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date: 22 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

All infants rely on parenting behaviors that provide what they need to be healthy. As “compassion” can be defined as feelings that are elicited by perceiving someone else’s suffering with a desire to help (Goetz, Keltner, & Simon-Thomas, 2010), parenting behavior in concert with compassion towards a child can be defined as “compassionate parenting.” A child who has received compassionate parenting will tend to provide compassionate parenting to his or her own offspring, and possibly to unrelated others. We postulate that compassionate parenting should have the following characteristics: (1) effective care-giving behaviors (behavioral contingency), (2) parental emotions that are coherent and connected with child’s emotions (emotional connection), and (3) awareness of own and other’s cognitions and emotions and other environmental factors (reflective awareness). In this chapter, a body of literature in neurobiological mechanisms underlying parenting is selectively reviewed in reference to the behavioral, emotional, and cognitive aspects of compassionate parenting.

Keywords: compassionate parenting, parent–child relationships, brain imaging, fMRI, attachment, caregiving, maternal, paternal

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