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Babies and toddlers raised in supportive and caring home environments tended to do better on standardized tests later on, and they were more likely to attain higher degrees as adults. They were also more likely to get along with their peers and feel satisfied in their romantic relationships. "It seems like, at least in these early years, the parents' role is to communicate with the child and let them know, 'I'm here for you when you're upset, when you need me. And when you don't need me, I'm your cheerleader,' " says Lee Raby, a psychologist and postdoctoral researcher at the University of Delaware who led the study. Raby used data collected from 243 people who participated in the Minnesota Longitudinal Study of Risk. All the participants were followed from birth until they turned 32. Of course, parental behavior in the early years is just one of many influences, and it's not necessarily causing the benefits seen in the study. And a child's psychological makeup is a factor as well.
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