The Power of Their Peers

A book argues that parents have little influence. Provocative. But true?

Psychologists can call off their century-long search for the key to rearing a good child--not because they've found it but because it doesn't exist. At least, that is the thesis of a soon-to-be-published, destined-for-controversy book, The Nurture Assumption (Free Press; 480 pages). Its author, Judith Rich Harris, states baldly that parents do not have "any important long-term effects on the development of their child's personality."

Harris is not saying that the genetic lottery sets a child's destiny. Around half of the difference in personality among kids, she notes, is unaccounted for by genetics. Rather, she is saying that the crucial environmental...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!