+
5 years ago, a landmark study found weird evidence that a stressful childhood affects you forever.
Photo by Ryan Fields on Unsplash

This article originally appeared on 12.18.17


We know your relationship with your parents can affect a lot about who you are as you grow up. But is it possible that the good and bad of that relationship could actually show up in your saliva?

That's the bizarre-but-important question a team of researchers recently asked, the results of which were published in Developmental Science.


Led by Elizabeth Shirtcliff, an associate professor from Iowa State University who studies early childhood adversity, the study gathered 300 8th-grade kids and used a simple survey to determine some basic facts about their parents. The kids were asked things like whether they were close with their parents and how often positive reinforcement was used in their household.

The team was looking for signs of what they called "positive parenting, attachment, and bonding."

Six years later, the kids — now adults — were brought back in for a strange follow-up. The researchers collected a dozen different samples of their saliva.

It sounds a little gross, but they were looking for something important: the presence of a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is crucial to our overall well-being. Lower levels of cortisol are correlated with fatigue, mood swings, and muscle loss, for example. Higher levels of cortisol correlate with healthy blood pressure levels and better immune system function (though extremely high levels are a health risk).

For this study, cortisol was particularly important because it plays a big role in how we process and react to stress. When we're faced with extreme stress or danger, cortisol floods our bodies, resulting in the "fight or flight," response.

The study's authors observed that people who are generally more stressed over longer periods of time, however, often show lower cortisol levels — almost like they get accustomed to all that stress over time and have a lesser reaction to it. While this might sound like a good thing, as far as your health goes, it's definitely not.

The results of the study were clear: The more signs the kids showed of a positive bond with their parents when they were young, the better their cortisol functioned in adulthood.

Photo by Lawrence Crayton on Unsplash

That's a good thing, the researchers suggest, because it helps keep kids alert and sensitive to all of the stimuli and information swirling around them from day to day, rather than having a blunted response to stressors and life in general.

So having great parents who use positive parenting methods is a good thing. Yay!

But the study had an important twist when it came to looking at racial demographics.

Photo by ia huh on Unsplash

When race differences were accounted for — about half the kids were black and half were white — the cortisol correlation didn't hold up.

On average, the study found, white and black parents were equally likely to have a positive bond with their kids. But parenting styles aren't the only thing that can affect stress levels and kids' response to it.

Many of the white students in the study may have benefited from "low stress, resource-rich contexts which unfortunately may be less common for black youth," the researchers explained.

It's also worth noting that many groups — including black people of people Jewish descent — carry biological markers of trauma from previous generations (i.e., slavery, the Holocaust), which can also affect cortisol response.

In other words, growing up with various socioeconomic and other hardships does indeed have a lifelong impact, and now we've got the beakers full of saliva (so to speak) to prove it.

This is important work. It proves that, in many cases, being a great parent can actually physically manifest itself in kids growing up to be well-adjusted and adaptable.

Being a loving parent can actually have a biological impact on your kids years and years later. That's amazing!

Perhaps most importantly, however, it shows a glaring need for kids — particularly those belonging to marginalized or disadvantaged groups — to get better support in the form of solid education, safe communities to grow up in, and more opportunities to learn and grow.

Having great parents isn't always enough to overcome a world that seems to be stacked against you, but it certainly helps.

All photos courtesy of Biofinity Energys®

True

The human eye reveals so much about who we are. One look can convey love, annoyance, exhaustion, or wisdom.

Our eyes tell the world if we are getting enough sleep, if we’ve been crying, or whether we are truly happy (or just faking it). When looking at the face, the eyes dominate emotional communication—after all, they’ve long been known as the “window to the soul.”

Keep ReadingShow less

Author, educator and mother Esther Wojcicki.

Esther Wojcicki has earned the right to tell people how to raise their kids. She’s an educator, journalist and bestselling author of "How to Raise Successful People" who has raised three daughters—two are CEOs and the other a doctor.

Susan Wojcicki is the CEO of YouTube, Anne Wojcicki is the co-founder and CEO of 23andMe and Dr. Janet Wojcicki is an anthropologist and epidemiologist who works on HIV progression and obesity risk in children.

In "How to Raise Successful People" Esther Wojcicki says the secret to success is the result of “TRICK”: trust, respect, independence, collaboration and kindness. In a new article she wrote for NBC Chicago, she boiled that down to one rule, “Don't do anything for your kids that they can do for themselves.”

Keep ReadingShow less
Sponsored

This is the most important van in NYC… and it’s full of socks.

How can socks make such a huge difference? You'd be surprised.

all photos provided by Coalition for The Homeless

Every night, the van delivers nourishment in all kinds of ways to those who need it most

True

Homelessness in New York City has reached its highest levels since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Over 50,000 people sleep each night in a shelter, while thousands of others rely on city streets, the subway system and other public locations as spaces to rest.

That’s why this meal (and sock) delivery van is an effective resource for providing aid to those experiencing homelessness in New York City.

Every night of the year, from 7pm to 9:30, the Coalition for the Homeless drives a small fleet of vans to over 25 stops throughout upper and lower Manhattan and in the Bronx. At each stop, adults and families in need can receive a warm meal, a welcoming smile from volunteers, and a fresh, comfy new pair of Bombas socks. Socks may be even more important than you think.

Bombas was founded in 2013 after the discovery that socks were the #1 most requested clothing item at homeless shelters.

Access to fresh, clean socks is often limited for individuals experiencing homelessness—whether someone is living on the street and walking for much of the day, or is unstably housed without reliable access to laundry or storage. And for individuals experiencing or at risk of homelessness —expenses might need to be prioritized for more critical needs like food, medication, school supplies, or gas. Used socks can’t be donated to shelters for hygienic reasons, making this important item even more difficult to supply to those who need it the most.

Bombas offers its consumers durable, long-lasting and comfortable socks, and for every pair of Bombas socks purchased, an additional pair of specially-designed socks is donated to organizations supporting those in need, like Coalition for the Homeless. What started out as a simple collaboration with a few organizations and nonprofits to help individuals without housing security has quickly become a bona fide giving movement. Bombas now has approximately 3,500 Giving Partners nationwide.

Though every individual’s experience is unique, there can frequently be an inherent lack of trust of institutions that want to help—making a solution even more challenging to achieve. “I’ve had people reach out when I’m handing them a pair of socks and their hands are shaking and they’re looking around, and they’re wondering ‘why is this person being nice to me?’” Robbi Montoya—director at Dorothy Day House, another Giving Partner—told Bombas.

Donations like socks are a small way to create connection. And they can quickly become something much bigger. Right now over 1,000 people receive clothing and warm food every night, rain or shine, from a Coalition for the Homeless van. That bit of consistent kindness during a time of struggle can help offer the feeling of true support. This type of encouragement is often crucial for organizations to help those take the next difficult steps towards stability.

This philosophy helped Bombas and its abundance of Giving Partners extend their reach beyond New York City. Over 75 million clothing items have been donated to those who need it the most across all 50 states. Over the years Bombas has accumulated all kinds of valuable statistics, information, and highlights from Giving Partners similar to the Coalition for the Homeless vans and Dorothy Day House, which can be found in the Bombas Impact Report.

In the Impact Report, you’ll also find out how to get involved—whether it’s purchasing a pair of Bombas socks to get another item donated, joining a volunteer group, or shifting the conversation around homelessness to prioritize compassion and humanity.

To find out more, visit BeeBetter.com.

via Pixabay

A good ol' fashioned strip bandage.

It's annoying to get a cut on your knuckles, because they're a hard place to put a Band-Aid. If you put it on too tight, you can’t move your finger and if you put it on too loose, it easily slips off. Of course, you can buy Band-Aids made to go over knuckles, but unless you have a MacGyver-level first-aid kit, you probably only have basic strips.

A new video shared by everyone's "mom hack bestie" Autumn Grace, aka HonestlyAutumnb, on Instagram shows an easy way to transform a run-of-the-mill strip Band-Aid into a fully-functional knuckle bandage. “This is one of the best band aid life hacks!” she captioned the video.

To transform a strip bandage into a knuckle Band-Aid, you must make two cuts with scissors, and voila! "The hack I never thought I needed to know until today!" VermillionChicago commented on the post.

Keep ReadingShow less

Robin Williams—the comedic genius

We all know the late, great Robin Williams was a comic genius. Many people also know that he was classically trained in theater. In a recently unearthed clip from 1991, Williams combines those two talents, leaving people splitting at the seams even decades later.

Williams was a guest on “The Tonight Show” starring Johnny Carson, when he and Carson began chatting about William Shakespeare, who Williams quickly quipped was a “man with a second grade education, [who] wrote some of the greatest poetry of all time, and sometimes I think, maybe not.”

Carson then asked Williams how he felt about other actors playing Hamlet (for context, Mel Gibson had recently starred in the role). Williams, being no stranger to the Bard’s work, then went into one of his delightfully creative frenzies, managing to effortlessly slide into the voices of Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jack Nicholson while throwing out verses like it was nothing.

Keep ReadingShow less