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Over 200 top tips and words of advice, to help you really get the most from the time you spend with your kids
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Searched for: 10/23/2021 - Found: 7/30/2008 to 8/5/2008
Cautionary Tales For Children
Wonderful witty poems great for reading to your children. The stories and rhymes will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

Research has shown how important YOU are to your children and how as a dad the things you do, and keep on doing, really count, whether you live with them, or you are a single dad and are only able see them once a month, once a week or more, what you do really matters. This site is dedicated to all dads but will be of special relevance to the single dad. Remember, you are half the reason your children exist and they need you whether you live with them or not. As their dad, you have what it takes to make their lives successful and fulfilling no matter how often you see them. This site is about all the positive things that we as parents have to offer our children.
Microblog Microblog

Avoiding pain: Why we stay where it hurts

By Chris Barnardo

A hundred years ago if you asked a psychologist what made individuals to do the same things, good or bad, over and over again, the answer would have been our ”Basic Instincts”. In the 19th Century it was believed that a myriad of innate drives accounted for more or less every repetitive human activity. Today the opposite view is held. Despite the regular discovery of genetic markers for predispositions to almost every type of behaviour, it is generally accepted by the professionals that our highly advanced capability for learning makes the concept of hardwired human instinct largely redundant. The question of whether we are a product of our genes or the result of our upbringing is called the nature - nurture debate and the answer has some important implications for society and how we treat people who do bad things. For many, this is troubling, because if we are all born the same, it logically follows that we all have just as much potential to be a Harold Shipman as we do to be a Mother Teresa, because as the product of our upbringing, it is only the circumstances of our birth which determine our personality and what we are capable of doing with it.
. . . Great minds have argued the nature vs. nurture question since at least the times of Aristotle, but whatever the answer, it doesn’t really address the question of whether, beneath all that, there is a fundamental underlying animal instinct at the root of all human behaviour. Even if you do accept the empiricist’s view of things, that we are born as a blank canvas (tabula rasa), each ready to be inscribed with our unique personality as sketched out by our personal experiences, it must still be the case (as the artist Mark Rothko demonstrated) that the blank canvas itself has a form. Further it would seem reckless to think that evolution hasn’t provided some non-learned, innate drives as an essential indemnity against the vagaries of our upbringings, to ensure that individuals survive long enough to pair up and reproduce, and thus propagate the species.
. . . After some considerable thought I have come to the reductionalist conclusion that there is indeed a single basic human instinct that despite our intelligence drives everything we do throughout our lives: The Avoidance of Pain. It is a simple as that. It’s a drive that’s particularly easy to understand and runs as an obvious survival theme throughout the animal kingdom, unless you subscribe to the rather bizarre (and convenient) notion that animals do not feel pain, in which case it may be rephrased as: The Avoidance of Unpleasant Stimuli.

Figure 1. Avoiding pain: The simple decision
We have evolved to fundamentally avoid pain for obvious reasons
I have tested the theory out on a number of people, and the initial reaction to the idea is always the same:
“Surely pleasure seeking must also be a basic instinct.”
However, that argument is quickly dismissed. After all, seeking pleasure itself is highly unlikely to be a basic drive, because it has no direct evolutionary benefit. Amoebas or ants may or may not feel pleasure, but they certainly must avoid conditions that will harm them, otherwise they would have become extinct. Instead, pleasure may be viewed as a second order reinforcing by-product of critical-to-survival pain avoiding strategies.
. . . In 2003, research psychologists set up an experiment where they monitored their subjects’ brain activity while exposing them to the emotional pain of social exclusion1. The results showed that emotional pain is dealt with in the same areas of the brain that are responsible for processing physical pain, confirming the commonsense notion that being sidelined, ignored or left out can hurt just as much as any physical injury. The research team put forward the suggestion that humans' need for inclusion evolved in response to our reliance on social bonds for survival, where social distance from a group could lead to death. They postulated that we have evolved a sensitivity to anything that would indicate that we're being excluded as an automatic alarm signal for us to re-establish social bonds before we get into trouble on our own.

Figure 2. Avoiding pain: The complex decision
Avoiding pain in bad relationships is complicated by the masking effect that initial isolation and separation pain has on the long term generally reduced pain visibility
I suppose it was obvious all along; we stay where it hurts, because we know it will hurt more if we leave. It’s a bleak conclusion, but just the simple act of reaching it opens the door to a better place. Life is far too short to waste staying where it hurts and certainly far too long spend it all in pain. Once we learn how to see what really lies beyond today’s decisions, I have a feeling that basic human instinct of self preservation will take over and prove that those 19th pioneer psychologists were on to something after all.

1. Naomi I. Eisenberger, Matthew D. Lieberman, Kipling D. Williams, Does Rejection Hurt? An fMRI Study of Social Exclusion, Science, Vol. 302. no. 5643, pp. 290 – 292, 10 October 2003

MicroBlog Archive
WEEK 14, 2009
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WEEK 13, 2009
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WEEK 9, 2009
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WEEK 7, 2009
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WEEK 3, 2009
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WEEK 2, 2009
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WEEK 52, 2008
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WEEK 51, 2008
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WEEK 50, 2008
Finding dad a date: Part 2, The Dates
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WEEK 49, 2008
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WEEK 48, 2008
Christmas and the kids
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WEEK 47, 2008
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10 practical top tips about how plan and negotiate your access over the holidays.
WEEK 46, 2008
Tackling a teenager
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WEEK 45, 2008
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WEEK 44, 2008
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WEEK 43, 2008
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WEEK 42, 2008
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WEEK 41, 2008
Ten great first dates
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WEEK 40, 2008
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WEEK 39, 2008
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WEEK 38, 2008
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WEEK 37, 2008
Ten ways to be positive
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WEEK 36, 2008
10 ways to grow your kids' creativity
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WEEK 35, 2008
Relativity: When dark days feel like months
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WEEK 34, 2008
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WEEK 33, 2008
Avoiding pain: Why we stay where it hurts
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WEEK 32, 2008
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WEEK 31, 2008
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WEEK 30, 2008
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WEEK 29, 2008
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WEEK 28, 2008
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WEEK 27, 2008
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WEEK 26, 2008
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WEEK 25, 2008
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WEEK 24, 2008
Happy 100th Birthday, Father's Day
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