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COURSEY: Peeling the Onion

OK, I'll admit it — the Onion story had me going for a minute there, too.

I saw it on Facebook on Wednesday, posted by a friend of mine in Australia (the World Wide Web is a wonderful thing). She made a funny comment, something along the lines of: "Sorry kids — we tried."

The headline said, "Study Finds Every Style of Parenting Produces Disturbed, Miserable Adults." Catchy, and much like the headlines that appear regularly in your daily newspaper about studies that find coffee causes wakefulness or eating too much makes you fat.

As a parent, I wanted to know more. So I clicked on the link.

Wow, I thought when I saw a dateline of Santa Rosa, Calif., I wonder why I didn't already hear about this. Then I saw in the first sentence that the study was done by the highly respected California Parenting Institute, and I was even more interested. So I kept reading.

I was a half-dozen lines into the thing before the alarm bells went off.

"Anything between those extremes (overprotective parenting or highly permissive parenting) is equally damaging ...," the CPI spokesman was quoted as saying.

Wait a minute, I thought. Is this for real? I looked closely at the URL, and there it was: www.theonion.com. Not real. Satire. Humor.

Ha-ha. They got me.

But apparently some readers didn't get it. Robin Bowen, CPI's executive director, stopped laughing when she came into work the next day and had callers and even staffers asking for more information about the "study." The non-profit put out a press release stating that it is not true that all parenting styles produce miserable adults. No kidding.


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