Parenting Skills Add to Physical Health and Longevity

Sir Michael Marmot, who directs the Institute of Health Equity at University College London and is president of the World Medical Association, published an article in Scientific American this week reviewing research that sheds light on the importance of parents’ ability to help kids develop socially and emotionally. In fact, he cites research studies that find that economic status is less a factor in physical health and longevity than are parents’ feelings of competence and support in helping their children develop. He writes


To improve health, we have to stop blaming the sufferers and look not only at lack of money but lack of other resources. My research, and that of other scientists, points the finger at social and psychological disempowerment, a personal sense of marginalization in society, as a factor with greater effect than lack of money alone. When people feel deprived relative to those around them, stress rises, and then health suffers. Fortunately, the research also indicates that interventions with parents—improving parenting skills, for example—profoundly empowers their children. This, in turn, appears tied to a lifetime of better health.

He provides powerful evidence that finding helpful learning supports and pursuing skill building while parenting can contribute to both parents’ and children’s health and sense of well-being. Check out his article entitled “Better Parenting Skills May Break the Poverty-Disease Connection.” And for a list of organizations and sites to bookmark that provide ongoing supports to parents in addition to this site, check out the parent resources section.



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