Cognitive-behavior therapist and clinical psychologist
University of Manchester, U.K.
When I began reading “What Makes a Good Parent?” by Robert Epstein, I expected to find an intelligent discussion of high-quality research into an incredibly important topic. Instead I encountered an article littered with underqualified claims.
First, the study relies solely on convenience sampling and self-reporting, which is much less rigorous than many studies in this area. Even more disturbing was the lack of effort to qualify the findings in light of the methodological limitations. For instance, the outcome variable of children’s happiness should be referred to as “parents’ perceptions of children’s happiness” because of the lack of verification of happiness with the children themselves.
In light of these flaws, I found it was, at the least, inappropriate and, at the most, dangerous, to report the results with such authority. This article was certainly not up to the high standards for inclusion I have come to expect from Scientific American Mind.
Regan Clark Foust
I found “What Makes a Good Parent?” very alarming! Epstein writes in his top-10 list of good parenting that number nine is religion, without citing any real scientific data to back it up. I was appalled by this assertion because religion is directly undermining science education and acceptance in America today. I have to question the author’s motives—he seems to be projecting his own belief system into this article.
EPSTEIN RESPONDS: Some of the experts who evaluated the parenting test when we were developing it also objected to our inclusion of the “religion and spirituality” category. We had to include it, however, because legitimate studies exist that show that children who are raised in an environment of religion or spirituality flourish in various ways. Bear in mind that it is not necessary for an individual to be adept in all 10 areas to be a good parent overall.
THIS DREAM SMELLS
Will someone please let Christof Koch know that some of us can and do smell in our dreams?
The very night after I read his article, “Dream States” [Consciousness Redux], I dreamed I was escaping from pursuers through an unfamiliar house of cramped rooms. Passing through a door, I found myself looking down into a pair of green-and-white tiled bathrooms with wooden floors, two white toilets, and an unpleasant smell of, well, excrement.
When I woke in the middle of the night, I could distinctly remember the bathroom and the smell, and I could do so still well into the next day.
IN DEFENSE OF “AUTISTIC”
Reader Greg O’Brien [“People with Autism,” Letters] needs to calm down a bit.
To assert that a term such as “autistic toddlers” is disrespectful is the height of absurdity. This is a simple description, perfectly valid in the English language: adjective, noun. Is it similarly disrespectful to refer to “tall children?” Must we refer to them as “children with tallness?” Let’s contact the DAV (Disabled American Veterans) to let them know that they are disrespecting themselves. They should change the name of their organization to “American Veterans with Disabilities.” Oh, wait. We can’t refer to them as “American Veterans.” No, it would have to be “Veterans Who Are American and Have Disabilities.” Yes, that sounds much more respectful.