Childhood is that special time of swings, slides and baby photos that embarrass you for the rest of your life. Like those cute pictures, what happens at home tends to have a lifelong impact on children, whether it is the fighting style of their parents (let’s call it marital arts), or how many dinners they shared as a family, and even how much dreaded housework the kids were forced to do.
Presenting the domestic omens of future success:
Fight the good fight
It might sound surprising, but parents who can make war as well as peace produce better adjusted children than those who choose not to fight at all.
Specifically, in a climate of mild to moderate conflict combined with spousal support, compromise and positive emotions, fights actually make children feel happier as they are reassured that their parents can work things out.
Through these fights children also learn better social skills, self-esteem, and emotional security which can later translate into better grades, and even more success in a career.
Paradoxically, children actually find it harder to adjust when the parents avoid a conflict (by giving in or by not discussing it) because the kids still sense something’s wrong and feel stressed, but cannot put their finger on the source.
An Education in Housework
It’s the responsibility everyone ducks, but housework is really a golden opportunity to prepare kids for their future careers, relationships and independent lives.
According to former Stanford dean Julie-Lythcott Haims, housework teaches kids important life lessons, such as awareness that work needs to be done, and the need to chip in as a part of the group.
The very tediousness of keeping house also makes them better team players at work, as suffering (whether over toilets, a sink or a hot stove), allows kids to recognise when other people are struggling. Being used to contributing for the group also translates to a more proactive approach in the office as they tend to be more automatic about working out what to do rather than waiting for instructions.
When Mom also brings home the bacon, she brings benefits for her children – both boys and girls. A huge international study found the absence of a do-it-all mom at home meant the housework was divided up, with sons in the U.S. spending an average of 7.5 more hours providing childcare and 25 more minutes on housework per week.
Daughters benefitted the most by receiving a boost in career and educational prospects: they were more likely to have a job, to work in a supervisory role, plus they earned a higher salary and finished more years of education.
Together at the Table
The family that eats together, stays together – and gives kids unlikely benefits too, as an OECD study found. Students who did not eat with their parents regularly were noticeably more likely to skip classes, and those who did not dine with their folks at least twice a week were 40% more likely to be overweight. By contrast those who shared dinner regularly (five or more times a week) produced kids with less alcohol problems, who ate healthier, did better at school, and enjoyed closer family ties.
It’s impossible to predict how anyone will turn out based on what happened to them in their childhood, but with these strong indicators in mind, you might have a slightly better picture of why some of your peers behave the way they do.
By Vincent Tan