Two Skills of Great Parents

Father Daughter ChatParenting impacts children for a lifetime. In fact, some researchers suggest poor parenting impacts people in their sixties as much as the death of a loved one. Parenting built on the two particular skills, however, leads to higher life satisfaction and better mental health even into a person’s retirement!  Researchers gleaned these two skills based on a study that tracked a group of over 5,000 people from the time of their birth in 1946. Over sixty years later, 2,000 of the people in this group completed another series of surveys, one of which focused on their parents. (Read study here) Two pillars of parenting were found to contribute to happiness and well-being in children even into their adult lives: warmth and responsiveness. Let’s take a moment to look more closely at each of these pillars.

Pillar One—Warmth: Warm, caring parents nurture a strong bond between parent and child, enhancing parent-child intimacy. This strong relational bond serves as a secure base from which children explore their world. It also provides a safe haven of comfort and protection in which children find safety and recover from the stresses that naturally arise in life. This supports a child’s improved ability to manage stress and pressure, a sense of competence, and an overall sense of well-being even into adulthood.  Interestingly, paternal and maternal caring equally impacted well-being through middle adulthood but paternal warmth and caring showed a greater impact (than maternal caring) on well-being into late adulthood. With that caveat let me speak directly to fellow Dads… building a warm relationship with your children will enhance their sense of well-being even into their retirement! That is an amazing legacy!

Pillar Two—Responsiveness: Parental responsiveness leads to higher life satisfaction and better mental well-being in children throughout their lifetime. Responsive parents respond to their children’s needs in a loving manner. They respond to their children’s request for help by helping, not taking over. They respond to their children’s need to be heard by listening, not lecturing. As a result, their children gain greater independence. Responsive parents respond to their children’s fears by offering comfort and support rather than criticizing mistakes. When parents are responsive rather than controlling, children learn wise decision-making, confident interdependence, and healthy boundaries. Children who possess these skills become happier adults. They will experience greater life satisfaction even into adulthood.

Build your parenting on these two pillars—warmth and responsiveness–and you will enjoy more intimacy with your children. You will also know the satisfaction of watching your happy children mature and grow into healthy, happy adults with a zest for life!

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