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Wed Jan 9, 2013, 04:06 PM

"Modern parenting may hinder brain development, research shows"

Social practices and cultural beliefs of modern life are preventing healthy brain and emotional development in children, according to an interdisciplinary body of research presented recently at a symposium at the University of Notre Dame.

“Life outcomes for American youth are worsening, especially in comparison to 50 years ago,” says Darcia Narvaez, Notre Dame professor of psychology who specializes in moral development in children and how early life experiences can influence brain development.

“Ill-advised practices and beliefs have become commonplace in our culture, such as the use of infant formula, the isolation of infants in their own rooms or the belief that responding too quickly to a fussing baby will ‘spoil’ it,” Narvaez says.

This new research links certain early, nurturing parenting practices — the kind common in foraging hunter-gatherer societies — to specific, healthy emotional outcomes in adulthood, and has many experts rethinking some of our modern, cultural child-rearing “norms.”


More:

http://newsinfo.nd.edu/news/36653-modern-parenting-may-hinder-brain-development-research-shows/

16 replies, 1810 views

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Response to kickysnana (Original post)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 04:32 PM

1. Except 50 years ago it was even more common to bottle feed

and isolate babies in their rooms.

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Response to kickysnana (Original post)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 04:32 PM

2. Those are old ideas that have come back

because I can remember some dimwits spouting them when I was a kid back in the early 50s.

I honestly thought this would be about helicopter parenting, not rigid semi-parenting.

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Response to Warpy (Reply #2)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 05:08 PM

3. My grandmother told me that, after she gave birth to my mother (1921),

she had to fight against her own instincts to go and cuddle and comfort the baby. Her husband and family believed in child-raising theories that babies were supposed to be fed and handled on a strict schedule, and cuddling or feeding on demand would spoil them. She described sitting outside the door of the baby's room looking at the clock and crying in misery because she wanted her baby so badly and the baby was screaming. She used to "sneak" extra non-scheduled time with the baby when nobody was looking.

She was a very young mother at the time, and grew a lot stronger in self-confidence as she got older. Eventually she had five kids, and treated them with lots of love and attention.

You're right, "old ideas."

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Response to enough (Reply #3)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 05:11 PM

4. This is one of the reasons the extended family living together

was abandoned as soon as people were able to. There was far less misery to deal with when the parents, grandparents, and other interfering relatives lived elsewhere.

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Response to Warpy (Reply #4)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 09:02 PM

15. Good point Warpy. People romanticize the "extended family under one roof"

image of yesteryear, but not that many would want to live out their lives in that reality.

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Response to enough (Reply #15)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 09:22 PM

16. No, they all need to take good long, hard looks at their parents and inlaws

No societal institution has ever fallen apart as fast as the extended family under one roof did.

There's a really good reason for that.

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Response to kickysnana (Original post)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 06:24 PM

5. a child learns more through touch than anything else

you absolutely cannot touch your baby too much. for the first few years, the impact is profound

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Response to kickysnana (Original post)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 06:29 PM

6. Once again, a misleading title for a popular science/medicine article...

Most of my postings that rant on this theme are posted in the Science group, but I think a similar concern is appropriate here.

Admittedly, the goal of the popular press is to incite fear and panic in the populace each and every day, but is it necessary to carry that over into science, medicine, and health topics??

The title is "Modern parenting may hinder brain development, research shows".

Definition
hin·der 1 (hndr)
v. hin·dered, hin·der·ing, hin·ders
v.tr.
1. To be or get in the way of.
2. To obstruct or delay the progress of.
v.intr.
To interfere with action or progress.


If you search the article, or search the articles linked on the researcher's blog, the word 'hinder' does not occur. Neither does 'inhibit', 'stunt', 'prevent', or 'diminish'...at least in my brief attempts. I did not look at the papers on the researcher's website.

In the article the researcher is quoted as saying:

“The right brain, which governs much of our self-regulation, creativity and empathy, can grow throughout life. The right brain grows though full-body experience like rough-and-tumble play, dancing or freelance artistic creation. So at any point, a parent can take up a creative activity with a child and they can grow together.”


This statement does not mean that 'modern' parenting techniques will somehow block or decrease natural/normal brain development, but rather that a broader array of techniques will or may help foster or encourage brain development.

Am I just hair-splitting? I don't think so. My impression is that the researcher is intending to inform the readers of things that may help their children become happier, healthier, and better members of social groups. I don't think she intention was to encourage the idea that parents and their children have been victims of a left wing/right wing/chicken wing conspiracy of "modern parenting".

Rant off.

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Response to DreamGypsy (Reply #6)

Wed Jan 9, 2013, 10:33 PM

7. It always amazes me that every ten years Moms have been doing it all wrong.

Make sure that the grandmas have no credibility, I guess.

Moms who are naturals do what is needed. Those that struggle get sucked into conflicting research/advice.

The native American community over the last few years has organized Auntie/Grandma groups to help the young mothers be all they can be, support, advice only when asked kind of thing and hope that the results speak for themselves and that this and the next generation have it a little easier than the last few.

Sounds like a good thing to me.

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Response to kickysnana (Reply #7)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 06:46 AM

8. True. Just like one year milk and eggs are good for you and the next year

they are bad for you.

I had the opportunity over the holidays to closely observe an 11 month old nephew. His mom picked him up every single time he whimpered. You could absolutely see how spoiled he has become and rather unlikable and obnoxious to others. Maybe the attention and touching and holding is only valuable up to a point in age and then should be weened off.

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Response to Laura PourMeADrink (Reply #8)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 08:53 PM

11. How unlikable

can an 11 month old be?

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Response to Dorian Gray (Reply #11)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 09:27 AM

14. plenty

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Response to kickysnana (Original post)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 08:20 AM

9. In fact, letting children 'cry it out' was much more recommended 50 years ago than now.

For instance, John and Elizabeth Newson's 'Patterns of Infant Care' (1963) reports results of interviews with 700 Nottingham mothers of one-year-old children. 'Whenever mothers reported receiving professional advice from doctors or nurses, it was in fact invariably in the direction of urging them not to 'give in' to the child' and to let them cry it out, though most mothers were not able to force themselves to follow the medical directions fully. E.g.: 'Doctor told me to leave him; and if he cried, let him; if I put him to bed and he wouldn't sleep, to let him cry- to leave him an hour and if he still cried to go and slap him and leave him another hour; but I couldn't - not to let him cry like that.'

Even Dr. Spock recommended being 'firm' with babies who cried at night. It was only in the 1970s - after research by Mary Ainsworth and colleagues suggested that when mothers are responsive to their babies' signals, the babies end up crying less, and show better later adjustment in certain respects -that some of the advice began to be modified.


Although I agree that rigid infant-rearing methods are not ideal, I tend to be suspicious of the doom-laden suggestions that there are modern 'epidemics' of all sorts of social problems that were never present in the past. Often these suggestions either look back through rose-coloured glasses and forget past problems, or they ignore the economic and broader social factors in influencing outcomes. If 'life outcomes for American youth' (and those of other countries too) 'are worsening', a lot of this may be the result of economic uncertainty, increased rate of poverty, and job insecurity.

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Response to LeftishBrit (Reply #9)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 03:34 AM

13. Well

said.

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Response to kickysnana (Original post)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 08:35 AM

10. Another point: this researcher may be an expert on moral development, but, unless she has been badly

misquoted, she is not an expert on the brain and its development.

'The right brain, which governs much of our self-regulation, creativity and empathy, can grow throughout life. The right brain grows though full-body experience like rough-and-tumble play, dancing or freelance artistic creation. So at any point, a parent can take up a creative activity with a child and they can grow together.”'


This is what's sometimes called a 'neuromyth'. The right and left hemispheres do not have starkly different functions to the extent that is often portrayed. The left hemisphere is mainly responsible for language, and the right hemisphere has a stronger role in spatial abilities, but it is not true that the right hemisphere is 'creative' and the left isn't. This myth is a common one, and may stem from the fact that the visual arts, which are often equated with 'creativity', do depend significantly on visual-spatial abilities. But it is not the case that the right hemisphere is 'intuitive' and the left hemisphere 'logical'. In fact, all complex activities, including most creative and/or logical ones require activity from both hemispheres.

At least, the myth that the right hemisphere is mainly responsible for creativity is a common one. The idea that it is also mainly responsible for empathy and self-regulation is an idiosyncratic one from the researcher and/or whoever reported her study. Self-regulation is mainly a function of the frontal lobes of the brain - both sides. Empathy involves many brain areas, but both emotion-related areas (the amygdala) and parts of the frontal lobes seem to be crucially involved, again bilaterally.

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Response to kickysnana (Original post)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 12:27 AM

12. Glad I'm not of the "modern parent"

variety.

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