The Hunter-Gatherer (faustin) wrote,
The Hunter-Gatherer

nature 99, nurture 0

The researchers are perfectly comfortable with, and don't mention any suggested conclusions to be drawn from, the fact that they observe variable degrees of self-control and guilt in children as young as age two, and that the variation doesn't show any correlation with parenting methods or styles.

They observe it, and five seconds later you'll see them hemming and hawing over the role parenting plays in teaching morality.

Err, perhaps I still overestimate them; more likely those are the more conscientious and intelligent ones. Probably the majority of people have all the observations available to them: children's innate sense of responsibility, and innate norms that actually match ethical individualism: not to use others as means to your ends. But people also have their innate bias towards exaggerating control, and optimistic exaggeration of control over their offsprings' characters and thus lives, so they can obseve the innate morality and then boldly contradict their observations two seconds later.

The article is short, the description of the observations is fascinating: Guilt is a dropping feeling in the tummy.

Guilt and Atonement on the Path to Adulthood, The New York Times,

“Even if you don’t have that sinking feeling in the tummy, you can still suppress impulses,” Dr. Kochanska said. “You can stop and remember what your parents told you. You can stop and reflect on the consequences for others and yourself.”

But what if your child lacks both self-control and guilt? What can you do? And should you feel guilty for doing a lousy job of parenting?

Well, you could blame yourself, although researchers haven’t been able to link any particular pattern of parenting to children’s levels of guilt, says June Tangney, a psychologist at George Mason University. But Dr. Tangney, who has studied guilt extensively in both children and adults, including prison inmates, does have some advice for parents. (To offer your thoughts on parents and guilt, go to
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