Bygone blog — Parental stupidity index

29 Nov

This is the latest in my on-again, off-again series of Bygone Blogs, in which I’m re-posting some of my favorite blogs from the last 14 years. This one was originally published on October 8, 2008.


Parental Stupidity Index

WARNING! Mathematics ahead!
(But stay with me, because you might find this interesting.)

My husband and I have a 14-year old. She thinks we’re stupid.

Now this phenomenon — which I’ll call “Perceived Parental Intelligence,” or PPI — is not unusual. Matter of fact, it’s so commonplace I’m surprised there hasn’t been any serious quantitative research on the subject. So of course, I’ve decided to give it a shot.

As I see it, the PPI phenomenon proceeds something like this: from birth to pre-teen, children think their parents are the smartest people in the world. At about 9 or 10 years old, that perception begins to sag. Then, at around 11 years old, the PPI takes a precipitous drop and continues to drop (i.e. parents continue to get stupider) until children’s mid to late-teen years.

It’s at this time, roughly coinciding with the college years, that Perceived Parental Intelligence begins a slow and steady crawl back up. Not surprisingly, the index takes an abrupt upswing in the late 20s, when children start having children of their own, and they wonder how on earth their parents managed to raise a family without going psycho.

For visual learners, below you’ll see how the PPI phenomenon looks when graphed.

Point A, a child’s early years, are when parents are percieved to be really smart and know everything.

Point B, when a child enters the pre-teen years, parents begin their quick descent into stupidity.

At Point C, when grandchildren are born, parents all of a sudden look like Einstein.

I’m curious to see if other families are seeing the same phenomenon. I also encourage replication of this study. I wonder, for example, if Point B — where the PPI begins to decline — is a constant.

* * *

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(posted 11/28/2022)

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