What Can I Do as a Parent?
As a parent, you have a pivotal role in shaping a culture of partnership. The early years of life are critical not only to the quality of our children’s lives but also to the kind of society we all live in.
Neuroscience shows that more than 1 million new neural connections are formed every second in the first three years of life! Relationships with a child’s primary caregivers directly affect the type and quality of these connections. Caring and connected parent/child relationships are major factors in shaping how we relate to the world, including our capacity to empathize, learn, imagine, and create.
The quality of parenting we support as a society also directly affects our economy and our democracy.
Parenting and Our Economy:
- Domination-style parenting causes childhood stresses that often lead to behavioral, cognitive, emotional, and physical health issues that are enormously costly to society.
- Domination-style parenting has been linked to violence and all its economic and social costs, as children act out the dynamics of abuse and power-over normalized in domination system families.
- Children raised in domination-system families are not well-prepared to take on the jobs available in our 21st century economy. The age of robotics and AI requires uniquely human capacities: care and empathy, creativity, teamwork,
and appreciation for diversity.
- Studies demonstrate that up-front investments in high-quality early childhood experiences — parental leave, parenting education, and other supports for the women and men who care for children — pay huge dividends over time.
Parenting and Our Democracy:
- Studies show that early childhood experiences and observations strongly affect the kinds of citizens we become and the kinds of leaders we choose.
- Brains shaped by domination-parenting tend to prefer authoritarian leaders who wield power over others in the top-down, fear-based ways they experienced in childhood.
- By contrast, brains shaped by partnership parenting are drawn to leaders who empower others and champion peace, justice, and enabling people to develop fully and contribute to the common good.
- Healthy democracy requires citizens who empathize with others, see issues from more than one angle, and conceptualize relationships of interdependence and mutuality. These capacities are fostered by partnership parenting.
Access academic studies, articles and guides that support partnership parenting, and learn how we can invest in parents and early childhood:
Caring and Connected Parenting Guide
Download the Caring and Connected Parenting Guide, available in English and Spanish.
Evolved Nest, founded by Darcia Narvaez, Professor of Psychology Emerita, Psychology Department, University of Notre Dame, focuses on parenting from conception to elderhood and the importance of community support for families. Evolved Nest is a project of KindredMedia.org.
Childcare Checklist: Nesting Conditions for Children in Child Care was developed by Darcia Narvaez, PhD, Angela Kurth Elbert, PhD, and Mary Tarsha, MEd, MA. The Child Care Center Checklist has been created to help parents assess how well a child care center aligns with principles and values of partnership parenting and with the elements of healthy childcare outlined in The Evolved Nest.
Getting Back on Track to Being Human, by Darcia Narvaez, PhD.
The Interdisciplinary Journal of Partnership Studies
The Evolved Nest Nurtures the First Partnership Relationship,by Darcia Narvaez, PhD.
Bringing Partnership Home: A Model of Family Transformation by Julie de Azevedo Hanks. The Interdisciplinary Journal of Partnership Studies.
It Takes a Village: Evaluating the Feasibility and Acceptability of a Community-Based Parenting Program by Jeana Holt, Amy Mosely, Vanessa Baldwin, Linda Barnes, Charlotte Muhammad, S. Michele Cohen. The Interdisciplinary Journal of Partnership Studies.
Excerpts from Family Structure and Family Violence by Laura Ann McClosky and Riane Eisler for Encyclopedia of Violence, Peace, and Conflict (2008).
Valuing Fathers and Families by Riane Eisler, June 17, 2007.
What’s a Mother's Worth by Riane Eisler for AlterNet, May 11, 2007.
Spare the Rod: Challenging Traditions of Violence
by Riane Eisler in Yes Magazine, Winter 2005.
The American Family: Building a Foundation for Real Democracy and Freedom by Riane Eisler, Frances Kissling, Center for American Progress, July 1, 2005.