The Economist As Parent

Dave Killion — November 19, 2012

Being a political philosophy, libertarianism doesn’t seem to offer much in the way of guidance regarding parenting. However, libertarianism and economics often go hand-in-hand, and in that spirit economist-and-mother-of-five Gertrude Fremling offers you “An economist’s seven rules for raising kids.” Here’s a taste –

“Rule 1: Limit Their Options – We don’t offer a weekly allowance. If our kids want anything beyond basics, they have to earn the money. Make sure to set firm limits on TV watching and keep just one small-screen TV in the house (which discourages the adults from watching, too). And impose tight restrictions on silly video/computer games.”

“Rule 7: Justice: You Do Bad things, You Suffer in the Pocket Book  – Most families seem to practice “time-out” as punishment. But that requires considerable monitoring and fails to give restitution to the victim. And holding long moral lectures is boring, both for the parent and the child.

Imposing fines instead worked very well. Most cases were trivial and routine. Such a minor offense as saying “bad words” resulted in a quick judgement of a small fine to the household.”

I can only guess how well any of this works. For all we know, Fremling’s offspring are the worst-behaved beasts on the planet. But if my kids were still children, I’d sure like to give this system a try.

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