The Cheapest Way to Transform Relationships (And society)

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 3.52.59 PMCould you imagine if someone promised you a guaranteed 18% return on your money? I’ll bet you’d jump at such an impressive investment return, right? That’s what the lawmakers in Minnesota did after they read data by economist Arthur Rolnick Ph.D.. Turns out the best investment any legislator can make is in high grade early childcare and preschool. After crunching the numbers, free baby-care and pre-school paid an 18% return in savings from education, the judicial system, and health care. Yup. 18%.?This was only part of the data presented at a Think Tank I attended this week hosted by the Simms/Mann Institute.

But what does this have to do with relationships?

The other speakers at the Think Tank were esteemed neuroscientists and attachment researchers who backed up the financial argument for investment in babies and toddlers with startling news about brain development. According to the reams of research they presented, the foundational architecture of the brain is mostly formed by a child’s third birthday.?Disrupted early life bonding, abuse or neglect creates a break down in the brain’s receptors for oxytocin — the bonding hormone — making people who grow up unable to have secure attachments. They fail at relationships because they are missing some basic wiring.

But infants given consistent, empathetic care and emotional mirroring have a better capacity to regulate their own feelings, an increased ability to engage in intimate relationships, and are better able?to recover after relationship ruptures. In plain speak, a secure attachment in early life creates grown-up lovers who can contain themselves, become attracted to people who can love them back, and they fight fair and repair well. By the way, at this juncture, the researchers estimated that about half of us get this kind of early life care at home.

The rest grow up attempting to transform relationships. They ?spend money in therapy, or fighting chronic health conditions linked to stress, or commit crimes related to anger issues, poor impulse control or lack of empathy. And all that is not only bad for relationships, but very expensive for society.

According to Pat Levitt, Ph.D., the Simms/Mann Chair of Developmental Neurogenetics at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, “Investment in child development is the foundation for all prosperous communities. It is simply not cost effective to create plasticity through experiences later in life.”

Economist Rolnick backed up that sentiment, “A key ingredient in economic super powers is early child education. Kids in poverty show the biggest investment return. And the best predictor of successful outcomes for kids is a mother’s education.”

And, I’ll add to that: The best predictor of a healthy adult connection isn’t one’s access to Tinder or It’s ?the care one received aged 0 -3.


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