Thursday, February 28, 2008

That's not what he meant...

This morning BJ was leaving for work, and Mary Grace said, "Where you goin', Dad?"

"I'm going to work, Mary Grace, so I can put eggs on your plate, and a roof over your head, and guys in your bed..."

She calls her stuffed animals "guys," of course the idea of actual guys in his daughter's bed is enough to make BJ turn purple with rage. I just laughed as he sputtered, "She knows what you meant."


Interesting notes from my friend Dr. Dave (a psychologist). I've googled and I can't find anything I understand on the subject, so we're just going to have to take his word for it, but he says that researchers have found neurons (brain cells) in human heart and intestinal tissue. So, he says, when people have said that you "think with your heart," or that you should "trust your gut," there's really something to that! Fascinating. He says that the neurons found are part of the autonomic nervous system - the system that controls unconscious processes like breathing, heart rate, and digestion, and that researches think that these cells might play a role in intuition. Isn't that amazing?

The other interesting thing we talked about is that the most recent research in child development shows that teaching a child to help is the most important thing you can teach her. Research shows that across all measurements - social, educational, emotional, etc. - kids who are raised to help others, and to enjoy helping others, do better than kids who aren't raised to help. It can be as simple as helping to clear the table, and other chores around the house, when they're small. Of course, as kids get older and more capable, you want to encourage them to help in more complex, more far reaching ways. He said, though, that if there is only one thing you plan to teach your kids, teaching them to help should be the thing you focus on.

Mary Grace already loves to feed Max. That's her "chore." She also likes to take the ketchup, butter, etc. back to the fridge from the dinner table. Without knowing about this research, BJ and I have taken to calling her our "big helper" (especially where Claire was concerned - we've had her "help" with diaper changes, etc. from the beginning so she wouldn't feel left out when Claire came along). I guess we're just instinctively uber-parents. Either that, or it proves that even a broken clock is right twice a day.

The other interesting thing we talked about was how long it takes this sort of research to filter down to actual parents - and he said that it takes 20 years! He said that he'll read articles in popular sources, like Parents Magazine, for example, that cite "research" and he will think, "We've known about that since the '80s." Isn't that sad? I wonder how long it takes in other disciplines for cutting edge research to filter down to popular practice. I know in aerospace it's a long time, because a lot of the latest stuff is classified (for obvious reasons). But in parenting, none of it should be classified. Maybe we need to figure out a way to speed up that process, so that interested parents, like us, can get a hold of this information before we're grandparents.

Although, to be honest, going with my heart and my gut has been working for me, so far. I guess now we know why.

(I'll keep looking for further information on both of these items, as soon as I figure out what to google.)

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