon, where Mormons keep one foot in the LDS while not living according to all the rules, is an old one- the Millennials did not invent it. Back in the 80s, my older stepsister, who had converted in her teens, went through a period when she broke a lot of the rules while still going to church.

#38 Comment By JonF On January 1, 2019 @ 3:40 pm

Hi Rod,
This is a first, but it almost seems to be that you did not read my post to which you left a “NFR”. I was pointing out that most jobs do not have any interface with gay issues or other culture war issues, and I used my own job as an example. Yes, some of the mortgages that process through my reports were taken out by gay people, but so what? I have no way of knowing that except as a statistical likelihood and a mortgage is a mortgage– it is not a sex act. If there’s anything morally incorrect about it, it would be in the charging of interest though with the exception of Islam no religious body makes a fuss about that these days, so probably a devout Muslim would avoid a job in banking, but that’s far afield of any of these culture wars issues. Also, I probably have gay coworkers given the size of the office, but I don’t know of any so far– and if I did it would behoove me from considerations of basic courtesy to treat them professionally as I would hope others treat me. The firm does offer domestic partner benefits, which is extremely common, but again, what does that have to do with me? I understand that, yes, some people do have jobs where providing certain services becomes an issue– but that’s not most of us.

#39 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On January 1, 2019 @ 9:06 pm

a mortgage is a mortgage– it is not a sex act

This is precisely where the boundary falls between invidious discrimination and rational distinctions. There is no reason to discriminate against someone ‘because they are gay’ in any function they can perform just like the rest of us, like eating, cooking, applying for or executing a mortgage, moving into a home, gardening, etc. There is also no reason the state must take notice of, much less license, regulate or celebrate, two different acts in precisely the same manner.

A few weeks ago, I heard a former Martin Luther College professor recount how a Lutheran couple had come to their minister upset that a gay couple had moved in next door, asking how they could make clear that they disapproved. The answer they got was, they’re your neighbors. Welcome them to the neighborhood. Invite them over for coffee. Get to know them. This doesn’t mean that we condone what we don’t condone, but deal with them first as neighbors.

#40 Comment By Robert On January 3, 2019 @ 4:37 pm

Ken’ichi asks:

What happens when law schools and bar associations start requiring “wokeness” and block “small-o orthodox” from practice of law? Same with med schools and AMA for doctors and “healthcare institutions.” Teachers: what about, like that teacher in Texas with “BDS”, when schools fire and refuse to hire BenOppers? And when private schools that do are shut down by government due to “not meeting state education requirements” or whatever?

Well yes, exactly. One factor that I haven’t seen mentioned by any other readers in Rod Dreher’s article comboxes is the extreme – and I really do mean extreme – ease with which potential employers can check a job candidate’s Internet footprint.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve known the following situation to happen: Candidate X submits a job application to Employer Y; Employer Y is duly impressed by the résumé, but then does a Google search on Candidate X’s name. Said Google search reveals not only a hideous lack of wokeness on Candidate X’s part, but also Candidate X’s online record of having complimented Steve Sailer, Jared Taylor, or even – horror of horrors – The American Conservative.

Whereupon Candidate X’s once-promising résumé is tossed straight into the round filing cabinet. Despite or because of the fact that it gave no indication of how shockingly heteronormative, Eurocentric, transphobic, traditionalist-Christian, etc., etc., Candidate X is.

#41 Comment By JonF On January 5, 2019 @ 4:23 pm

Re: One factor that I haven’t seen mentioned by any other readers in Rod Dreher’s article comboxes is the extreme – and I really do mean extreme – ease with which potential employers can check a job candidate’s Internet footprint.

This assumes that you post things to the Internet under your own legal name– and even then many people may share a name with others. And here at least quite a few of us don’t use our full names, or any part of our name at all.
Facebook however does force people to use their real names. I keep my Facebook postings very G-rated and free of politics, in part for that reason, and in part because I have no desire to have or host flame wars with a fairly diverse group of friends.