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A version of this chapter appears in the Handbook of Resilience in Children edited - page 3 / 18





3 / 18

R. Brooks:  The Power of Parenting                                                                              

disorganization, ineffective parenting, stressors, parental depression, and others

increase in comparison with protective or resilience factors.  Hence, family

protective mechanisms and individual resiliency processes should be addressed in

addition to reducing risk factors. . . .  Resiliency research suggests that parental

support in helping children develop dreams, goals, and purpose in life is a major

protective factor.  (p. 458)

Pinker (2002) notes, “Childrearing is above all an ethical responsibility.  It is not okay for parents to beat, humiliate, deprive, or neglect their children because those are awful things for a big strong person to do to a small helpless one” (p. 398).  Similarly, Harris writes, “If you don’t think the moral imperative is a good enough reason to be nice to your kid, try this one: Be nice to your kid when he’s young so that he will be nice to your when you’re old” (p. 342).

Pinker (2002) poignantly captures the moral dimension of parenting practices in the following statement:

There are well-functioning adults who still shake with rage when recounting the

cruelties their parents inflicted on them as children.  There are others who moisten

up in private moments when recalling a kindness or sacrifice made for their

happiness, perhaps one that the mother or father has long forgotten.  If for no

other reason, parents should treat their children well to allow them to grow up

with such memories.  (p. 399)

Given the complexity of a child’s development, it is unlikely that a specific number will ever be assigned as a “parent’s share” or percentage of that development.   As Deater-Deckard, Ivy, and Lynch (2004) wisely observe, “The question is no longer whether and to what degree genes or environments matter, but how genes and environments work together to produce resilient children and adults” (p. this volume).

They conclude:

. . . resilience is a developmental process that involves individual differences

in children’s attributes (e.g., temperament, cognitive abilities) and environments

(e.g., supportive parenting, learning enriched classrooms).  The genetic and

environmental influences underlying these individual differences are correlated,

and they interact with each other to produce the variation that we see between

children, and over time within children. . . .  It is imperative that scientists and

practitioners recognize that these gene-environment transactions are probabilistic

in their effects, and the transactions and their effects can change with shifts in

genes or environments.  (p.   )

While researchers and clinicians may debate the extent to which particular parenting practices impact on children in specified areas, it seems that all agree that parents make a significant difference either in the day-to-day and/or future lives of their children.  We concur with this position and believe that it is essential that we identify both those parental practices that nurture the skills, positive outlook, and stress hardiness necessary for children to manage an increasingly complex and demanding world as well as those that do harm to children.  We must search for consistent ways of raising children that will increase the likelihood of their experiencing happiness, success in school, contentment in their lives, and satisfying relationships.  If children are to realize these goals they must develop the inner strength to deal competently and successfully, day after day, with the challenges and pressures they encounter (Brooks & Goldstein, 2001).  

The Characteristics of a Resilient Mindset

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