I was quite fortunate to attend Greg Wilson's excellent talk on software development called Bits of Evidence at the Toronto StackOverflow Dev Days last fall. The premise of his talk was that as programmers we tend to hold certain "truths" as self-evident, when there is actual scientific data that refutes those ideas.
In the presentation, Greg explains that it wasn't until 1992 that we even had the idea of Evidence Based Medicine. That is, using the results of scientific studies to make medical decisions. Today, the idea that we would do anything else seems ludicrous.
As a parent, I look around at all the "parenting methodologies":
...and I think they're all interesting ideas worth exploring, but for some reason we aren't saying, "do we have any evidence that show they actually work?" To me, they all seem to smack of marketing, and call me weird, but I don't think parenting methodologies should be a popularity contest.
So I wondered, could there possibly be something along the lines of "Evidence Based Parenting"? It turns out I didn't coin the term. I recently read an excerpt from NurtureShock and was surprised that they backed up the claims with data. Fans of this website will not be surprised that I found this to be refreshing, to say the least! :-) I was most impressed by ceejayoz's answer about SIDS and the Back To Sleep Campaign. This is the kind of information that makes me more confident in my choices as a parent.
So I want to know more. Does anyone have any experience with Evidence Based Parenting, and can you recommend any good resources?
Doing some more investigation, I was really impressed by the site www.parentingscience.com. In an email exchange, the site's author, Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., said:
There is an excellent page on the scientific research related to attachment parenting.
There is also a page with links to other Evidence Based Parenting sites.
answered 13 Jan '10, 00:48
I've read most of the two books you linked that were put out by the Sears family of doctors, Attachment Parenting and The Vaccine Book. Both books discuss the evidence for and against the recommendations they make. In the case of Attachment Parenting, by the husband and wife William and Martha Sears (a pediatrician and a nurse, respectively), they give mostly anecdotal evidence for their methods based on their own large family and on the experiences of their patients who used the same methods. Their son, Bob Sears, is the author of The Vaccine Book, and he claims to have read just about every journal article and research study on vaccines, and he references many articles in the book, so I feel like there is plenty of research behind the book. He also readily acknowledges that, despite all of the research he has done, there is not enough evidence to conclude that vaccines are inherently dangerous, but also not enough research to ensure that all vaccines are necessary or necessarily safe. I also read the first chapter of Nutureshock and, like you, I was pleased to see its use of peer reviewed studies for making recommendations on parenting. Another favorite science-based parenting book of mine that I've recommended on Moms4Moms before is Bright From The Start.
It would be great if all the research had been done to figure out the best way to raise a child. I think the problem lies in the fact that researchers have only just begun to study child rearing in the past few decades (starting in the 1960s, but not really being effective until the 1980s), as well as the fact that all children are different, and what works for some, even what works for most, won't work for all. The best course of action, in my mind, for parents to take is to be as informed as they can, so that they can then make informed decisions. Read books, review the evidence, talk to other parents, talk to your own parents, then do what you think is best for your child.
answered 06 Jan '10, 15:50