Bryan Caplan  

Lax Discipline: Laziness - or Myopia?

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From the comments:

Buzzcut writes:

Troy, discipline is hard. People are lazy.

My guilty pleasure is "Supernanny". Last week, she had a family with 6 kids to deal with (Supernanny said less than 2% of families have 6 or more kids).

The root cause of the "naughtyness" was that Mom was too lazy to discipline the kids, and dad was always at work. Supernanny got mom off her keister and dad to be home, and the kids improved greatly.

I don't think "lazy" is the right adjective. After all, lax discipline means much more work for mom in the future. The right way to describe this mom is "myopic": Failing to exert a small amount of effort today that will save her a lot more effort in the future.


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COMMENTS (8 to date)
mensarefugee writes:

Myopic could seem rational to a mindset without a life-goal.

AKA, if someone didnt have to clean up after their kids they would have some other useless work to do or will have nothing to do with their boring lives...

Troy Camplin writes:

That's not typically how it really works out, though. I saw another Supernanny where the parents desperately wanted to have time to themselves, and couldn't figure out how to get their children to go to bed and be asleep before midnight. Turns out that in this case the problem was simple: they should have had their own rooms. When they got their own rooms, both boys went right to sleep. The father was resistant to the idea, though, because he had some lingering romantic notions about what going up sharing a bedroom with his brothers was like. Romanticizing causes most of the problems we face.

Jeff Holmes writes:

So, myopic mom has too high of a discount rate, then?

Horatio writes:

You assume she's rational but just values today far more than tomorrow relative to the rest of us. What if she isn't rational? What if her mind is too simple to even project that far into the future? Well, then she's just lazy.

Buzzcut writes:

Troy, I too romanticize room sharing. My boys share a room, and my girls will eventually (one is still a bun in the oven!).

I haven't seen that particular Supernanny episode. I guess I need to keep that in mind should the kids start acting up like that. Right now, some nights are a little difficult to get the boys to settle down, but nothing as insane as midnight.

For what its worth, my boys are total buddies. Partners in crime, in fact. I have no idea if room sharing has anything to do with it (could be the fact that they're almost Irish twins).

Buzzcut writes:

Horatio has an interesting point.

Some would say that, by having 6 kids, she was not very future oriented in the first place!

Question for you other Supernanny lovers out there: are you always amazed at how NICE the homes are of the Supernanny "contestants"? They're generally in trendy "McMansion" style homes.

Maybe that's an indication that they're not future oriented (says the guy that lives in the mother of all McMansions).

Mason writes:

"Some would say that, by having 6 kids, she was not very future oriented in the first place!"

Some (Bryan) would that by having 6 kids she's very future oriented.

6 kids probably means 12 grandkids (assuming they don't continue in the large family lifestyle, (probably a poor assumption)).

And if they're living in McMansions they probably won't find much more happiness from more money, but may well find it in their grandchildren.

Troy Camplin writes:

There's a different dynamic with twins. When you are dealing with two of different ages, I bet you'll find a very different dynamic entirely.

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