The results of a new study may provide great relief to many parents… or simply add to their confusion about what is the best way to nurture their children. Turns out, researchers found the way parents raise their child will not affect how smart the child is. On a personal level, your IQ has been virtually unaffected by your parents’ attempts (or failures) to read with you, talk with you, or generally interact with you.

Seriously? What happened to all the recent (and old) neuroscientific evidence about the brain’s plasticity and its general ability to develop and maintain synaptical connections based on experience? How can frequent and positive experiences with parents not have a beneficial impact on a child’s general intelligence?

“The way you parent a child is not going to have a detectable effect on their IQ as long as that parenting is within normal bounds,” Dr. Kevin M. Beaver recently told Tallahassee Democrat.  Beaver, who is a professor at Florida State University and an expert in biosocial criminology, explores the biological and environmental factors involved in crime and antisocial behavior.

To understand if parenting style affected IQ, Beaver and his co-researchers examined results from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), a study involving more than 15,000 middle- and high-school students in the United States. In particular, ADD Health looked at parenting behavior and whether it had any effect on children’s verbal intelligence scores. Essentially, the ADD Health researchers asked students a series of questions, including How much do you talk with your parents? How close do you feel to your parents? Next, students reported on how permissive their families were and how many activities, including sports and watching TV, they’d done with their parents in the previous week. Given an IQ test at the start of the ADD Health study, the students were tested during their middle and high school years and when they were between the ages of 18 and 26.

For the current study, the researchers not only looked at the general results from ADD Health, they also analyzed the outcome from a subsample of 220 students who had been adopted. Since their parents had not passed on genes, the researchers would be able to see a link between parenting style and the adopted students’ IQ scores most clearly.

What did the researchers discover? Whether parents interacted with their children or not, it had no impact on IQ; this held in cases of adoption as well. “Family and parenting characteristics are not significant contributors to variation in IQ scores,” wrote the authors. Clearly, parents, it’s time to take a well-earned break. And for those of you who fear your parents didn't do enough, well, kiss that particular worry goodbye — your brain power is intact.

Source: Beaver KM, Schwartz JA, Al-Ghamdi MS, et al. A closer look at the role of parenting-related influences on verbal intelligence over the life course: Results from an adoption-based research design. Intelligence. 2014.