Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Parental love is the first gift which gives us the capacity to give

A day or two ago I posted Omni Vincit Amor in which I quoted George E. Vaillant. Vaillant was summarizing the lessons learned from the 78 year Grant Study about what determines life outcomes.
A fifth lesson is that what goes right is more important than what goes wrong, and that it is the quality of a child's total experience, not any particular trauma or any particular relationship, that exerts the clearest influence on adult psychology.
I find this sentiment echoed in an article On Parenting and Parents by Brian Boutwell. Boutwell is balancing an earlier article in which he contended:
that little evidence exists for pervasive and long-lasting parenting influences on child development. I still maintain that position; not out of a personal bias, but simply because that is what the evidence demands of me.
In this essay he argues:
That said, this essay is about why parenting is arguably the single most important activity in which you will engage. This is true, not because you will mould your child’s intellect or personality like a potter. Rather, this is true because your child might write a similar essay about you one day.
It is a touching article.
Parents matter, not because they shape personality directly, not because they inject morality into the minds of their little ones, and not because they ensure the civility and productivity of the next generation by implementing various parenting strategies. Parents matter because human interaction matters. Time matters. Memories matter. Having a storehouse of memories where there is a surplus of good over bad is a wonderful thing. Sadly, not everyone will be so fortunate. My parents bequeathed no DNA to me or my brother. I don’t see my temperament and personality reflected back at me when I look at them. Yet, they were always in the congregation. Their accomplishment was huge; not because they moulded me into the man that I am today. No, their accomplishment was even greater. They exist as two of the most important people in my life. How many people can say that they matter that much in the world? I aspire to hit their mark. I hope that one day, someone writes that I am their most important person. Parenting provides a rare gift; an opportunity to matter in someone’s life. It’s an opportunity that requires no genetic overlap.
The sweetness of the article tends to overshadow what I think is the central argument. To put it as baldly as possible, I think what he is saying is that parents don't matter in terms of their children's outcomes (and there is a reasonable amount of data to support that position) but that parenting is an essential component to societal outcomes. The emotional investment between and among us, most notable in families, is the glue that holds the entirety together.

No comments:

Post a Comment