03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Mother Nature's Parenting Advice

Evolutionary sciences tell us that regardless of your sex, Mother Nature has hardwired you to be a caregiver. If she hadn't, parents would not feel compelled to nurture their young, leading to infant mortality and quick extinction. From an evolutionary perspective, both sexes are hardwired to nurture and protect their children because it enhances life for the individual, family, community, and of course the world.

I can't think of a better expert on parenting than Mother Nature---she's been doing it for a long time and she's raised all sorts of kids. If you asked her for parenting advice, here are some of the tips she would give you.

Prioritize Your Kids. Back on the savannah, parents who made it priority to keep their offspring clean and well-fed experienced lower infant mortality, and their children were sure to grow up healthier to perpetuate their family tree. Care giving developed the future. The same is true today. Parents who make their children a priority reap the benefits of having children who have more enhanced lives.

Do you make care giving to your kids a priority? Only you know for sure. If your three-year old daughter has a bad cold, do you stay home from work or drop her off at daycare? Do you give up a business meeting or playing a round of golf with a client to sit in the front row of your son's school play, or do you tell him, "I wish I could have been there but I had to work." Do you buy that status car or save the money for your child's summer camp experience or a teen tour?

Please understand that there are no correct answers, only answers that help you increase your awareness of whether you actually make care giving to your children your first priority.

Provide a Safe and Secure Environment. Consider how many household accidents there are due to parental carelessness or the number of children who are abused and molested by one parent while the other parent turns a blind eye and fails to protect the children. Add in all the kids whose health care, dental and educational needs are neglected, and it seems that parents who provide a safe and secure environment for their children might be a smaller population than we may think.

What about you? Do you make sure your child is in a physically safe environment at school? Are you a super-sleuth when it comes to investigating babysitters? Do you protect your child from being treated unfairly or harshly by teachers or other children? Do you make it safe for your kids to express their thoughts and feelings?

Spend a Lot of Time with Your Kids. In the course of a week, how much time do you actually spend with your kids? Our ancestors, who spent virtually every hour of their lives with their children, had sturdy emotional bonds, thus ensuring family cohesiveness and the likelihood that aging parents would be able to rely on their children, in turn. The fact that a pregnancy is nine months long is one of Mother Nature's mechanisms for getting the mother to spend time with the newborn-to-be--mother and child are already bonding.

As your children grow, time with them lessens so it is highly recommended that you spend lots of time with your children in their early years. From infancy to age two is a crucial time during which parents and child become attuned to the emotional cues between each other that later go on to enhance their relationship.

Do Interactive Activities. It is one thing to watch your son play in a tennis match, but Mother Nature would tell you it's much better to play tennis with him. The early parents who interacted frequently with their kids and included them in activities such as food gathering, hunting and gardening taught them the skills and values that would give their kids the survival edge.

Think of the type of activities you do with your children and make them as interactive as possible. If you read a story to your daughter, ask her to tell you a story, too.

There is nothing wrong with watching television with your son on a Saturday afternoon, but turn it into an interactive learning activity by discussing the show, the feelings it arouses, and how characters handled specific situations. Of course, only talk during the commercials.

Educate Your Children. Care giving is about developing, and parents who learned that education was essential to their child's development were thinking the same way that good parents do today.

Education has always been important because it allows an individual to achieve mobility, to move through his environment to secure a valuable niche. Without education, the individual stays stuck and increases the likelihood of failing-in evolutionary terms, becoming extinct.

Parents who educate their children prepare them to cope with and alter their life course. Do you actively participate in your children's education? Do you go to school meetings, schedule teacher conferences, help with homework and do everything possible to ensure that your child is getting and succeeding in an excellent education?

Are you saving and investing money now for your children's college tuition, or are you planning to burden them with student loans?

Follow Mother Nature's parenting advice and you will be rewarded with the pleasure of seeing your children succeed in meeting the challenges of life.

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