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... neurons will grow and connect with other neurons in the system ... These systems, activated by repeated experiences, provide the foundation for the brain’s organization and functioning throughout life. The absence of appropriate activation results in the lack of development or the disappearance of these connections. (Reiner Foundation, 1997 The First Years Last Forever . Pamphlet printed and distributed in Canada by The Canadian Institute of Child Health)
... young children are deeply affected by their early experiences. Their relationships with parents and other important caregivers… These experiences actually affect the way children’s brains become wired .( The First Years Last Forever )
These are the good experiences with people and stimulating activities that ‘zap’ brain connections into place. It’s called ‘brain wiring,’ and you and your child do it together.
(Hassen, 1999. Parenting with the Zap Family , Get Set for Life, Making the Most of Your Child’s First Years)
‘ Wiring’ can be good or bad. Repeated positive experiences ... make positive healthy connections. Repeated negative experiences make negative and emotionally unhealthy connections. ( Parenting With the Zap Family )
Mothers in my study were convinced of their ability and responsibility to control children’s cognitive outcomes.
“ I am constantly aware that everything I do affects how their brains are going to develop. So how I talk to them, whether or not I respond right away or wait a few minutes, whether or not I am tuned to their cues and their different cries and what is happening with them emotionally as well as physically ... I am constantly questioning what kind of impact my parenting is having on their development.”
“ ...he is our focus on everything. We just got his report card note and I will tell you that it shows. Because his report card was ... I started to cry because it was phenomenal. We work hard at it.”
“ You have to balance things, …. weigh everything … you have to read ….. you have to be sensitive to every single thing they say, things they do, their body language… You are completely responsible for a life that is going to go somewhere after you are done doing your parenting thing. You have to be 100% on the game, all the time. And you have to love doing it because if you don’t, they know.”
“ You are more supposed to nurture this being and it is so important to do it right and make sure that they grow up and they are as smart as they could possibly be and they are .. they do something important with their lives.”
“ The pressure is there, just by the way that parents talk. I try to resist it as much as possible and do what my husband and I think is best. For example … I used to take my daughter once a year to a theatre production but that was because I like that and I want her to be exposed to it. Or music and things like that. So I try not to succumb to the pressure, but it is true, that the way people talk about it, if you don’t do all these activities with your kids you feel guilty about it.”
“ I feel there is a cycle of your kid has got to be signed up for this or for that. I think it is pressure from the parents that we do to ourselves - that we allow in. ... I feel like we are kind of creating a higher expectation level of what we need to be doing to be a good parent. ... It’s a cycle we are in and, I don’t know, it just isn’t supportive.”
(Being a good mother means) “putting your child totally before yourself. When you become a parent, you are no longer a person.”
(My daughter’s friend) “is in dance lesions and she does drama things and they go to all these concerts and … she is going to French classes in the fall. … I keep on thinking, what am I doing, am I doing the right thing? … I definitely have moments of, oh, maybe I should have done that or maybe … we thought about different schools and I thought maybe I should send her to a bilingual school. Yeah, there is a lot of that.”
(The day I die I hope to) “never have not done something as a parent that I should have done that I knew about.”