It was hypothesized years ago that up to 50% of our potential to learn is developed within the first five years of our life. Another 30% is added by age eight, and the final 20% by the time we are sixteen. Later studies pointed to the pre-natal period as the most vital time for brain development, thus “potential to learn.”
Babies can be disadvantaged at birth because of insufficient pre-natal nutrition of their mothers, just as they can be addicted at birth because of drug or alcohol consumption of their mothers during the pre-natal period. It is very difficult for those “disadvantaged at birth” to catch up to their peers without deliberate and sustained parental or custodial enrichment of their physical and mental development during their infancy and pre-school years. This is no time for lackadaisical care, no time for junk food, sugar drinks, and the TV as babysitter. Unfortunately for those babies, “disadvantaged at birth” is usually followed by disadvantaged at home and eventual waste of human potential, not just for the individual, but for society in general.
I don’t believe there is a single problem on earth that can’t be solved by rational, mature human behavior, except one! How do we get humans to act wisely, that is, with forethought and deliberate analysis of what the results of their actions are likely to produce?
Becoming a parent, for example, ought to be a deliberate decision. Am I married? Am I economically stable enough to adequately support a family? Do I have a secure place to live? Can I give the intense personal time to the care of a child, especially an infant? Do I have an emotionally mature, responsible, and willing partner who also wants a child? Can I give up any bad habits I might have, such as smoking, drug and alcohol abuse, poor time and money management, abusive behavior? Do I want to be a good role model? There are many more questions you might be able to ask yourself before making such a life-altering decision as whether to be a parent. The point is, you owe your child or children a lifelong commitment which starts even before they are born.
Choose your mate wisely, my young friends, and choose to be a parent just as wisely. Both of these decisions will forever change your life. It is my hope that they will enrich your life, that you will be a responsible parent and partner and guide your child into responsible adulthood. Very likely, that is the most intense and socially beneficial task you will ever perform. Ken McCullough