Don’t bash the parents!

New research has been published in the Journal of Child Development by Marilyn Essex et al on the effects of parental stress on the DNA of children. Some of the study details are published here. The study shows that parental stress does not affect the sequence of genes but it can affect how genes are expressed, the proteins that they produce. It does this by a process called DNA methylation and these changes are known as ‘epigenetic’ changes. In other words, it is how the environment can affect genetic expression without altering the genome or genetic code. These changes were found to be present even years after the inital stressor and show how childhood experiences can ‘get under the skin’. 

Interestingly the study found that father stress had most influence during the pre-school years and most impact on daughters whereas maternal stress had most influence during infancy and affected both girls and boys. 

On the face of it this would seem to give more weight to those who like to ‘bash the parents’ and blame them for all their suffering – the if only they had done this, or done that, or not done this or that – I would be ok mentality.

From an esoteric perspective this study lends weight to what we know energetically – that everything we do, say or think can heal or harm. It is as simple as that. The energetic understandings call each of us to take responsiblity for how we are in every interaction – not just in parenting. It is not about blaming parents or bashing them as they are a consequence of their parents upbringing and so on and people have been unaware of how much their behaviour and emotional state of being affects not only themselves but also those around them. 

Epigenetic changes are potentially reversible and esoterically people are capable of healing whatever issue they have by coming to a deeper truth and understanding of who they are and why things happen as they do. The latter can include karmic consequences of choices made over many lifetimes. Something not everyone is prepared to hear or accept as it calls us to live with a high degree of responsibility. 

Whilst it is true that everything we do, say or think either heals or harms – it is a tough one to live because we have for so long been living in ways that are not true, not true to who we really are. We find it so much easier to be in disregard, to be emotional, to be angry or sad, to eat junk food, drink alcohol, smoke and the multitude of other ways that are constantly harming us instead of the ways that are truly self-caring and self-nurturing. How sad is that – that humanity has become so lost from who they really are that self harm is easier than true self-love?  And how dangerous are the many teachings that perpetuate that behaviour by callling people sinners and making them feel bad about themselves? 


  • Reply
    4th September 2011 at 10:31 pm

    Do you know of any studies that show that epigenetic changes are reversible? Great if they are – and its what feels right – I just havnt seen any studies yet.

    The implication from the article seemed to be that the stress levels from the parents was still impacting the epigenetic methylation of their children more than a decade later. It also gave the impression that there wasnt much that the now teenagers could do about it! Whereas, as you say, from an esoteric perspective, we are responsible for everything and at any time we can make self-loving choices – perhaps different to our parents.

    Perhaps the debate is moving on from “nature vs nurture” to “nurture vs responsibility” 🙂

    • Reply
      The Soulful Doctor
      5th September 2011 at 12:19 am

      Hi David, 

      There was a preliminary study by Dean Ornish on men with prostate cancer who underwent significant lifestyle changes and they apparently showed changes in genetic expression following these changes. However, they did point out that further work was required. This paper and the list of references after it may give some more information but I have not had the chance to go through them myself. If you find anything interesting do let me know!  Also this article discusses the reversibility of epigenetic changes. I was perhaps too hasty when I wrote the article and have edited it to say  ‘potentially reversible’. The changes can persist however for many years as you say and can be across generations. Pharmaceutical companies are looking to drugs to reverse this process of course.

      The point is however, that whether the changes are reversible or not – from an esoteric perspective healing can still occur and parents are still not to be bashed! And yes – responsibility is key!

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