Parents exert singular influence on their children’s development during the earliest years of life in four key areas:
- Character. The most significant role of early nurture is to form the character of children. How people treat one another is the very foundation of a just society – the kind of place in which the following three traits flourish. Without the baseline of a just society – which begins in a just family – the other aims of nurture (competence, creativity, and collaboration) can be used in ways that destroy communities rather than building them.
- Competence. After virtue, competence is paramount to the flourishing individuals and relationships. In fact, character and competence cannot be separated. A person cannot be virtuous without demonstrating hard work, integrity, and persistence – qualities that begin to form around age 1 when a child can learn to put his toys away.
- Creativity. Competence and creativity, too, are intertwined. To be competent in anything implies a measure of creativity and problem solving. In a home where creativity and innovation are intentionally cherished, children solve problems in new ways and develop life-long patterns of innovation.
- Collaboration. A team is more than the sum of its parts; and children learn to work in teams (with parents and siblings!) from their earliest years. Together families that are marked by character, competence and creativity create the kind of environment where everyone wants to be.