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Study: Canadian Parents Enforce Fewer Rules

• October 15, 2010 • 5:00 AM

In comparison to French and Italian parents, Canadians deemed most tolerant, according to study.

As if year-round ice fishing and being weaned on Molson weren’t enough, a new study has pinpointed an additional benefit to being a Canadian kid: Your parents are probably awesome. A paper in the Journal of Adolescence compared how parents in three different countries — Canada, France and Italy — raised their teenage children, connected emotionally with them and exerted control over their behavior. The three countries were selected because they each share a Catholic history, speak a Latin language and boast advanced industrialization.

For the study, teenagers were asked to describe their relationship with their parents — everything from communication and emotional bonding to rules and discipline about friend-related activities. “Of all three countries, Italian mothers and fathers are perceived as using the most constraining practices,” said leading author Michel Claes, a psychology professor at the University of Montreal. “Italian parents are seen as more demanding in rules and authorizations. They take more punitive actions when rules are broken and are less tolerant of peer socialization. They uphold family regulations and require their adolescents to ask for authorizations until a much later age.” Is it any wonder so many Italian men choose to live with the parents until they’re 40?

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The French were found to parent in a more moderate fashion. While French fathers were seen as emotionally distant — after all, what does homework matter when the great philosophers tell us the world is merely an illusion? — French mothers were perceived to foster closer bonds with their children in adolescence. (Probably because Dad was at the café the whole time.)

Canadian parents were the most tolerant, enforced the fewest rules and took less disciplinary action against their kids — which, when you think about it, explains a whole lot about youth ice hockey.

From the “Clearing Things Up” file
Here’s the introduction to “‘The Superorganic,’ or Kroeber’s Hidden Agenda,” by the University of Montreal’s Michel Verdon, published in Philosophy of the Social Sciences:

“Kroeber’s ‘The Superorganic’ (1917) stands as the first extreme statement of cultural holism. Some have compared it to Durkheim, the majority to Boas; some have denied any evolutionary message, others read in it a theory of ‘emergent evolution’ arising from his transcendental holism. What was it, exactly? When understood as part of a trilogy comprising two other articles (one from 1915, the other from 1919), it emerged that his extreme brand of cultural holism was a necessary tool to carry out a relatively hidden evolutionary agenda. This led me to rethink his evolutionism, to deny that he was a cultural determinist, to understand this part of his anthropology in terms of ‘epistemological obstacles’ (Bachelard 1938), and show that it reemerges in Appadurai’s understanding of globalization (1996).”

Best we can tell, it has something to do with fashion. No, seriously.

The Cocktail Napkin appears at the back page of each issue of Miller-McCune magazine, highlighting current research that merits a raised eyebrow or a painful grin.

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Matt Palmquist
A graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, Matt Palmquist, a former Miller-McCune staff writer, began his career at daily newspapers such as The Oregonian and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. In 2001, he became a staff writer at the SF Weekly in San Francisco, where he won several local and national awards. He also wrote a humorous current affairs column called "The Apologist," which he continued upon leaving the Weekly and beginning a freelance career.

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