I’m sure that many medical scholars and psychologists and psychiatrists have studied the effects of “Ferberization” or helping your kid learn to self-soothe by letting him cry at bedtime. It’s a pretty well established process that parents in America go through, although some are becoming more vocal in opposing it. Regardless, I think it’s a great example of something we don’t know about families and could be potentially insightful in evaluating children’s eventual outcomes. Perhaps even more important is that it might give us insight into parent-child relationships in and of themselves.
A significant problem with trying to analyze how our relationships affect our decision making is that there is likely a lot of endogeneity in relationships. That is to say, we make decisions that determine our relationships that determine our decisions. I don’t know if pinpointing the earliest nodes of a relationship between a parent and a child will do that much, but it does serve, if we can show it has an effect, to clear up some of that endogeneity. If we control for what happened before the relationship formed (and I know that’s simplifying perhaps to an unacceptable degree), perhaps we can isolate what is an effect of the relationship itself.