As a parent, you’re constantly afraid of screwing up your kids. And it’s no wonder. From day one of having your family you are told how to be, what to do, and especially, what not to do. Haven’t we all been mom-shamed (or dad-shamed!) from time to time?
But how much does our parenting style really affect our kids? Do we really have to worry every time we mess up as parents?
How kids are raised matters less than you think
A recent review made by a couple of Swedish personality researchers shows that we really don’t have to worry that much as parents. In fact, upbringing and parenting style is shown to have minimal effect on your child’s personality. This is the conclusion of an analysis of more than 200 earlier twin studies from all over the world.
The cake chart – The pieces that build personality
So what does build the personality of your little one? The results of the study above show that 50% of our personality is genetically determined and the rest is a result of external factors. Here are the main aspects that help form a person’s personality.
The parents’ genes (50%)
We all know that genes determine how we look. The baby might get the dad’s nose, the mom’s eyes and meet somewhere in the middle height wise. However, the research also shows that some personality traits are controlled up to 50% by the genetic mix. Is your child as stubborn as you are? Wants to talk aaallll the time, just like their mom? Yep, their characteristics may be inherited from you the parents.
Family and upbringing (5%)
The above-mentioned study showed that only 5% of someones personality can be derived from their upbringing. In other words, maybe you shouldn’t worry as much about making those small mistakes from time to time. Also meaning you can ignore more of that so called parenting advice that feels more like mom-shaming. Your kid will be alright anyway!
External social life
Who you meet in life has an impact on who you become. Petri Kajonius, one of the researchers behind the study above, says that you meeting with friends, teachers, and others can have a greater impact on your personality than your upbringing. However, the researchers don’t know exactly who – or what – has an impact. It might be the cool kid in fourth grade, or that amazing teacher in English class. Either way it makes a difference.
The attachment theory is based on the idea that a baby is constantly searching for ways to build a connection with its parents. Parents, on the other hand, are evolutionarily programmed to answer to the baby’s needs. When parents succeed to meet the needs of their baby, the attachment gets stronger and stronger. According to the theory, this attachment will later play a part in the child’s relationship patterns and behaviours. However, it’s important to remember that all parents – and babies – are different. How – and in what way – you build a connection between parent and child is completely individual to you.
According to Pia Risholm Mothander, a psychologist and well-known writer within the area of child psychology, it’s not only attachment that plays a part. Temperament does as well. The genetic mix mentioned above determines where you are on the temperament scale. Some people can easily boil with anger whereas others are as cool as a cucumber. The common factor is that we’re all born with a temperament. Feelings and emotions can be confusing for kids (and for adults too from time to time). It’s our responsibility to teach our children to work with their temperament and make them understand why they feel the way they do.
Interests and hobbies
Whilst growing up, a baby will start showing more and more interest in certain things and hobbies. Henrik Larsson, a twin scientist, and professor at Karolinska Institutet, states that the older a child gets, the more they will actively search for certain environments. This will also play an important role in their personality. For example, if the child likes action they might be a thrill-seeking adult in the future.
Do parenting your way
We know that parenting is hard. There’s no secret recipe on “how to be a parent”. It’s all about trial and error. You will make some mistakes from time to time, your kid might scream and shout when you tell them no and there will (most likely) be tears. However, if you provide love, care, and family time, you don’t have to worry. At the end of the day, it’s all about finding your own way of parenting.