|As part of the natural course in our lives, we find companions and form relationships with numerous people. In the process of building these relationships, changes occur in marriage, divorce, births, and deaths / Photo by: luckybusiness via 123RF|
As part of the natural course in our lives, we find companions and form relationships with numerous people. In the process of building these relationships, changes occur in marriage, divorce, births, and deaths. Along the way, we may not realize that our experiences during childhood played an important role in setting the foundation for how we deal with people later in our lives. This becomes ingrained in the way we deal with others, which often lasts a lifetime or is very difficult to change.
Family Structure and Parent’s Involvement
Research in September 2016 from Psychological Science, a general-interest journal that publishes articles with a general theoretical significance and broad interest across the field of psychological science, found that men and women who grew up in a warmer and more nurturing family environment had stronger relationships as an adult. This was extensive research, a continuation of a Harvard study on Adult Development, which began in 1938 and spanned almost eight decades. It is actually an ongoing project with psychologist March Schulz at Bryn Mawr College and psychiatrist Robert Waldinger at Harvard Medical School, conducting interviews with subjects 80 years of age. They were being studied for their level of connectedness and attachment to their parents, according to an article by Catherine Caruso titled “Good Relationships Are All in the Family.” The conclusion was that family impact crosses socioeconomic standings. Those who were raised in warmer family environments used healthier strategies to manage negative emotions in their midlife and were more securely attached to their parents, suggesting that the childhood environment affects relationships all the way to adulthood.
According to Actforyouth.net, an organization offering resources in youth development, a Child Trend analysis found that regardless of the situation of the parents or family structure, whether families are cohabiting, married, or even divorced, it’s the parental relationship quality that is linked to the child’s behavior. This means that parents who are able to maintain a happy relationship positively affect their children’s behavior, social competence, social engagement, and depression—how they deal with all kinds of people and relationships, whether romantic or non-romantic. Moreover, grandparents also share a huge responsibility for children’s care. Actforyouth.net shared information from 2017 that 7% of children under 18 lived in their grandparent’s home, alongside at least one parent or both.
|Research in September 2016 from Psychological Science found that men and women who grew up in a warmer and more nurturing family environment had stronger relationships as an adult / Photo by: twinsterphoto via 123RF|
Not only does the structure of the family or the situation of the family play a big role in shaping how children deal with others but also how the parents connect with their children. This affects children’s demeanor and reaction toward situations and also provides a range of health indicators. Close and positive family relationships that allow for open communication help individuals remain healthy and they indirectly choose to avoid drugs and substance abuse or violent behavior. A study titled “Parent-child connectedness and behavioral and emotional health among adolescents” from the official publication of the American College of Preventive Medication mentioned that 82% of boys and 76% of girls valued their parents’ opinions over others’ opinions. Meanwhile, 63% of parents said that they feel like they can share ideas and talk about things that really matter.
A parental stress survey conducted by the National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) titled “Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative” revealed that most parents with teens between the ages of 12 and 17 feel that they are able to share ideas and talk openly with their children, with only 5% explicitly admitting that they are not able to communicate well. As a result, only 11% of children say that they feel any stress from the relationship they have with their parents.
|Not only does the structure of the family or the situation of the family play a big role in shaping how children deal with others but also how the parents connect with their children / Photo by: Roman Samborskyi via 123RF|
A seemingly small and simple task done repeatedly can also make an impact on all our lives. As children grow older, eating meals together with the rest of the family becomes less frequent. However, children do benefit from eating with parents regularly. As shared by M.E. Harrison, co-author of an article featured in Canadian Family Physician, a monthly peer-reviewed open-access medical journal published by the College of Family Physicians of Canada, on reviewing the effects of frequent family meals on the youth, frequent family meals are associated with higher self-esteem and positive academic outcomes as well as decreased depression and substance abuse, violent behavior, and suicidal thoughts. It was also noted that specifically, children who ate with family two or three times a week have healthier eating patterns, consuming fruits and vegetables with reduced likelihood of eating unhealthy food. The study found that girls were least likely to have patterns resembling eating disorders. Moreover, the NSCH survey shared that one in three teens between 12 to 17 years old eat with their families every day, with 31% eating with families most days (or nearly daily) likened more to Hispanic children than the average white or black child and to families that have income levels below the poverty line.
According to Schulz and Waldinger, although children may not necessarily remember every single event that happened in their early life, the accumulation of efforts given by parents to create a loving and nurturing family environment creates a ripple effect over a long period, all the way until old age.
Although there is the saying that “we can’t choose our family” and many are not able to change the current situation they are in, the least of many ways to overcome a less than ideal childhood is to actively develop warmer and more stable relationships as an adult or to determine healthier strategies to deal with negative emotions. For the sake of children and how they grow up, family relationships are just too important.