Environment plays a large role in our comfort levels as human beings, and as such, we tend to be hyper-aware of our settings on a subconscious level, according to the University of Michigan. Because of this, families seek out certain attributes in their environments that help formulate a steady ground on which to build their foundation.
The first environmental factor most families take into consideration is safety, and for good reason. Feeling safe in your home and neighborhood is essential for honing the ability to learn and grow in a free environment. The ability to trust your neighbors and your neighborhood can help you feel comfortable allowing your youngsters to explore and develop slightly away from your protective embrace. The dynamics of a family in a safe environment are more open and trusting, allowing for more responsibility and growth in children at a younger age, according to a report from Minnesota University titled "Performance Competence Lifespan Framework."
Security implies a more subtle form of safety. Families who are secure in their homes and have enough income to keep their status quo are less likely to fight openly or become entrenched in disagreements about life factors they have no control over. This leads to a healthier lifestyle for children, as they have no chance to experience and internalize stress about finances, livelihoods or living situations, states Pediatric Care Online. Along with financial security comes more physical safety measures as well, including the unlikelihood of detrimental conditions such as rodent infestation, lead pipes or carbon monoxide leaks, among others.
Physical comforts can greatly affect a family. Family members who are comfortable in their surroundings build relationships and set up a support system, not only with each other, but with their environment, states a report by the University of Michigan entitled, "What Impact Does the Environment Have on Us?". If your family is at ease with the environment, stress is limited and inner calm reigns, according to the report. The stressors listed include noise and air pollution, glare and sunlight and social support systems (or lack thereof).
On top of physical comforts, families need to be psychologically in tune with their surroundings, states the U.S. Institute of Medicine in a book titled, "Genes, Behavior, and the Social Environment: Moving Beyond the Nature/Nurture Debate." Having neighbors that accept ethnic diversity, believe in cooperation and equality of race and gender and support different socioeconomic paths can help your family in its search a sense of belonging amid its environment. Those who feel ostracized by the social groups around them often have trouble maintaining a healthy cornerstone, regardless of whether the other environmental factors are achieved.
- University of Minnesota: Performance Competence Lifespan Framework
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: The Impact of Social and Cultural Environment on Health
- Pediatric Care Online: Recognizing the Impact of Environment on Families (Abstract)
- University of Minnesota: What Impact Does the Environment Have on Us?
- Photo Credit Siri Stafford/Lifesize/Getty Images