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We all know intuitively that early childhood experiences shape the rest of our lives. Today, scientists can offer research to back up what we already assumed.

A recent article in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience found:

that adults with insecure attachments to their parents or caregivers as children tend to perform poorly in tasks and work when under stress or when negative emotions are present. . . .Children whose caregivers don’t respond to their needs or signs of emotional distress learn ‘defensive strategies,’ such as suppressing feelings or using poor coping skills, whose high emotional cost they may pay later in life.

What does the fact that our early lives matter so much for our adult lives have to do with family planning? Right now, we live in an isolated model of parenting; Families are seen as an isolated unit that chooses to have whatever number of children they want, and then raises those children without outside influences. But without family planning help from the community, families can actually have more children than their time, money, and effort can support. This creates an unhealthy environment for the parents, children, and eventually the community.  

Because early childhood matters so much for our lives—and the lives of the people with whom we interact—family models should maximize investment in early childhood development that a family and a community can realistically support. Additionally, families should be provided with the family planning resources they need to give their children the best start in life. Then they can work together to give each child the best future possible.

Let’s change the way we think about family planning. The best models promote smaller families working together to plan a better future for every child.

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