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Voluntary Parent Tests - Dilbert Blog

Voluntary Parent Tests

Humorists have often pointed out that you need a license to go fishing but you don’t need a license to create a human being and ruin its life through bad parenting.

I can’t imagine my government requiring a license for parenting, no matter how sensible the idea sounds. To do so would be incompatible with basic freedom.

But what about a voluntary test for parents?

I think you would see immense social pressure for newlyweds to pass a voluntary parenting test whenever children are in the plan. At first the test would be a novelty and I imagine it would generate ridicule. But in time it could become the first question anyone asks when you announce your engagement. “Did you both pass the parenting test?”

The government could offer tax incentives for anyone who passes the parenting test. That would be a good investment for the country because better parenting is probably good for the economy in the long run.

Another thing I would like to see is kids writing reviews of their own parents. All you need is a Yelp-like service for reviewing parents, with a twist that the reviews are NOT public. Only approved professionals (doctors, therapists, teachers, other experts) would see the reviews. This allows experts to jump in with some useful parenting advice for both the kids and their parents. My healthcare provider, Kaiser Permanente, would be ideal for such a service. They’re big on preventative care.

And imagine Big Data someday helping you set child “consequence” levels. For example, if Big Data says taking away a teens phone for three days gets a good result but taking it away for a month just makes things worse, that would be good to know. And it would be easier for parents to defend a punishment as "fair” if Big Data supports it. A parent will still need to adjust his or her strategy for the personality of the child, but it is useful to have a starting point.

And here’s a suggestion for helping low-income kids get a leg up. Imagine a law that says any child born into a household below a certain income level can be voluntarily matched up with two mentors from high income families. And let’s imagine there is an online service for making those matches. And one can imagine the government offering tax incentives for folks who are part of a successful mentoring arrangement.

The future of parenting, I hope, is voluntary parenting tests, Yelp-like reviews of parents (non-public, to invite professional intervention), Big Data to guide parenting strategy, and a voluntary mentoring program for low-income kids that is supported by tax incentives.

Would any of those ideas work?

——— In other news ————

Cyborg rats with brain implants are here! But let’s not make cyborg rats that are too smart, okay? That has trouble written all over it.

And how about the self-driving car that went across the country 99% unaided? Maybe it’s just me, but I have lots of questions about the 1%.

And finally someone is making a running boot that does some of the running for you. But only 7% of it. I can’t wait for them to get the other 93% done so I can do some serious sleep walking.

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