Is parenting a natural skill or a learned skill? - Mothering Forums

View Poll Results: "You cant be a good parent if you dont know how to parent"
Agree 9 33.33%
Disagree 7 25.93%
Other, please explain. 11 40.74%
Voters: 27. You may not vote on this poll

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#1 of 33 Old 09-13-2011, 08:51 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I've seen this statement "You can't be a good parent if you dont learn how to parent" a few times here on MDC, and Im wondering how many people actually feel that way.

I like books. A lot. But I dont think you have to "learn" how to be a parent. I think for a lot of people, it comes naturally. Before I had DD, I planned to do almost everything I'm doing now. I had no idea that it was called anything until I got pregnant and started reading. I didnt know what Gentle Discipline was, or AP, or CLW, or any of these things that are known so well because of books that people read. These were just the things I wanted to do, and the way I intended on raising my kid because it is the way that seems most natural to me and DH. Natural as in, instinctual. I think reading helped solidify some of my opinions, but most of those opinions and feelings were formed beforehand, and not because I had a great example either.

I feel that there are men and women all over the world that do not "learn" how become parents. A lot of them know because they had good parents, and maybe some of them know what NOT to do because they didnt have good parents. But I dont think every good parent out there reads parenting books, goes to parenting classes, or had examples to learn from. I think some people just know how they want to live and how they want to treat their children.

What do you think?

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#2 of 33 Old 09-13-2011, 09:05 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adaline'sMama View Post

I feel that there are men and women all over the world that do not "learn" how become parents. A lot of them know because they had good parents, and maybe some of them know what NOT to do because they didnt have good parents. But I dont think every good parent out there reads parenting books, goes to parenting classes, or had examples to learn from. I think some people just know how they want to live and how they want to treat their children.


I think most everyone has examples of good and bad parenting around them all of their lives from the time they're born, and all of that counts as "learning" IMO, even if it doesn't come from a book. So although there's certainly a component of parenting instinct for all animals, I think we do learn what kind of parent we'd like to be, mostly from life experience. I absolutely do not believe that reading parenting books is essential to be a good parent -- I can't really imagine that anyone would claim that. 

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#3 of 33 Old 09-13-2011, 09:07 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by limabean View Post

I think most everyone has examples of good and bad parenting around them all of their lives from the time they're born, and all of that counts as "learning" IMO, even if it doesn't come from a book. So although there's certainly a component of parenting instinct for all animals, I think we do learn what kind of parent we'd like to be, mostly from life experience. I absolutely do not believe that reading parenting books is essential to be a good parent -- I can't really imagine that anyone would claim that. 

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#4 of 33 Old 09-13-2011, 09:27 AM
 
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I don't think you have to read parenting books or attend a class or adopt a particular "method" of parenting...but I don't think it's instinctual. We learn to parent by being parented, by watching others be parented, by being around other parents and other kids, and just by being human beings who are trying to co-exist with other human beings. I think there is huge cultural influence and learning.

 

I think of "instincts" as being more broad, general impulses, but the details are all about culture. So it may be instinctive for some of us to want to become parents, but how we become parents and what kind of parents we become is very much driven by culture.

 

Also, I think parenting is like any complex human relationship. There is a lot of trial and error, practice, re-evaluation, and improvisation involved. Sometimes our "instincts" help us, and sometimes they lead us astray. Ditto the cultural influences.

 

It is surprising to me to hear that anyone feels they "just know" how to parent. But maybe that's because I have a pretty narrow concept of what it means to "just know" something. I think we all "just know" how to breathe...but things like eating, sleeping, pooping, not to mention interacting, talking, walking, etc have to be learned to some degree. Just my opinion.

 

ETA: As for "you can't be a good parent if you don't know how to parent"...I'm not sure if I agree or disagree. I think there are too many ways that statement could be interpreted, and I don't know what's meant by "good parent."


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#5 of 33 Old 09-13-2011, 09:43 AM
 
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I had a completely screwed up childhood and had to LEARN to be a good parent. I had no instincts, and was baffled at LLL when they said things like "just parent from your heart."  headscratch.gif  I couldn't hear my inner voice with a stethoscope!

 

I think it will be completely different for my DDs, who've had a lovely (though not perfect) childhood and attend a mixed aged school. I think a lot of things will come quite naturally to them, like gentle discipline.

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#6 of 33 Old 09-13-2011, 11:27 AM
 
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i checked "other." 

i had awful parents.  i had an awesome grandma, though, who spent lots of time raising me and teaching me, etc. 

so i did have some examples and some idea... but i think for me, and dh (who does/did have fantastic parents) our world view impacts our parenting a lot.  we try to treat our kid as a person.. as a person with thoughts, needs, feelings that are just as legitimate as those of any adult. 

however, it's really difficult to try to parent, i think, from "scratch," as my parents were kind of neglectful and authoritarian at the same time.  i've really had to struggle and it's never easy, say, to learn to breastfeed, if you haven't had anyone talk to you or show you how.  babyhood was excruciating for us-- and that point of dd's life wasn't instinctual for me.  instinctual for me at that point would have been to run away with my hands over my ears and to just bang my head on the wall in frustration.  she screamed constantly and breastfeeding did not go well at first.  dh's mom helped lots with that, but she couldn't stay at our house forever... 

toddlerhood, and childhood, those stages DO seem more instinctual.. treat the kid like a human being, and just set up situtations that are not epic failures and exercises in frustration.  just common sense and awareness and active thinking (which in pregnancy is getting more difficult for me...) do seem to go a long way.  i was in the grocery store the other day and this lady was yelling at her (what looked to be) around 1 year old for standing up in the back of the grocery cart.. and i thought to myself.. WHY would you put your kid there instead of strap it in the kid part if standing up in the cart is a big deal? 

i think it's sort of like cooking... nobody ever really showed me how.. i can read and follow recipes, and some of the good stuff IS instinctual.  but the really good cooks have had generational examples and played with parents/grandparents in the kitchen when they were little, AND read good books, AND have good palates and instincts.  i think there's a lot to it.. and some of us are better cooks than others, and some of us have specialties (did i mention babies aren't my specialty?)  and i can bake stuff pretty well but am lost with a grill, kind of like that... 


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#7 of 33 Old 09-13-2011, 02:41 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post

I had a completely screwed up childhood and had to LEARN to be a good parent. I had no instincts, and was baffled at LLL when they said things like "just parent from your heart."  headscratch.gif  I couldn't hear my inner voice with a stethoscope!

 

 



 

I agree with this. I had to learn how to parent. I had no idea there were kids in this world who are not spanked, or that you could breastfeed after 1 year, etc.

 

I'm still learning.


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#8 of 33 Old 09-13-2011, 03:41 PM
 
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I feel like being a parent taught me that maybe my parents weren't the best parents out there after all -- something I truly didn't realize until I was a parent myself. Which I guess is kind of the opposite of what happens with most people!

I do feel like the way I parent is largely just some kind of natural impulse. But at the same time, I've learned so much over the course of my short 2.5 years of parenting, from being DS's mother and from being around other mothers, from observing DS and from DS showing me what he needs, and yes, from a few books and lots of reading online.

Some things come so naturally... the best example I can think of was the way cosleeping happened for me. I had no intention of sharing a bed with my child and no real knowledge about the pros & cons and had done literally NO reading on cosleeping (and minimal reading on crib sleeping... I didn't even know the sleep-on-your-back thing). And then DS was born and I held him in my arms and realized he was going to be sleeping with me. But then other things I've learned, though certainly not just from reading books (I think I've only read about 4 parenting books ever lol... all of them within the last few months).

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#9 of 33 Old 09-13-2011, 04:03 PM
 
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I think for many, parenting is a natural skill. But there are many many people who've been taught to ignore their instincts about a lot of things, and so they really can't figure out what their instincts are. Gavin DeBecker makes that argument with personal safety. A lot of women (and a good many men) have been so trained to be polite that they don't trust their gut when someone makes them uncomfortable. Now, there are always superb con men (wish there was a gender neutral term for con man) who fly under our radar. But a lot of trouble could be avoided by listening to your gut.

 

But when you've been specifically told (especially by people in authority) that your gut is to be ignored, or that your gut is WRONG, it's hard. Example: My grandmother raised 11 children. Her second was a cranky baby who cried a lot. My grandpa was a traveling salesman who was gone all week and home on the weekends. When grandpa came home, grandma turned the care of the toddler and the baby over to grandpa for an afternoon and went to bed. My grandma had been firmly told by her doctor that she was only to feed her babies 4 oz every 4 hours. That's all the babies 'needed' according to 'science'. My grandma would feed him the 4 oz, and he'd cry soon afterwards. Well, my grandpa came home one weekend, fed my uncle the 4 oz, my uncle cried, my grandpa fed him another 4 oz, and he was happy as a clam. When my grandma woke up, she was astonished to not hear the baby crying. She asked my grandpa what he'd done. He explained about the extra bottle, and they agreed, then and there that they'd gotten bad advice from the doctor. My uncle was no longer fed on schedule, or a limited amount. But what if my grandparents hadn't had the guts to 'defy' the doctor? My grandma had a hard time because she IGNORED her instinct for that baby. Luckily, my grandpa was a wise enough to follow his and they resolved the problem easily enough. None of their other babies were on a schedule. My mother tells this story precisely as a "listen to your gut about children" story.

 

If you've been raised in an abusive home, I don't know if you can trust your gut. I was not raised in an abusive home, but there was spanking. It is so hard for me not to lash out at my children in anger sometimes. I know where it comes from, and still my 'instinct' is off.

 

I don't think you have to read, but I do think you have the think about your parenting and evaluate and reevaluate.

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#10 of 33 Old 09-13-2011, 04:24 PM
 
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This is a very interesting question, and one that's been on my mind a lot in the last year since our first child is about due. I'm pretty torn on it - my parents weren't the greatest. No physical or sexual abuse - just a lot of incompetence, neglect and anger management issues. Both of my parents also had issues with alcohol abuse and mental stability. So for me, I certainly have the example of what not to do as a parent. 

 

Then again, I feel like I've got a pretty level head on my shoulders and a fair amount of common sense - I've already far surpassed my parents lives in what I've been able to do and accomplish - graduated college, been in a healthy, steady marriage for six years (with my husband for a total of eleven years), kept a steady job, don't abuse alcohol, no major mental breakdowns... 

 

So, is parenting a skill or instinct? I think that as with most things, it's probably a combination of both - you have a certain instinctual skill set if you will, that is developed and refined by your environment, whether positively or negatively. Well, I'm about to find out first hand if that's true anyway! :-) 


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#11 of 33 Old 09-13-2011, 04:34 PM
 
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Even if you claim you never "learned" to parent, you did learn -- by being parented, by observing parents around you.

 

Humans are primates.  Other primates, if raised in such a way that they never observe parenting in action?   Reject their babies at birth.  

At best, they walk away and leave the helpless baby on the ground, at worst they kill it.  

Those primate parents, if put into a group with mothers and infants and allowed to live with them and observe?   The next time they give birth, they will try to nurture and parent their baby.

 

It's learned.  We're social animals, the vast majority of our behavior is learned by observation.  IT's why our babies begin to watch us and mimic our expressions within minutes of birth -- they do have an instinct, but it is not to behave a certain way, it is to seek out and learn the "right" ways to behave in their social group.

 

Parenting behaviors are not instinctive.  The urge to do *something* when faced with a baby is probably instinct -- that crawling feeling you get when a baby cries?  THat's instinct.   The action you choose to take to deal with the crawling feeling is *learned,* and is societally mediated (if you learn that the right response to crying is to nurse or rock, you'll do that, but if you learn that the right response is to ignore to teach the child to stop, you'll do that instead.).

 

 

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#12 of 33 Old 09-13-2011, 05:19 PM
 
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I had to learn how to be a good parent, my mother wasn't awful but she did a lot of things that I didn't want to repeat as a parent.  Without the skills I learned from the parenting books I read I wouldn't have anything to fall back on when my instincts/anger is telling me to do something harsh to get back at my child for angering me by misbehaving.  Maybe there are a lot of people out there who don't have to learn how to override those instincts, or who just don't get those instincts, but I am not one of them and I have yet to meet one.  My friends and I read, take classes, and share ideas to learn how to be the parent we want to be.

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#13 of 33 Old 09-13-2011, 09:21 PM
 
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I think, at the very least, a lot of us have had to unlearn the not-so-great or even downright bad parenting we learned growing up.

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#14 of 33 Old 09-14-2011, 04:00 AM
 
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Why did so many of us have negative parenting experiences as children?????

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#15 of 33 Old 09-14-2011, 05:50 AM
 
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I don't know about you, but I'd say we had a lot of negative parenting experiences as children because parenting is a learned skill, but not one that's easy to learn from a book.

 

My mom had all the books. 

 

My friend's mom had all the books about non-violent parenting and used at least one of them as a paddle to hit her kids!

 

In some ways, I put in the time to read the books to reassure myself that I'm still sticking with the resolutions I made as a child. 

 

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Why did so many of us have negative parenting experiences as children?????


 


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#16 of 33 Old 09-14-2011, 06:04 AM
 
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I had to check other.  Some people have a make-up and background that helps parenting come naturally and some have to work at it.  I think "natural" can be over-rated.  Right now I am thinking back to when I worked as a family support worker.  This very dedicated single parent dad was referred to me because some professionals working with his family noticed he had difficulty reading baby cues, and our family resource centre had resources particular to helping with this problem.  We went through photos and photos of infants with different expressions, and scenario after scenario.  Currently having a child on the spectrum, I look back wondering if this dad may have had a learning difficulty affecting his ability to read non-verbals.  Anyhow, it didn't come naturally, and it was a lot of hard work, but he did it, and then went on to start a volunteer support group for helping fathers become better parents.  He took further education and is a counselor as a job, now.  It didn't all come naturally, but he ended up doing just as well (maybe better) by learning.

 

Also, even those of us who find it easy to parent naturally bump into stages where we need help and information.  I personally found parenting my children something that came naturally when they were preschoolers, and actually my own family were pretty good with us that age, too (I had pretty good parents but they did have mental health issues, as well as my brother, so not idyllic by any means, but everyone tried their best).  However, some of the decisions I've had to make once they were school age did not come naturally.  How much to protect and how much to push out into the world?  As kids get older, who they are as increasingly more formed individuals comes into play and balancing the needs of very different family matters isn't always a simple and natural matter.  And if you have a special needs child sometimes you have to learn skills that didn't come naturally at all.  OTOH, I don't think that when things are coming naturally for parents there is any need to get caught up in "learning".  There does seem to be a lack of parental confidence in our generation of parents, and a need for professionals, when if your gut is working there's no reason why you can't go by your feelings.


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#17 of 33 Old 09-14-2011, 08:45 AM
 
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biologically speaking of course learned.

 

personal experience a bit of both. 

 

for instance i am a natural nurterer. i take care of people well, i have lots of patience and dont get emotionally drained. i knew how to take care of dd as a baby, but did not understand she was a baby and she wasnt personally being mean to me. so i did AP stuff naturally but i was getting mad with my infant for hitting, biting me. my then dh who wasnt good at all with taking care of babies and found it a chore understood that point and helped me see that dd was just trying to figure it out. she didnt know any better. so then i got books and understood the child's perspective. and overnight i became a supermom. just knowing what was going on for dd was such a huge discovery for me. now that dd is older and kinda a little preteenish her dad struggles with her independence whereas i admire that about her. he wants her to fit into this 'role of a child' and i the 'role of a person'. you give me a logical explanation of why you want me to ok u doing that and i will give it to you. sometimes the reason could be because i really, really want to and i accept and she gets her way. however i have seen ex around teenagers and he is magical with them. i hope he can be the same with dd. me on the other hand just dont get teenagers. 

 

however the parent i am is coz i have taken lots of training - not to be a parent but a better parent and it really enhances my parenting. to be able to just simply 'listen' is huge for me. 


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#18 of 33 Old 09-14-2011, 09:55 AM
 
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I also think that for most of us, some parts of parenting come more easily than others. Some parts feel "natural", some parts take a lot of learning. I'd be surprised to find that there's any parent out there who feels equipped to handle everything...every stage of their child's life, every possible challenge that comes along. Most of us are going to hit a point where our gut doesn't know what to do, and we need help. That point can come quite early (prior to the child's birth, in my case!), or maybe for some it takes awhile to show up.

 

Also, I've had the experience of having a clear gut instinct about how things need to look, but still not knowing how to get there. It was very clear to me on all kinds of levels that breastfeeding was the way to go. But actually doing it took a lot of work and a lot of learning, especially since I got a painful breast infection early on. I needed a lot of support, and yes, I had a lot to learn in order to get it working right. I also "followed my gut" when it came to weaning, but I wanted and needed a lot of support on how to do it. I read books, talked to lots of other moms IRL and here on MDC.

 

I think we've evolved as a species such that we are supposed to get a lot of support from others on our parenting journey. That's what's "natural" for us.  Obviously, depending on our individual circumstances, different forms & degrees of support are going to be right for a particular person. And we vary in our ability to create the support networks that we need. But I don't think we can just expect "instinct" to magically pull us through our parenting challenges. We have to reach out to others, connect, share, learn, get support, give support, etc.


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#19 of 33 Old 09-14-2011, 10:25 AM
 
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I think some people are born nurturers whether they ever become parents or not. That is a personality trait and I believe someone can be born with such a trait.

 

I think that parenting is a skill learned from many sources- your church, your parents, your older sibling, the daycare you attended, the couple across the street, the child you babysat as a teenager, movies, books, classes, message boards, and your own children. No one is born knowing how to care for themselves or another human being. It may be learning what you don't want to do as a parent in some cases but the outside influence is there. That is still learning.
 

 


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#20 of 33 Old 09-14-2011, 11:30 AM
 
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I guess I would start by first asking “what is parenting”? It’s a very broad topic. Is it only the ability to birth and keep a baby alive? Is it the ability to raise a child who has certain values and behaviours?

 

I think there are instinctual (and hormonal) aspects of humans to be care takers for other humans and animals, especially babies. So yeah that part is not necessarily learned. But I am not sure that equals actually parenting. And just because you have urge to take of care of something does not mean you have knowledge to succeed at it.

 

I generally believe we learn most things we know and do. We learn them by example from others in our family and community. And learning how parent is a hugely learned by example. Even someone with no care taking or parenting background if confronted with having to care for a child would probably recall back to what their own mother did. And either do it or do the opposite LOL

 

I think people generally turn to books or classes when they want to parent their own children *differently* than they perceive they were parented. And that happens a lot.

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#21 of 33 Old 09-14-2011, 11:58 AM
 
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Learned.

But caring for others, loving others, finding babies cute, all of that is natural. But theres a difference between feelings and skills, intentions and experience. As a parent, i learn something new everyday, and i hone my parenting skills as the years by. But my intentions remain the same, my love is always there.

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#22 of 33 Old 09-15-2011, 10:52 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post

I had a completely screwed up childhood and had to LEARN to be a good parent. I had no instincts, and was baffled at LLL when they said things like "just parent from your heart."  headscratch.gif  I couldn't hear my inner voice with a stethoscope!

 

I think it will be completely different for my DDs, who've had a lovely (though not perfect) childhood and attend a mixed aged school. I think a lot of things will come quite naturally to them, like gentle discipline.

 

This was my experience as well. IME, it has been learned. And I have to say there were good examples of parenting around me, (my best friend's family was like a real-life Brady Bunch, and I spent a lot of time with them to escape my own hell, also my grandparents were wonderful people) so that is how I learned what GOOD parenting was, but when the time came to put it into practice, I was a bloody mess.  Growing up in a domestic war zone meant that I had inadequate or inappropriate coping skills, ridiculous anxiety issues, and tremendous guilt.  And since we all know that parenting means you are more than just the lady that keeps you fed, clean, and sheltered (that I could do well), I had to actively seek out resources to learn how to keep my emotions in check, and really NUTURE a kid.  So after years of therapy and a whole lot of self-reflection, I think my kids and I are going to make it out of this with our psyches intact :)

 

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#23 of 33 Old 09-15-2011, 12:42 PM
 
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I don't have kids yet, but I can already tell you the way I will parent will be drastically different because of the time I've spent reading parenting information.

 

I wonder how primates parent if they themselves were raised in a very different fashion than a primate would naturally be raised. There's probably already been research on it. Anyone know of one?

 

A somewhat relevant story I overheard my friendly and charismatic coworker telling the other day.... When her son was 2 months old, she was baby-sitting someone else's child. I forget how old the other child was, but I'm thinking 3-5 years? Anyway, the older child was watching Kung Fu Panda, and the baby was hanging in some kind of swing. My coworker could tell that, having been influenced by the movie, the older child was tempted to kick the baby. So she kept telling him, "Don't you kick that baby.... Don't you kick that baby!" Then she had to leave the room. (She couldn't remember why when telling the story, but said it was "something necessary," e.g. going to the bathroom.) When she came back, her 2-month-old baby had already been kicked across the room, but fortunately he was totally fine, just sleeping when she checked him out. After confirming that the baby was okay, she beat the other child with a wooden spoon. She later told him, "You know I love you, but I don't want you to grow up like them Columbine kids!"

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#24 of 33 Old 09-15-2011, 02:50 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cyllya View Post

I wonder how primates parent if they themselves were raised in a very different fashion than a primate would naturally be raised. There's probably already been research on it. Anyone know of one?

 

 

 

As I said above -- there are a lot of primates in captivity who were not parented at all, or not parented well.   Heck, they used to use monkeys to do parenting/attachment research -- haven't you seen those awful pictures of the baby rhesus monkeys clinging to the "Wire mother" that at least had soft cloth attached to her, even though the other "wire mother" was the one with the "breast" that offered food?

 

Most of them parent badly when they're put into zoo breeding programs.   Heck, haven't you also seen the commonplace news articles about new "zoo babies?"    They generally are followed up with "The mother has rejected the infant and is refusing to feed it.    Zookeepers have had to remove it to the zoo nursery to ensure its survival."

 

Parenting, for many mammals including humans (and our nearest relatives) is primarily a set of learned behaviors.   Your baseline is what you were raised with, but you can change/supplement/augment that through later experiences, book-learning, etc.


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#25 of 33 Old 09-16-2011, 12:17 AM
 
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What savithny said.  There are enormous amounts of data on primate rearing practices, and the upshot is that the major factor in their ability to parent is how they themselves were parented.  The offspring of securely attached mothers typically parent securely.  The offspring of abusive or neglectful mothers often parent abusively or neglectfully.  Monkeys who were deprived of early contact with other monkeys become completely nonfunctional adults - eg they don't interact socially with other members of the troop, sit in a corner and masturbate for hours, act out aggressively and unpredictably, etc.

 

The abusive-parenting effect has been shown to be transmitted by the behavior (it is not a genetic predisposition) via a series of cross-fostering experiments with rhesus monkeys in Puerto Rico.  Dario Maestropieri is the senior author on that work I believe.


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#26 of 33 Old 09-16-2011, 06:51 AM
 
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Count me in the camp of "learned".  I don't view learning from observation that much differently from learning from books -- except learning from books later in life is much more difficult than naturally soaking up good parenting skills by growing up in a home with good parenting.  Though, being a bibliophile, I do think anybody can learn something of value from a good parenting book.  Things like co-sleeping, breastfeeding, responding to my babies' cries came very naturally to me.  Dealing with a defiant toddler/preschooler did not.  I grew up in a religious authoritarian family with anger management issues, poor emotional coping skills, and general denial of emotional expression and needs.  So I have a ton of parenting books and I've found them very helpful.  They have helped me identify specific things that really affected me as a child that I don't want to carry on to my own children.  I also appreciate the opportunity to gain a new perspective.

 


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#27 of 33 Old 09-16-2011, 06:54 AM
 
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Maybe this is also a nature vs, nurture kind of thing. While I didn't have the worst mother, she wasn't exactly someone I could learn from. I did have a crappy dad and pretty good step dad. I think seeing how hard my step dad tried to parent me correctly made a huge impression on me. Parents should try as hard as they can and always strive to be the best parent they can possibly be. Oh he had some mess ups but it never bothered me since he just kept trying. I never saw my dad try, and my mom grew up with the children should be seen and not heard mentality. That was her environment and how she learned to be a mother.

I wanted to be a mother so badly so that I could love someone the right way. And yet I fail in so many ways. I'm constantly being nagged by the Old way of thinking and trying so desperately to shed those learned behaviors. DH, surprises himself everyday. He had minimal contact with his parents, his needs were met but they didn't interact much. I've found him sitting at the dining table getting a make over or out back building mud ponds with the kids. This behavior may have been learned by watching other dads play with their kids, or maybe it's his instincts that it's the right way to go. He didn't like the lack of interaction, and he knew that he didn't want his kids to feel so lonely in a house full of so many. Did he learn to be a good father? Or was it in him to do what he wanted done for himself?

Either way, some parts were instinctual for me, like making sure they were fed, clean and clothed. However the real mothering came in when I had to learn to be patient and empathetic.

I checked other... and I'm more confused now then when I started my response...
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#28 of 33 Old 09-16-2011, 07:05 AM
 
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I do believe there is some biology/instinct involved.  But there is also so much that can interfere with that, and humans have emotion and reason and our particular human relationships that are involved as well.  So mostly I believe that parenting is a learned skill.

 

My mother didn't learn from her parents, because her mother's parenting was crap and her dad was an absentee father.  So mom learned a lot of stuff on her own, after she became a parent.  I did learn excellent parenting from my parents, and I also learned from their mistakes.  I am deliberately teaching my own children what good parenting is, not just assuming that mine is "good', but apologizing for my mistakes and pointing out to them where I messed up as a parent.

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#29 of 33 Old 09-16-2011, 10:23 AM
 
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you know there is so much other involved. the learning part.

 

one is the personality that you connect with best. for instance my father did not have the great parenting skill sets my mom had. yet to me my dad is more a 'good parent' than my mom was and i feel i feel this way because personality wise my dad and i got along. it was the same with my bro and mom. they got along better too.

 

i notice that about dd and me vs dd and her dad. we get along sooo well coz we relate so much to each other. our likes and dislikes are very similar. 

 

i think by our opinion and the one we talk most about i am discovering how much of it is really learnt. 

 

we all have our personality traits, some are foodies and for some food is just nourishment to be devoured fast or some are into sports and some arent... so some are 'into' being a parent, and some arent (and unfortunately the only sure shot way to NOT have kids is to not have sex or somehow do away with the uterus or fallopian tube).

 

i am originally from asia. a mostly children friendly and huge extended friends and family support country. no one really pays attention to their children or parenting as we do here. there is no need to talk about it or look for books or constantly self assess if you are doing a good job. its coz like showering its a part of life that you just do. and you have trusted wise members around you to guide you. so it doesnt really matter if the mom/dad is a bad parent. its because they are not the only parents. a child has so many others to turn to (unfortunately in urban areas that's breaking down a lot). and so not having super parents is not so traumatic out here. however parents are reeled in if they are loooked at being neglectful. 

 

so much of my parenting or realisation or figuring out my own philosophy has come from books since i had my dd. even though i talk to my mom on the phone - its still not the same. 


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#30 of 33 Old 09-16-2011, 07:20 PM
 
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Parenting comes naturally to some people--meaning the nurturing, present, empathetic part of it. You can have all that instinct, but still not fully understand things about discipline or how best to teach your children certain things. Even the most instinctual parents need to learn about the specifics of handling the day to day raising of children.

Our reactions are based on our own experiences just as much as they are on our instincts, and I don't care who you are, your childhood was not perfect. You learned some unhealthy things, and in general it takes more than instinct to correct those.
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