Parents and older siblings are the first persons met by a new-born. While satisfying primary survival needs, parents expose a child to a certain home environment with its unique values, traditions, and routines. It is a well-known fact that parents and the entire family significantly affect child’s personality, cognitive development, emotional state, and behavioral habits. In this vein, the presence and active involvement of parents or caregivers in the life of a child is essential to provide the necessary support to the child throughout the overall development. Otherwise, the child is likely to lack confidence and trust accountable for the normal growth and development.
The present-day abundance of studies and media publications dwelling on the role of home environment in shaping child development stands on theoretical premises of ecological system theory and attachment theory. From the first theoretical viewpoint, natural environments surrounding a person from early childhood to adolescence serve as primary sources of influence on the individual development. When outlining five ecological systems, Urie Bronfenbrenner placed microsystem as the core of human development. This kind of ecological systems refers to immediate environmental setting created by parents, the family, neighbors, friends, etc. (Burns, 2010). Therefore, relationships within the family among its members and attitudes towards the child displayed by parents and other family members determine a set of values, morals, beliefs, and ideas, which will inform the child’s actions and behaviors in the future.
Another relevant theory proving the crucial importance of adequate and supportive child-parents’ relationships in terms of the child’s development is attachment theory. According to its author John Bowlby, emotional relationship with a mother starts during prenatal development, which explains the infant’s response to the mother’s voice and smell from the first days of life. During later months, the child needs the constant presence of the mother and other family caregivers to feel security and safety. Parents are the persons who observe and are expected to assist the child with first physical and emotional accomplishments. By granting understanding, interest, care, and support to the child, parents and the family create the relationship of secure attachment, which nourishes the senses of confidence and encouragement (Bowlby, 2012). In this vein, home environment lays the fundament for the child’s emotional and intellectual development determining his or her success in life.
These theoretical principles boosted research in child development in terms of its dependence of relationships with the family and home environment. The existing evidence underlines the importance of responsible parenting, as parental decisions produce physical, emotional, intellectual, and social effects. In terms of physical outcomes, unhealthy home environment, including alcohol drinking, smoking, physical abuse, and violence, may cause direct and indirect physical problems, such as child abuse, child self-beating, stutter, and the like. Emotional damage caused by negative home environments concerns negative moods, anxiety, depression, and aggression, which are likely to transform in behavior problems later. Social impairment linked to poor parenting relates to the inability of the child to build productive relations with peers, teachers, and other community members. Finally, cognitive development is extremely dependent on home environment in terms of language development, intellectual abilities, and learning pace. Therefore, different home environments enforce different scenarios of brain development. Disadvantaged home environments place the child in the atmosphere of chaos, uncertainty, and stress, thereby producing detrimental effects on the child’s emotional and social development, memory, learning, and language. In turn, healthy home environments with caring and supportive parents stimulate brain activity and appropriate cognitive, social, and emotional development of the child increasing the chance of happy life, high school graduation, and high-income employment in the future.