The reason why childhood environment can affect your children's future relationships forever
One of the absolute most overwhelming things about being a parent is knowing that you are not just raising a child from when they are born to when they leave home, but also shaping who those children will be as adults.
As in, the choices we make now, as parents, our everyday actions and surroundings and how we relate to both our children and also other people, all those things will to a large degree determine not only the kind of people our children grow up to be, but also how they fare in most areas of their lives.
This, it turns out, matters for all children – but especially so for boys.
In fact, according to a recent study in Psychological Science, men who grew up in warm, supportive, home environments proved to have stronger relationships and a better ability to manage emotions. The findings were so strong that it led many researchers to wonder if gaining the skills needed to manage the roller coaster of life are actually acquired in childhood.
The two-part study was started all the way back in 1938, when "researchers enrolled male Harvard students and inner-city Boston teens and used lengthy interviews to rate the quality of the boys’ family environments." Years later, different researchers then followed up with the men in midlife to assess how successfully they were able to manage negative emotions.
Now in their 80s, the male participants of the study were questioned and observed again by the new researchers, as they tried to determine the men's level of attachment to their partners.
What the researchers found, was that regardless of socioeconomic status, the men who were raised in warmer, gentler family environments used better strategies to cope with negative emotions not only in midlife, but also in old age. As well as this, they were also much more securely attached to their partners.
It is important to keep in mind that while this study only looked at men, and only suggests that a warmer childhood can result in better relationships later in life, there is no denying that it is a correlation that shouldn’t be overlooked.
According to Scientific American, the creators of this study gives this advice to parents based on their research results:
“There are many ways to overcome having a less than idyllic childhood, such as actively working on developing warmer, more stable relationships as an adult or learning how to use healthier strategies to deal with negative emotions. The bottom line is, how we take care of children is just so vitally important.”