Families, communities, and nations are strengthened for generations when parents show affection to their children and nurture them. Most people understand that a warm and affectionate relationship between parents and children brings happiness and security to the family as a whole. However, a recent study shows that these nurturing actions are instrumental in the children’s wellbeing when they are middle-aged adults.
As published by Deseret News, an online survey completed by Harvard University shows that the above statement to be true. The study was used to gather information from a large group of people with the object being to learn how much parental warmth the adults felt during their childhood and youth.
Warmth was measured not just by affection, but also nurturing, teaching and communication [by asking six questions] ….
Among those who reported growing up with parental warmth, the study found higher levels of well-being across social, emotional and psychological dimensions…. The findings are published in the journal Social Science & Medicine.
Among the findings of the study, participants who enjoyed “higher parental warmth” were “21% More likely to have high flourishing scores, 21% More likely to have higher emotional well-being, 19% More likely to have high psychological well-being [and] 13% More likely to have high social well-being.” They were also “18% Less likely to have depression, 22% Less likely to use marijuana [and] 17% Less likely to use other illicit drugs.”
The findings of this scientific study show the importance of parental affection and nurturing. However, prophets and apostles have counseled parents for many years about the importance of loving and caring for their children. In September 1995 the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints presented “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” Paragraph 6 of the Proclamation declares:
Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children…. Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives – mothers and fathers – will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.
That paragraph plainly states the responsibilities of parents and issues a warning about being held accountable. However, the Proclamation was not the first time that parents were counseled to love and nurture their children. President Howard W. Hunter (1907-95) says that fathers should be involved in the care, nurture, and teaching of their children. “A righteous father protects his children with his time and presence in their social, educational, and spiritual activities and responsibilities.”
In the October 1942 General Conference, the following statement from the First Presidency (Heber J. Grant, J. Reuben Clark, Jr., and David O. McKay) was read by J. Reuben Clark, Jr. “Motherhood thus becomes a holy calling, a sacred dedication for carrying out the Lord’s plans, a consecration of devotion to the uprearing and fostering, the nurturing in body, mind, and spirit, of [their children].”
Now we have findings from a scientific study that proves the counsel from prophets and apostles to be true. When parents invest time and love in caring for and teaching their family, their children will have greater wellbeing when they are adults. So parents can strengthen their family for generations as well as their community and nation simply by being affectionate with and nurturing their children.