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Stranger in the Nest: Do Parents Really Shape Their Child's Personality, Intelligence, or Character? [Hardcover]

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Item Number 157016  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   312
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.26" Width: 6.29" Height: 1.07"
Weight:   1.3 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Feb 26, 1999
Publisher   Wiley
ISBN  0471319228  
EAN  9780471319221  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
For decades, millions of parents have been told that they are primarily responsible for things gone wrong with their children. Mothers and fathers have internalized this message, producing an unrealistic and damaging sense of guilt, and even betrayal. Parents do affect their children, but how much? Our children are not born as blank slates. They come to us encrypted with their own predilections, biases, strengths, and weaknesses, many of which are as beyond the control of parents as determining their child's gender or eye color. Here, for the first time, is a scientifically grounded examination of the controversial idea that nature--in the form of genetic blueprints--may have far more influence on how children develop than a particular style of parenting. Parents reeling from the idea that they don't have much impact on how their children think, feel, and behave, will find both surprise and comfort in psychologist David Cohen's riveting account of the importance, and limits, of inborn traits.

Dr. Cohen weaves together a rich tapestry of research in behavioral genetics to illustrate the degree to which biology, rather than parenting, can impact a child's personality, values, and aptitudes. Identical twins separated at birth are reunited in mid-life to discover that they both drive the same car, have held the same jobs, named their sons James, and married women with the same first name not once--but twice. Yet siblings reared together in the same family environment often grow up to have very different interests, abilities, and beliefs. The nurture correlation between good parenting and child development fails to explain how, of two children raised in a loving and supportive home, one grows up to be a pillar of the community, while the other becomes a drug abuser. Parents have been blamed for problems ranging from antisocial behavior to autism to schizophrenia--disorders which Dr. Cohen reveals have a strong genetic component. On the flip side, parents who weren't able to give their offspring a consistently safe and supportive home environment have happily taken the credit when their children grow up to be well-adjusted, hard-working members of society.

The truth of the matter is that, if sufficiently strong, inborn potentials can trump parental influence, no matter how positive or negative. Some traits manifest themselves in such unexpected and uncontrollable ways that, for better or for worse, one's child may indeed seem like a perfect stranger.

"Stranger in the Nest" puts a human face on the ages--old nature--nurture debate, providing a gripping, scientifically grounded examination of parental influence on children's development. Any parent who has ever questioned what he or she did wrong--or right--must read this book.

PRAISE FOR STRANGER IN THE NEST.....".rich with fascinating facts and excellent examples of how children develop more in obedience to their genetic steersman that to the influence of their parents. Scholarly, yet beautifully written and a joy to read." --David T. Lykken, University of Minnesota and author of Happiness For decades, ..". a book that turns its own pages. I could not put it down. Elegantly written, erudite, witty, informative, and bursting with new ideas, it challenges many of the core assumptions of modern psychology." --Thomas J. Bouchard, Jr., University of Minnesota.

"A delightfully written book filled with new insights about relations between parents and their children. Dr.] Cohen has a unique ability to blend new scientific findings with a writing style that deeply engages the reader. No one will come away thinking about families in the same way." --David M. Buss, University of Texas at Austin, -- and author of The Evolution of Desire.

"A scientific revolution has begun in our understanding of what makes us what we are. Genes matter more than anyone had thought... Sensitive, intelligent, and provocative, this book will challenge you to reexamine the way you think about yourself and your fellow human beings." --Steven Pinker, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and author of The Language Instinct and How the Mind Works.

"Required reading for all students of the art and science of parenting." --Allan Hobson, Harvard Medical School, and author of The Chemistry of Conscious States: How the Brain Changes its Mind.

Buy Stranger in the Nest: Do Parents Really Shape Their Child's Personality, Intelligence, or Character? by David B. Cohen from our Christian Books store - isbn: 9780471319221 & 0471319228

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More About David B. Cohen

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! DAVID B. COHEN, PhD, received his bachelor's degree from Columbia College, and trained as a psychologist at the University of Michigan. He is currently a professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. For the last two decades, he has researched the impact of biological factors on personality. He is the author of three previous books, including Out of the Blue: Depression and Human Nature.

David Cohen currently resides in the state of California.

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > Health, Mind & Body > Psychology & Counseling > Child Psychology > Development   [925  similar products]
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
You'll find yourself quoting him  May 22, 2004
"Stranger in the Nest" really has impact. I've been quoting it every day. Cohen makes a great case: we do not-and cannot control as much as we thought-and it's okay. Hell of a book! I'm still thinking about it. This book will really throw some heads.
Stranger in the Nest Review  May 22, 2004
As a teacher, I was struck by Cohen's ability to communicate highly technical research findings in a clear, vivid, and highly readable manner to an educated lay readership (the intended audience). As a scientist, I was deeply impressed by the rigor and intellectual honesty with which you approached the central issues at have. And as a parent, I was grateful for the opportunity to understand more fully the limits of my own influence over the personalities and characters of my two children.

The central theme of the manuscript obviously runs counter the most of the conventional wisdom about child rearing and its effects. But when one considers the heavy and unfair burden of responsibility that many parents have felt when their children have suffered from such maladies as autism, drug addiction, and sociopathy, it is high time that this conventional wisdom-with its almost complete absence of scientific foundation-must be challenged by responsible scientists.
This is a profoundly compassionate book. . . . I will recommend it enthusiastically to friends and colleagues who themselves have experienced similar family problems. In writing this book, which I know has been a labor of love, Cohen has performed a great service, both intellectually and morally.

Worth reading for developmental psychology  Jan 17, 2003
The distinctive point in this book is that the "somewhat chancy interactive effects of nature and nurture are surprisingly perverse." This is a crucial point for the so-called 'nature-nurture' debate. There is a lot yet to be understood about gene-environment developmental transactions. This book is worth reading as a step along the way.
Shoddy prose and poor organization  Dec 9, 2002
In Stranger in the Nest, David Cohen skeptically examines the role of parents in shaping their childrens' lives. The book is loaded with examples from dozens of studies of twins, adoptions, and family life. Cohen concludes that children are shaped by their genetic endowment more than their parents' style of rearing.

Although he does an excellent job of highlighting the confounds, difficulties, and overgeneralizations from many areas of psychological research, his contribution to the field is neither novel nor particularly readable. Cohen points out that correlations between parental behavior and child behavior are confounded by their relatedness, and in so doing illustrates the fundamental problems with research in this area. He returns again and again to relatedness, or genetics, as the answer to why children resemble their parents.

In this regard, Cohen was beaten to the punch by Judith Rich Harris' book, The Nurture Assumption. The Nurture Assumption is a much better book than Stranger in the Nest, in part because it covers both the child's peer environment, his home environment, and his genetic endowment all at the same time and in greater depth than Cohen does. Cohen's book is also defective in that it presents no organizing hypothesis or overarching framework: it is a series of detached anecdotes and synopses of various studies, interspersed too liberally with rhetorical questions.

I agree with Cohen's thesis that genetics matters more to childhood outcomes that we usually acknowledge, and often more than parental nurturance. I found the author's style too dense and punchy, skipping from point to point and not analyzing each major aspect of parenting in sufficient depth.

Those interested in this book would find essentially the same argument and a lot more from Judith Rich Harris, and a more enjoyable and better organized book, to boot.

Understand Your Adopted Sibling  Nov 17, 2001
This books gave me a better understanding of my adopted sister. It is a must read for those touched in any way by adoption.

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