New parents often ask themselves what kind of parents they want to be. “Good parents,” is often the answer, although with so many techniques out there (helicopter parenting! attachment parenting! authoritative parenting!) it’s kind of hard to figure out which “box” you fall into until you’re actually you know… parenting.
One thing’s for sure — whether we agreed with our own parents’ style or not, odds are we unintentionally picked up a thing or two from them along the way. And science is now backing that theory up.
According to researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Centre, people who had an adverse childhood are actually more likely to incorporate parenting practices that give their own kids something of a troubled upbringing.
It kind of makes sense when you think about it — there’s no “one book to rule them all” when it comes to how the heck to even parent in the first place, so people fall back on what they know.
The problem, according to the study (which only looked at 62 parents with young children), is that some of these innate behaviours are pretty outdated. Ideas like, ‘picking up a crying baby is actually spoiling it,’or ‘children should be seen and not heard.’ Then there are the more sexist learnt behaviours, such as, ‘little boys shouldn’t cry,’ or, ‘boys without a father need to become the head of the household.’
A common theme among many, is the view that children these days have it too easy — especially when it comes to spanking. Although there have been studies showing that even light spanking can actually cause kids to misbehave (rather than fall into line), people still believe it does more good than harm.
So how much harm do some of these behaviours actually cause? Well, most of the parents parents in the study were able to recall three-to-four adverse experiences from when they were kids ( 91 per cent of those asked recalled at least one such event, while 45 per cent remembered four or more). Events ranged from verbal or physical abuse to neglect or abuse. Of their young kids (five years old and under), at least 72 per cent had already experienced at least one adverse experience as well.
Naturally, most parents realize where the behaviour stems from, it’s just a matter of how to correct it. Worried that you may fall into this category? The good news is that open conversations with your family doctor or pediatrician help. But the number one rule is actually the simplest: making your child feel loved and supported — no matter what — goes a pretty darned long way.
Now that’s parenting advice any style of parents can bank on.