The longest parenting study ever done, on the long-term effects of different parenting styles, was 70 years long! Want to hear more about this child development study and what I think? Then read on!!
I know I've done a good job as a mom, and I credit that in part to all kinds of parenting books and resources, including advice from others. But of course in this day and age, you can just click a button and suddenly have access to so many peer-reviewed studies apparently proving how to be the best parent possible. But, can you truly use science and nothing but science to determine how to be a good parent?
First, let's talk a little bit more about the scope of the study. It started after World War II. It tracked about 70,000 children over 70 years. So you know that, if there's a strong pattern in the data, it's probably pretty meaningful!
First off, what the researchers were specifically studying were the effects of all kinds of parental situations and decisions on their children's health, education, and happiness.
Unfortunately, the biggest pattern in this parenting study, determining the future of the child, was…how much MONEY the parents had. And obviously, that's not something people can really help. But of course, there are still a million other things that were more important in determining health, education, and happiness. For example, parents who spent a lot of time communicating with their kids (both talking and listening), and also being warm and understanding to their kids during those times, was important.
But as important as it was to be lovey-dovey, it was just as important to teach them outside the classroom (such as doing math with them and reading with them), and it was also important to be the disciplinarian by making expectations clear. Talk frequently with your child about what your expectations are for them, and how they feel about that.
Also, making sure they GET TO BED ON TIME was a big one! Yes, that was actually a huge determiner of the child's future health, education, and happiness! So get thee to sleep!!
And I totally understand if you're thinking right now, "Well duh, Michele, all this is obvious! So what's the big parenting secret?"
Well I hope you don't feel ripped off or duped into reading this article, but the reason for this clickbait was because I really, really want to stress that THERE ARE NO hidden secrets / parenting hacks. If a 70-year parenting study can only tell us stuff we already know, then the only true secret is, making sure that you actually DO it.
I suppose the big parenting secret that we can get out of this longitudinal parenting study is, write down parenting goals and schedule out time for them!!
It's not too far off from when people talk about not having enough time for their spouse, so they schedule every Friday night as a date night. The same thing is true for quality time with your kids. Schedule in those activities! But at the same time, one interesting thing this parenting study showed was that "quality time" (that children and parents ranked as meaningful) was just any time spent communicating.
Quality time isn't so much defined by soccer and ballet and piano, as much as it is by making dinner together, or just sitting down for a full 10 minutes and talking about your day. That's quality time. You may feel like you don't need to schedule it, but just schedule it anyway!!
And you may feel like these parenting tips are obvious, but if there's anything this parenting study shows, it's that unfortunately a lot of parents (even if they know the obvious) aren't quite living up to it. Life is hectic, and so I think the most important part is writing down those parenting goals. Doesn't matter that they're "obvious." It matters that they get done.