Differences in Parent/Child Relationship: an evolutionary approach

In the past few decades the world evolved very rapidly and, logically, that affects children and their parents too.

If we look backward, children used to have to grow up way faster than they do now, becoming independent at a much younger age. However, even when we’re looking at older cultures, we can spot something very curious: even then, grandmothers had a major role in child care, leading us to think about how important they always have been throughout human evolution.

As a species, we have the longest childhood out of all beings we know, and lately, it seems to have become even longer. We are more and more dependent on our parents for more and more years. Why? Well, comparing ourselves with other animals, there are a few things to keep in mind. The average lifetime of a species seems to have a great impact on the length of their childhood, for example. Thinking of a species that have lots of children, with rapid growth, they’re usually species where most of the young do not reach the state of adulthood. In our case, it’s quite the opposite, and even more-so: we demand a great deal of investment.

Another important fact is the brain size. A bigger brain, that provides the animal with more skills is, in the great majority of times, equivalent to a bigger childhood, which is not that surprising since they need more time to learn all of the skills they can muster, so they end up needing their parents care and guidance for a longer period of time. Seems unfair perhaps, but, this learning will be fundamental for the evolution of the species.

Talking about our species, this is especially true. Our children need us and even after becoming independent adults, we still need our parents for so many things at times! Sometimes, it seems like we’re never truly independent, but in fact, we are independent way before we realize that, we just need some help from time to time, due the fact that there are so many skills to learn, that it’s impossible to know them all.

The human being is always changing and this change occurs really quickly because our world changes in the blink of an eye and each generation has new problems to face, new skills to learn and sometimes a completely different environment they’ll have to grow up in. So, as easily as we can learn what our parents can teach us, it’s even more easily that we try to find new solutions for emerging problems and new uses for tools. But these things require time and patience.

With all those changes, adaptation is the most valuable lesson a parent can give their child, and personally, I think that’s one of the reasons for the decrease of an authoritarian parenthood. Parents more and more, are aware that they don’t know everything, so instead of telling their children how to do it, they help them find their own way to a solution that works for them. This is the best way we have found to get our children to face the future without fear.

Attachment and Caregivers

Most of the studies about this are made with mothers, however, with women’s emancipation, many children have different caregivers during the day, sometimes not related to them or not even from the same culture.

A child will develop attachment for different people, with different personalities, points of view and reactions and that will have an important impact on the said child. They learn in different ways, from different people and that will have a reflection on them as human beings.

Also, nowadays, our children receive lots of information from so many different sources. Parents are no longer the only model. That will allow them to observe and realize how confident the adults are about something and compare different reactions in different people.

According to Gopnik “from a very early age, they make judgments about whether other people are credible and reliable” and that includes parents. This means that as parents we might have a harder situation educating them, forcing us to be more open and talk with our children instead of merely spouting “that’s it, because I said so”, as our parents or grandparents used to say to us.

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Changing Groups: K. Lewin

Changing is hard. For everyone. Under any circumstance. But, it’s possible and Kurt Lewin tried to show us how.

Behind every group, no matter its goal or how it was created, there is a mentality, a culture. This will unite the group and its elements and it’s not easily changed, but sometimes it’s absolutely necessary to do so.

Lewin studied the way changing could be practiced and how important it might be, in everyday work with groups and communities.

 

Method

According to Lewin there is a very specific method to provide an efficient change within a group. You need to increase the forces there are favorable to the changing, or, on the other hand, decrease the forces that are opposite to the change.

It will produce a certain unbalance inside the group and the search for the previous balance will be the catalyst for change.

Lewin considered that decreasing the opposite forces would have a more effective result, since that would provide less tension inside the group, decreasing, in a way, a more aggressive or emotional reaction from its members.

Phases of Social Changing

So, based on all of this, Lewin established that there are three phases that occurring while working on changing a social behavior.

Unfreezing

It consists in a non-directive discussion, until reaching a breaking point in order to promote a new behavior.

Moving

The changing phase itself.

Freezing

After you reach the desired behavior, it becomes necessary to keep reinforcing it, so it can be maintained.

K. LEWIN And the GROUP’S DYNAMIC

Kurt Lewin is universally recognized as the founder of modern social psychology, but his work started way before that.

As many others before him, Lewin began by studying the individual’s behavior, but as his research was evolving, he’d rather study the group phenomenon itself and its behavior. He saw the individual psyche from a structuralist perspective, in which, each person is part of an environment that happens within a group.

He had many influences from the Gestalt School, so Lewin believed that “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” which, of course, influenced his work.

So, in his theory, he choose to pick some physics concepts (such as tension, valency, strength, force field, barrier, etc.) as a way to explain what tends to happen inside a group. Below, I present some key concepts, that will hopefully help you understand his theory a little more.

Group Dynamic Key Concepts, according to Lewin

Cohesion

This is an important concept within a group, is the force that keeps its elements together and fights the opposite forces, that are trying to disintegrated it. At this point is where the relationship between “me” and “us” appears.

Group’s Communication

There are several instances of communication present within the group and among different groups, pressed by social reality and natural evolution of the group.

Group’s Decision

This is what we call social status quo. It’s a dynamic process that goes through many phases: the changing desire, the difficulty found in its realization (since the behavior that should be changed is too settled in the whole group), and, in the end, the relative efficiency of the changing.

It’s really important in many fields of action, such as, for example, trying to change eating habits.

Leadership

Lewin defined 3 styles of leadership and it had practical repercussions in the way some groups are commanded, such as, school or within some companies.

The three styles are the autocratic leader (you have an authoritarian leader, that makes all the decisions by himself, without consulting the group), the liberal leader (a person who doesn’t give much guidance to the group and is generally very permissive) and, finally, the democratic leader (he doesn’t command the group, instead working with all of the elements, trying to find the best option going towards the greater good of the group).

Group’s Functioning

Here stand the phenomenons of interaction and interdependency within the group, latter one being sort of the ‘energy and forces’ system that actually makes the group act.

Each member does not really see himself as a motor for change to occur, which is in fact a way of defending himself and minimizing the impact of his actions. This is the main point to work on, when we actually do need to change something.