Educated parents have smarter kids

Filed under: Work Life, In The News, Day Care & Education, Single Parenting

Teenage momA new study of 15,000 British families indicates that delaying parenthood to pursue higher education and a career may decrease the chances of having children with health and learning issues, while the offspring of young, poverty-stricken moms are more likely to suffer from problems of all kinds.

Children of uneducated parents have poor vocabularies, and by the age of five, boys who live in poverty are about two months behind their female classmates, a gap which apparently increases with each school year.

However, kids of well-educated, working parents over the age of 30 display higher cognitive abilities, and many have fewer behavior problems, according to the Millennium Cohort Study.

No kidding. I would never have figured that one out on my own.

Poor kids -- and in the UK, three out of every 10 kids reach the age of 5 living in poverty -- also have more general health problems, including obesity, but are less likely to suffer from bed-wetting.

The study, a snapshot of modern families in the 21st century, also reveals that mothers under the age of 30 are more likely to yell at their child, and that 50 percent of that same group have suffered from depression.

Hmm, let's see -- I'm under 30, living in poverty with no father figure in the household, and I have overweight kids with behavioral issues. Gee, I wonder why I might be depressed?

Oh, wait! They don't wet the bed! What am I so upset about?

This study, while fascinating in many ways (for instance, 69 percent of fathers say they are good dads, as opposed to 60 percent of moms who are equally confident in their abilities), shows mostly sad and familiar facts. Poor kids don't get read to as often, watch too much TV and get hit a lot.

The data may be specific to the UK, but my guess is that you'd find similar results if you sampled American families, especially now, as the economy continues to tank and more and more families face serious financial pressures.

I should be a statistic -- my parents married under the age of 20, and my mom never went to college. My dad got an engineering degree on full scholarship, graduating when I was two years old. They were married for 34 years. My widowed mom, while not formally educated, is a well-read, curious and sophisticated woman who would be a match for any man with a string of letters after his name.

And my two siblings and I all have college degrees.

I wish I was the rule, not the exception. What about you? Did you pull yourself up by your bootstraps or did you have a proverbial silver spoon?

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.