I haven't forgotten about you all. I've been knowing that I needed to produce another blog for months now.
You know me, raw and real. No fluff. I can't lie to you. I've had a complete writer's block!
I don't know if its that I have more on my mind, or that I've been so peaceful and content I have nothing to complain about, or that I just got really busy!
I took on a full time 9-5 job, changed roommates, started online classes for a psychology degree, and started another side hustle to create a passive revenue stream.
So as I decided to come back to you today I realized that I don't have to create mind-blowing content for you every week, I just need to talk to you about what's going on! Especially in my psychology courses.
So much of what I am learning has made a HUGE difference in my mindset and my parenting and all of that can be shared with you all as well!
That being said, I'd like to share with you a paper I wrote for my psych class on parenting strategies. This has made an enormous difference in the way I parent, as well as the way I know I do NOT want to parent.
With all of the information out there on the internet, social media, and unwanted advice from peers, it's important to me to know the science behind parenting from a psychology perspective.
Here is my paper explaining child development at different stages and how parenting styles apply:
Introduction to Parenting 101
Raising a child is a difficult but rewarding journey. Their behavior, processing, and developmental stages are prominent and highly diverse. The good news is, they have been widely studied and happen in predictable stages. The four main stages of development are prenatal/newborn, infancy/childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. There are certain differences in their psychology that make each stage unique. The remarkable thing about knowing these facts is that there are certain techniques across the board that will help facilitate healthy psychological development that will stick with them well into the later stages of life.
Healthy psychological development will play a lasting role in one’s overall perceived life-satisfaction. Those that begin with a healthy, loving parent and experience safe exploration, healthy attachment styles, and healthy parenting styles will be more stable, thus affecting their overall well-being as they age. The weight of your responsibility as a parent is heavy. Things they learn from you throughout their developmental stages will affect their brain function, how their hormones and endocrine system operate, and which genes become more prominent. This can affect even their children’s genes! No pressure!
Prenatal and Newborn
While pregnant, there are certain things you are advised to refrain from. Certain suggestions are made that sound like they are healthy for the mother, but if we take a deeper look, they are more so suggestions for your fetus. Some examples would be the recommendation not to drink alcohol, smoke marijuana, or use nicotine (Kuehn, 2019; Saint Louis, 2017). These substances will permeate the placenta’s filter and enter the embryo’s bloodstream, affecting the central nervous system of the baby and predisposing them to tendencies of craving and liking the taste and odor of such substances (Youngentob & Glendinning, 2009; Youngentob et al. 2007) and leaves epigenetic vulnerabilities to stress or addiction (Stroud et al., 2014; Szutorisz & Hurd, 2016). It will serve you as the mother, as well
as your developing fetus to live your best and most healthy life possible while pregnant. Consider this a very motivating reason to begin and/or sustain a healthy lifestyle that will benefit you both for years to come!
As a newborn, babies are preprogrammed with many natural instincts that will help them survive and thrive. They will naturally be inclined to find food, turn away from something impeding their breathing, or a startle reflex to let their parents know of danger. Some fun facts about newborns are that they prefer their mother’s face and smell over others. They like to gaze at things 8-12 inches away from their face, and they love the sound of their mother’s voice! This is the time to rest and bond with your newborn.
Infancy and Childhood
As their brains grow, and neural connections are made, there are certain things you can do as a mother for your growing and exploring infant. One of my favorite pieces of advice is skin-to-skin contact and continued snuggles through breastfeeding or cuddling. Following Harlow’s research on baby monkey’s more healthy attachment to modeled mothers with cheesecloth as opposed to a wire model (Harlow et al., 1971), there have been correlations of similar tendencies with human babies. Shown to increase brain development and precede higher cognitive abilities (Davis et al., 2017), babies who experience a soft, warm mother who shows affection by touching (Mesman et al., 2015), and who rock, feed, pat or offer soothing or arousing emotional communication (Hertenstein et al., 2006) are provided a secure base and healthy attachment to one safe person. So, snuggle up with your infant, provide plenty of stimulation and contact, and do not be afraid to play lots of peek-a-boo complete with giggles and tickles. You will see benefits of this continue throughout childhood as you stay engaged, learn your child’s personality, and remember they do not have an adult’s brain. Be a safe place for them to explore, take risks, and mess up, knowing that they have you as their safe place to land.
Ah, adolescence! The time of “storm and stress” (G. Stanley Hall, 1904)! Although the adolescent brain grows, at puberty, the hormones and limbic system produce in excess. This will help you to understand “the storm,” where you will notice impulsivity, risky choices, and emotional outbursts (Steinberg & Icenogle, 2019; Smith, 2018). Along with these are the teens' increasing need for acceptance from peers and less connection with you as they search for their identity and the deeper meaning of life (Boyatzis, 2012; Elkind, 1970).
The best thing you can do during this phase is to set consistent, and assertive boundaries. Show them respect as you also command it from them as well. Offer to be a safe space to talk through challenging situations. You will not be their favorite person in the world during this season, but you will be a safe one. Stick to the Authoritative Parenting Style which promotes reasoning while still setting firm boundaries for optimal results.
The peak of the development of the brain is around age 25. After that we experience a slow decline in every physical area of our lives. The good news is that you can model a healthy lifestyle through one major vehicle that will facilitate a slower decline for your adult children! Exercise (Iso-Markku et al., 2016; Rottensteiner et al., 2015)! Exercise promotes a process called neurogenesis, which is the development of new brain cells (Erickson et al., 2010; Pereira et al., 2007). This will combat a comprehensive list of ailments that are associated with age. More is caught than taught, so if you are modeling a healthy lifestyle through exercise, your adult children will follow suit.
Parenting 101 in Action
As you can see, parenting strategies come full circle. Everything starts and ends with the mother taking care of herself, so that she can provide the safest environment for her child’s development from fetus to functioning adult. Refrain from harmful substances like alcohol, smoking, and nicotine. Take time to cuddle, massage and interact with your infant. Provide a solid structure while remaining open
and conversational. And last but certainly not least, maintain an active, healthy lifestyle with exercise to ensure that you are modeling an appealing lifestyle for your child to learn from. You will see the results in their bravery, healthy attachment styles, and healthy psychological development along the way.