A Series on Parenting With the Brain in Mind

When we become parents, we want the best for our children. Fortunately, the scientific understanding of how children develop within families has grown to the point where we can now state what the essential aspects of healthy development are. In this series of entries, I will offer you ways of understanding the science of parenting so that you can both understand the ideas and apply the principles in ways that can make your parenting more effective and more enjoyable.

The science we will be drawing upon comes from connecting all the various divisions of science together into one framework of understanding. That approach is called “interpersonal neurobiology,” and I am proud to be the founding editor of the professional series of books that focus on this field. Instead of referring to the research and academic articles, here I will instead offer you the “take home” lessons that emerge from this synthesis of science. If you are interested in more of the science, I recommend the university textbook I wrote, The Developing Mind: How relationships and the brain interact to shape who we are, Second Edition (2012). If you enjoy just the scientific ideas themselves, without the references to the research itself, then try Pocket Guide to Interpersonal Neurobiology: An integrative handbook of the mind (2012).

For our exploration of parenting, lets begin with several foundational notions. The first is that the child will develop based on both information in her genes and experiences she has in her life.

Genes contain information that guides the growth of the cells of the body, including the basic cells of the brain, the neurons. How neurons link to each other in synaptic connections shapes the brain’s structure. And this synaptic structure shapes how mental processes — like emotions, thoughts, memories and behavioral control —> Read More