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the stress of the first year

They say that one's true self only shows when under extreme conditions - low sleep, high stress, big stakes. All the rest of the time there's a veneer of what you want others to see, layered on top of your true self.

Theory: The stress and pain of the first year of raising a child — low sleep, long irrational crying bouts, that sort of thing —' bring about this state in parents. Children, exposed to their parents' true, stressful, selves in the first year, learn their most basic behaviors in this time, how to react to stress. This time therefore passes on more information from parent to child than a less traumatic parenting experience would.

Could the parental stress of the first year of raising a child give the species an advantage over others, in terms of long-term intelligence, due to the ability to pass on more information from generation to generation?

There's something there. I bet someone's written or researched on it, but... maybe not.

Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
firstfrost
Mar. 23rd, 2007 03:58 am (UTC)
They say that one's true self only shows when under extreme conditions - low sleep, high stress, big stakes. All the rest of the time there's a veneer of what you want others to see, layered on top of your true self.

I think if I really believed that my "true self" was the stressed-out, unhappy, cranky person that no sleep and high stress brings out in me, I would find life a much more depressing place. You're defining (for most people, at least, for whom stress is not an improvement) true self == worst self, and I categorically reject that claim.
crs
Mar. 23rd, 2007 11:33 am (UTC)
I'm just saying that it's easy to have good decision-making skills when you're rested and warm and fed.

It's handling the stressful situations, making good choices when under fire, that distinguishes one's character.
(Deleted comment)
firstfrost
Mar. 23rd, 2007 01:09 pm (UTC)
Well, sure, if you assume that stress makes everyone worse, then the people who are still good when they're worse are better than the ones who aren't. It's the assertion that the "with bonus worseness" state is the "real" person that I don't agree with.
remcat
Mar. 23rd, 2007 12:39 pm (UTC)
Counter-theory:
The first year of parenting is significantly less stressful to parents living in evolutionarily typical close-kin tribes. In such situations, babies are almost constantly held and carried, nursed when they need it (sometimes by women other than mom), and co-sleep with someone -- thus decreasing irrational crying, and providing more rest for everyone. Even a truly cranky baby (perhaps sick?) would be passed around, sharing out the cranky-baby-duty among more than two adults.

Also, I believe the first year is most stressful for first-time parents -- especially for parents with little or no practical experience with young babies. This too is an unnatural situation. It's ridiculous to learn how to parent on one's own babies -- one should learn by practicing with other people's babies. Also, there should be plenty of experienced baby-people around who can say helpful things so one doesn't have to invent the wheel from scratch.
coraline
Mar. 23rd, 2007 01:01 pm (UTC)
amen
lokiect
Mar. 23rd, 2007 12:44 pm (UTC)
hm. I think you're making a lot of assumptions in that... for example, that the children are learning it in the first year instead of over their entire childhood (I would expect raising a child to be plenty stressful in the 2nd year). And I'm not getting how it would be more information transfer than it would be if there weren't stress.
crs
Mar. 24th, 2007 04:07 am (UTC)
The theory asserts that it's the transfer of this information that is somehow more "true", a more accurate representation of the previous generation.

The theory is obviously flawed a tad.
zkzkz
Mar. 23rd, 2007 12:46 pm (UTC)
Huh. I just noticed that "parental" and "prenatal" are anagrams.
ilai
Mar. 23rd, 2007 03:33 pm (UTC)
Dare I ask what motivated this theory? Are you secretly raising a kid in your room? ;-)
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )