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.



Make the scientific, economic and political case for investment in parents and early childhood:

Download the Caring and Connected Parenting Guide, published by the Center for Partnership Studies

Evolved Nest
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.

Also see:
The Evolved Nest Nurtures the First Partnership Relationship, by Darcia Narvaez, PhD.

Getting Back on Track to Being Human, by Darcia Narvaez, PhD.
The Interdisciplinary Journal of Partnership Studies

These webinars, articles and Fast Fact data sheets help make the economic and political case for investing in parenting and early childhood:

Webinar: Kate Duva: Power to the Parents, Feb. 2017

Webinar: Behind Our Gender Masks: Empowering Young Women and Men to Express their Full Humanity

Webinar: Raising Caring Men: How Can #MeToo Bring a Revolution in Masculinities?

Article: Bringing Partnership Home: A Model of Family Transformation by Julie de Azevedo Hanks

Caring Economy Fast Fact Sheet: Children: The Nation’s Best Investment

Caring Economy Fast Fact Sheet: Caring Policies Benefit Fathers