By Katie Mlodzienski
We surround ourselves everyday with people we hold relationships with. These relations could be academic, professional, friendly, romantic, or anything in between. But our first relationships are most often created within our family, and these relations are arguably some of the most important.
While there are many different types of families, this article will be focusing on families with children, and how the relationships within this structure benefit both the caretaker and child.
Benefits to Children
Growing up is, in a word, scary. The world around us is so complex and remarkable, which makes it quite difficult to understand. That’s where family comes in.
Family creates the building blocks a child needs in order to go out and face the world. As a child is forming their own sense of self, the attitudes and the values of the parents will influence the child. For example, the first relationships we form with our family sets the standards we seek when forming new relationships. If family members treat their child with respect, offer good communication, and act positively, then the child will also seek these qualities out in their other relationships. Spending time with family has also been shown to make the child more sociable, leading to more relationships and more happiness in their future.
Family is also beneficial for the child’s self-confidence. Growing up in a stable, unified household gives the child the ability to go out and face the world without the worry that they won’t have a support system to back them up. Not only do these family qualities influence their child’s self-confidence, they have also been shown to create better communication skills.
Lastly, parents and guardians hold a great influence on their child’s education. Parents can help prepare their children for school in early childhood, leading to more success in the classroom. Additionally, parents can help make sure their child stays on the right path by ensuring that homework is completed and good grades are encouraged.
All in all, having a child grow up in a family environment leads to them seeking out better relationships, have better communication and social skills, are better prepared for school, and helps them get ready to experience success in their lives.
Benefits to Parents and Guardians
While it is not at all necessary for couples to have children, people who decide to have children open up whole new doors for themselves. Having something in your life to raise and cherish gives a whole new meaning to who you are. Not only do parents help children grow into adulthood, but children can help parents or guardians grow into a better person.
Being a parent or guardian means being responsible for a whole other being. It is a 24/7 job that requires a person to care for the needs of someone else and be unselfish, patient, and loving. Parenting also gives the opportunities to find out things people never even knew about themselves, whether it’s that they can’t stand the sound of certain kid’s toys or that they are more capable of love than they ever imagined.
Parenting can also enrich a person’s life. It forces people to look beyond the boundaries that their life had previously held in order to care for another life. Children are filled with wonder. Having never experienced the world before, they look at everything through rose-tinted glasses. Having such an outlook on life can rub off onto the parents, causing them to see things in a new way and enjoy life in a way they have not felt before.
Children can also be one of life’s greatest teachers. This can be done indirectly, such as having to research to answer the endless questions of why the sky is blue or how fish can breathe underwater! However, it can also be done when a person’s limits are being tested. Dealing with a fussy child teaches their caretaker how to be patient and how to use discipline in a constructive way. Having so much going on helps teach someone how to prioritize things and figure out what is truly important to them.
Several studies have also shown that parents experience several health benefits that non-parents don’t. For example, one study found that couples with children have considerably lower blood pressure when compared to couples without children. The lead researcher stated, “while caring for children may include daily hassles, deriving a sense of meaning and purpose from life’s stress has been shown to be associated with better health outcomes”. Researchers have also found that having children also leads to better mental health, no matter how much it seems like your kids drive you crazy. In this study, over 1,000 senior citizens filled out a mental health questionnaire. On average, seniors who never raised children scored about 6 points lower on the questionnaire than the seniors who did have children. These findings led to the conclusion that having kids can increase people’s satisfaction and emotional well-being.
On a similar note, several studies have also found that raising children can increase people’s happiness. A study with over 200,000 participants found that couples who had one to three children and were over the age of 40 were significantly happier than childless couples. After age 50, couples with any number of children were found to be happier than couples without children. According to the study’s lead researcher, this suggests that “children may be a long-term investment in happiness”.
As a caretaker, raising a child can lead to a greater appreciation for the world, lessons on qualities like patience, and can lead to better physical and emotional health.
Having a family is beneficial in so many ways and for so many reasons. Family helps strengthen their child’s abilities and qualities, while children show and teach parents things that they might never have even considered.
Everyone deserves a family, and that family is there to bring out the best in everyone.