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Nurturing Our Adult Relationships By Repairing Our Childhood Ones

Childhood is a formative period in every person's life, laying the foundation for future relationships and interactions. Everyone is raised differently and there’s no doubt that our upbringing has a significant impact on the person we become as adults. 

How Childhood Relationships Impact Our Future

The effect of our childhood relationships is often overlooked. Still, a decades-long research study proves that childhood bonds have a profound influence on men as they navigate their adult relationships. This article delves into the ways men who were raised in comforting and caring homes grew up to have more secure relationships as adults. 

Study of Adult Male Development  

Harvard University’s Study of Adult Development took place over the course of eight years. It was eventually published in Psychological Science in 2016. 

It began in 1938 when researchers conducted in-depth interviews with all male Harvard students and inner-city Boston teens based on their families, relationships, and environments. Researchers followed up with the men in their midlife and again in their 80’s. The most recent follow-up was conducted by Robert Waldinger, a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School, and Marc Schulz, a psychologist at Bryn Mawr College. 

Research Findings 

The researchers discovered, despite the social class these men grew up in or were presently living in, those who grew up in warm, loving environments “used healthier strategies to manage their negative emotions in midlife and were also more securely attached to their partners late in life. These results suggest our childhood environment affects our relationships not only into early adulthood but for the rest of our life.” 

Schulz remarks that the research proves our world needs better services that positively influence families and their environment. Such as, better family leave from jobs during necessary times and better social services for needy families. 

Educator and Parent Takeaway

As someone who has experience as an educator, a parent, and a foster parent, what I find most inspiring in this study is this: we enhance our children's lives when we dedicate more quality time to them and are purposeful in how we spend it. Here’s a list of ten ways we can build a strong, warm, and secure relationship with our children. 

1. Family Activities: Encourage regular family activities like board games, hikes, or cooking together. These shared experiences create lasting memories and strengthen connections.

2. Open Communication: Promote open, non-judgmental communication. Encourage family members to express their thoughts and feelings, fostering trust and understanding.

3. Family Meetings: Hold regular family meetings to discuss goals, challenges, and achievements. This helps everyone feel heard and involved in decision-making.

4. Shared Values: Teach and reinforce family values, such as kindness, respect, and responsibility. Create opportunities for discussions about these values and their importance. GENM’s PeaceMakers Affirmation Cards are a fantastic resource for parents and their children to connect in fun ways around their ideas and feelings.

5. Quality Time: Emphasize the importance of quality over quantity when spending quality time together. One extremely important aspect of this is to ensure that distractions, like screens, are minimized during family time.

6. Volunteer Together: Engage in community service or volunteer work as a family. This not only helps others but also instills a sense of empathy among family members.

7. Family Reading: Choose a book to read as a family and set aside time for discussions. This promotes literacy and provides opportunities for meaningful conversations.

8. Cooking Challenges: Have friendly cooking competitions or challenges within the family. Experiment with new recipes and enjoy the delicious results together.

9. Outdoor Adventures: Plan outdoor adventures like camping trips, nature hikes, or biking excursions. Connecting with nature, while spending time together, can be both educational and fun.

10. Family Journaling: Start a family journal where even young kids can write or draw about their daily experiences, dreams, and aspirations. Share entries regularly to gain insight into each other's lives.


Childhood relationships play a significant role in shaping men's attitudes, behaviors, and expectations in their adult relationships. Men who experience positive and nurturing childhood relationships are better equipped to build strong and meaningful connections, while those who face adversity may need additional support and self-awareness to overcome challenges in their adult relationships.  

While the study did not include women, it is essential to recognize and understand the impact our early experiences have on each and every one of us as adults, regardless of how we identify and/or whether we ever have children of our own. 

Acknowledging the importance of our early years can lead to more fulfilling and loving adult relationships. This not only benefits each of us individuals but serves to create a kinder, more empathetic society for future generations to thrive in as well. 

Learn More About Reparenting

By understanding and embracing your inner child with kindness, you become resilient, improve your emotional well-being, and form a deeper connection with yourself. 

If you would like further guidance and support in your reparenting journey, please take a moment to explore the Reparent Yourself Masterclass Bundle.

Lifetime Access to 20 Interactive Courses, Guided Meditations, Healing Movement, and Other Transformative Resources. The Reparent Yourself Masterclass Bundle is available at 94% Off Savings for a limited time.

PeaceMakers Affirmation Cards
PeaceMakers Affirmation Cards

PeaceMakers Affirmation Cards


PeaceMakers help children and adults connect in daily, playful ways around the things that matter most: our ideas and our feelings! Each card delivers a...

larger photo of blog article author Ashley Martin

Ashley Martin is a former preschool teacher, mother of two, and foster mother who has welcomed over 15 children into her home. She has been studying interdisciplinary early childhood education and positive parenting for 10+ years. Her calling in life is to help children and parents in need through bonding, positive parenting, and reunification.

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