In our series of posts focusing on ‘Happy homes, happy society?‘ the title of our upcoming London conference in 2020, Rosemary Roscoe will feature over the next few months aspects of home life that make for a fulfilling future and secure relationships beyond the home.
The key to a contented life is growing up in a happy family, confirms a study conducted by Harvard Medical School, following interviews with 81 men from adolescence to the twilight years, a span of over 60 years. It’s official: our nurture has far-reaching consequences for the rest of our lives! The new research suggests the impact can last longer than ever imagined with people from caring home environments being more likely to have good marriages in their 80s, as they have a greater ability to manage stressful emotions and have more secure relationships.
So what needs to happen in the home, with all the ups and downs of life, to ensure the future well-being of children? Smile and the world smiles with you, as the popular saying goes, and smiling at babies is a good start. A simple smile can make a baby feel safe and secure and even boost their brain development apparently. And a baby’s smile in return gladdens the heart, releasing good endorphins in a parent’s brain. Parents under constant stress, on the other hand, can transfer that emotional state to their children, possibly with long-term implications, according to sociologists.
Good parenting can also overcome socio-economic barriers. A 2014 study of 243 people born into poverty, by the University of Minnesota, found that children who received “sensitive caregiving” in their first three years not only did better in academic tests in childhood, but had healthier relationships and greater academic attainment in their 30s.
Teaching children to get on with their siblings will also have life-long benefits. Researchers from Pennsylvania, in a 20-year study covering infants into adulthood, proved that socially competent children who could cooperate with their peers without prompting, be helpful to others, understand their feelings, and resolve problems on their own, were far more likely to be successful academically and have a full-time job by the age of 25 than those with limited social skills. The studies confirm what we instinctively all know: that being raised in a warm family environment has huge benefits, whatever the set-backs in life!