Helicopter vs. Free-Range Parenting: How The Child-Rearing Techniques Affect Kids' Adult Lives

Parents often say that raising a child is one of the most rewarding and important roles you'll ever play. While there is no clear “best” way to raise a child, recent survey results from Kobe University in Japan have revealed the lasting effects that different rearing techniques can have on children’s personalities, wealth, and overall happiness after they’ve left the nest.

For the project, the researchers surveyed 5,000 women and men about their relationships with their parents during childhood as part of the Fundamental Research for Sustainable Economic Growth in Japan project. The adults were asked to state how much they agreed with statements such as “My parents trusted me,” and “I felt like my family had no interest in me.” According to a recent statement, the researchers used this data to identify key factors of the adult respondent’s childhood: interest/disinterest, trust, rules, independence, time spent together, and experiences of being scolded.

boy A parent's love (or scorn) has lasting effects on a child's potential. Pixabay, Public Domain

The team evaluated the responses, taking into consideration the respondents’ professions, lifestyle, and personality traits to see if there was a correlation between one's upbringing and their adult lives. Results revealed that certain parenting techniques were closely related to certain adult traits.

For example, grown children whose parents had shown a lot of interest in them and given them high levels of independence and trust often enjoyed academic success and high salaries and reported being happy with their adult lives. On the opposite side of the spectrum, parents who showed less interest in their children, yet employed strict parenting methods, raised children also likely to enjoy high salaries and academic success as adults, but who were less happy and more stressed.

Although childhood makes up a relatively short portion of our lives, the consequences from negative childhood experiences can last well into adulthood. For example, one 2015 study found that chronic stress in childhood for young girls could cause them to have premature labor later in life. The research, surveying Canadian mothers who had delivered pre-term babies, showed that the risk of preterm birth doubled for women exposed to two or more adverse experiences as children. The researchers are now working to better understand how the body can “remember” certain traumatic experiences, and how these “memories” can affect our health later on in life.

In addition, child abuse in general can have adverse health consequences during adulthood for both genders and raises an adult's risk for drug abuse. One study found that adults who were chronically abused as children were also at greater risk of having mental health problems and are twice as likely to abuse their own children.

Source: Nishimura K, Yagi T. Fundamental Research for Sustainable Economic Growth in Japan. KOBE University. 2016

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