My focus in my careers in research and insurance has always been to help people live better. Frankly, it’s rare to find emotional satisfaction in helping a big corporation boost sales — most waste incredible amounts of money in a creative variety of ways with little interest in changing for the benefit of shareholders, customers or employees. People are another matter. Most can’t afford waste or mistakes.
Reading with children has long been known to help in preparing children for school. Reading skills are a key to learning, and reading imparts an understanding of how people behave — emotional intelligence — which is vital to success in a school environment. You’ve probably heard the dictum about reading with a child 20 minutes before bed each evening. You may even have heard that reading — as opposed to anything electronic — will also enable you to get a better night of sleep for your self.
Now, a new study by a team at Rutgers University shows the following additional benefits from reading with your child or grandchild:
- As a parent, you behave better toward your child. People who read with their children don’t practice “harsh parenting.”
- Children themselves exhibit better behavior.
What’s going on seems clear, at least to me. We talk about bonding between a newborn and the mother and father. We don’t talk about how to strengthen that bond after the child comes home from the hospital. The assumption seems to have been that once a child is born, the bond is there and doesn’t need maintenance. And that’s not true.
Reading together appears to be a way of maintaining and strengthening that bond over time. You are closer and more in tune with your child, and your child is closer and more in tune with you. My guess is that closeness facilitates more open dialog between you and your child, a better understanding of expectations, and a greater desire not to disappoint the other. And that means a happier life for all.
There are probably other activities that can strengthen the bond between parents and children. Camping comes to mind. Hobbies, too. However, reading is probably the easiest and least expensive thing most people can do.
Now, my question: should couples read with each other? If this can strengthen bonds with children, can it also work with bonds between adults?
- Manuel E. Jimenez, Alan L. Mendelsohn, Yong Lin, Patricia Shelton, Nancy Reichman. Early Shared Reading Is Associated with Less Harsh Parenting. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 2019; 1 DOI: 10.1097/DBP.0000000000000687
- Rutgers University. “Reading with toddlers linked to reduced harsh parenting, enhanced child behavior.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 May 2019. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/05/190523111403.htm>.