Amolika's Life Story Book Assignment One- Information Booklet- Lifespan and Development

There are many life stages and milestones which every human goes through and there are also challenges posed by these milestones which can directly influence development or have a later influence in life. There are many concepts and theories which can be used to argue against or compliment why or how these challenges influence development the way they do, from the Nature/Nurture debate contrasting between parental upbringing and relationships to behaviours and influences been innate and down to genetics alongside the biological approach which compliments nature whereas the humanism and behavioural approach works in favour of nurture. Viewing development in regards to Static theory allows individuals to create a sense of structure in terms of outlining development whereas the Dynamic theory would allow them to view development as slowed and incremental. Discussion of supporting concepts and theories is key to gain an in-depth understanding as to why certain events may occur but also why they have the influence which they do on development.

Amolika Raham, 1946, was born in Goalundo Ghat, a small village in Bangladesh. She was widowed by the age of 18 after marrying as child. Throughout her life, Amolika was faced with many challenges which she had to overcome, not only challenges posed through life actions and choices but also those posed through life stages and development.

The pre-natal stage of life is the very start of the developmental process. The first two weeks after conception are known as the germinal stage; the third through the eighth week are known as the embryonic period, and the time from the ninth week until birth is known as the foetal period. During pregnancy, the foetus is biologically and physically changing constantly. Bangladesh was in political turmoil through the late 1930’s to the 1940’s resulting in a vast number of people living in poverty whilst trying to maintain their culture and heritage. Studies show that those living in poverty are more likely to display negative behaviours such as smoking and bad eating habits. Amolikas mother smoked regularly throughout her pregnancy as there was not any information or guidance to suggest that this could be detrimental and could be seen as the main reason in why Amolika was born prematurely. Concepts, such as the Nature debate, would argue that the effects on the unborn foetus was down to nature as the effects of smoking could have possible biological and cognitive influences. Whereas the Nurture debate would argue that it was Amolikas mother’s environment and decisions which had a greater influence on why she smoked continuously through her pregnancy. Bandura (1963) would argue that through the process of nurture, smoking could be something which Amolika would imitate as a social behaviour through the process of observational learning. Therefore, smoking has not only influenced Amolikas pre-natal development but could also impact her development through later life stages.

Amolika did not have an advantaged start in life, of the 60% of babies born prematurely across African and Asian countries, she was one of them. Due to her family been of low income and living in poverty, infections and chronic conditions were hard to keep at bay and caused Amolika to be born at 34 weeks. Amolikas development through infancy was slower than most, as she did not hit the expected milestones at the right time. Although physically she was strong, running walking and crawling as expected at 18 months, her intellectual, social, and emotional milestones took slightly longer to achieve. Many of the influencing factors as to why Amolikas development was slowed could be down to the social and cultural influences of her family living in a poor and remote area of Bangladesh and the fact she was premature. It could be argued that nature played a considerable part in Amolikas premature birth and slowed development as she was born into an environment that was out of her control however in contrast to that it could be suggested the way in which Amolikas parents nurtured her household and environment prior to her birth rather than improving on the situation and bettering the wider detriments could suggest that she was nurtured into her life.

Through Amolikas early childhood education and interaction with other children should have played an influential part in helping development however due to her families’ belief and social standing, education was not something which was easily accessible. School and social situations allow children to develop their physical skills through improving their co-ordination and control and their psychological development through understanding of the concepts and feelings of others whilst also allowing them to form their self- concept from the relationships formed. Amolika found it very difficult to form long lasting relationships through her life as she was unable to look back on any childhood memories to a point where she had. Cultural influences played a large part in why Amolika did not have chance at an education, as been a wife and bringing up a family it at the forefront of Muslim cultures within Bangladesh, even more so in the 1940’s when Muslim ideology was extremely prominent. Culture dictated that it was more important for women to be prepared for motherhood and marriage than it was to gain an education and a career. Amolikas development could be explained through the Continuity theory as her development has been slow and showed no defined stages complimented by the Idiographic theory centring on a purer concept of how influential factors may have affected Amolikas psychological development as different developments occur at different times in accordance to the individual. Piaget (1936) regarded cognitive development as a process which is constantly developing due to biological maturation and interaction with the environment which support my previous point on how Amolikas psychological development could be deficient due to poor interaction with peers and an unstable deprived environment.

As children develop further through childhood they refine their developmental milestones further in terms of their physical, cognitive, affective, and social development. This life stage is in preparation for adolescence, the physical changes which come with puberty which also have effects on cognitions and how affective children are at communicating, all play vital parts in developing through society. Amolikas culture dictates her development significantly as because where most children are developing through school and forming relationships, it was not the case for her. At the end of childhood Amolika would have been prepared for marriage and the upkeep of a house as the cultural influence of not only her parents but also society made it difficult for her to gain an education. Due to Amolikas family’s financial circumstances, this forced arrange marriage for the purpose of dowry, which is usually land or animals, which could allow the family to better their circumstances at the cost of their daughter. These cultural and social influences not only had an impact upon Amolikas psychological development but also her social development as she did not get the chance to form relationships with other children of a similar age. The Discontinuity theory could be used to explain this process as it views development as being very abrupt stages which isn’t based on previous learning and within Muslim culture, young girls are expected to grow up extremely quickly for marriage preparations, meaning that their childhood ends very sharply. Nurture has also influenced Amolikas life stage development as the culture and environment which she has been brought up in has directly influenced the way in which she not only lives but also develops mentally and socially. Magnusson & Stattin (2006) suggest from a holistic point of view, biological, psychological, and social factors operate together to produce growth and change through reciprocal interaction with the environment, a process that starts at conception and goes on throughout the life span.

One of the most significant milestones which mark adolescence is the significant physical changes which come with the onset of puberty, include hair growth and growth spurts. As well as changes in an individual’s appearance there are also changes to their cognitive and socio-emotional development. Cognitively the brain is growing and developing whilst socio-emotionally environmental factors play the most influential part as adolescents begin to develop a sense of self and identity whilst taking on new responsibilities. For Amolika, her adolescent develop was different from most. Married at 13, traditional cultures and concomitant social norms dictated that she acts in the way a wife would rather than as a teenager. These influences meant that physically and socially Amolika had to act in a way, where-as cognitively she was still developing through feelings, emotions, and coherent understanding of situations. Not only did culture and social pressure have an influence on aspects of Amolikas development but if her family were living in a less rural and a more economically developed area then she possibly would have had more change to develop through her life and reach milestones in accordance. Due to marrying in childhood there is almost an immediate pressure to produce children within the Muslim culture as to prove a woman’s worth, so by the age of 15 Amolika was carrying her first child after suffering two previous miscarriages which again would have caused not just physical strain on her development but also psychological. Nomothetic theories of development can be linked closely with Amolikas adolescent development as it would look for an occurring phenomena between poverty, child marriage and child pregnancy whilst giving a general view over the explanations and generalised effects that this has where-as the Idiographic theory of development would give a more pure concept of the development and the affect all of these influences have had on Amolikas psychological development at the different times it has occurred.

For most, the beginning of adulthood is the time in life where you are settled down with a career and a family, whilst intellectual development continues, social and emotional developments thrive through independence, networks, and the new formation of relationships. Unfortunately for Amolika, she was widowed by the age of 18 and left with an infant child. Due to not gaining an education it was hard for Amolika to have a secure career causing financial difficulties and continuing to live in poverty. Amolika continued to smoke through her adult life causing various health issues, which could be drawn into the nurture theory as it was a behaviour which she was brought up around and eventually imitated. Muslim culture makes it extremely hard for widows to remarry as they are viewed as an omen within society so are ostracised and usually have very little or no support networks in place. Psychologically these cultural and behavioural influences had a substantial effect on Amolikas development as it left her feeling very segregated and alone with very little skills or knowledge, which most adults would have developed and extended through their education and socialising. The Stage Development theory suggests that development builds upon previous stages and is unique to an individual meaning that although Amolikas development has been slowed in some stages and it was very abrupt during her adolescent years, now in adulthood she is having to overcome previous influences to try and modify and build up on her development not only as an individual but also within society. Shanahan, McHale, Osgood, & Crouter (2007) suggest that the relationships formed through adolescent years will have a significant impact on them later in life in regards to how successful the relationships and social structure which they form are, which could be used to explain why Amolika has no social standing or support networks.

Physical development is one of the most obvious changes through middle adult hood. The appearance of wrinkles and the loss of skin elasticity is one of the main differences which people refer to when talking about growing old. Amolika faced the same changes however hers were heightened through behaviours such a smoking and an insubstantial diet, and whilst most people in middle adulthood are married and have no instinct feelings to find an alternative partner, this issue causes Amolika emotional distress, as since been widowed she has yet to remarry, mainly down to culture and societal pressures to act in the expected way a widow should. Not only does Amolika suffer from depression she also must decide whether culture and society are going to dictate the way in which her daughter lives her life. Theorists suggests that by nurturing her daughter in the right this way would allow her to gain and education and break the cycle of poverty however environmental and social factors could mean that Amolikas daughter also marries young to gain financial stability but also for the dowry to support her mother’s life. Psychosocial theories of development, such as Erik Erikson suggests that the ego develops as it successfully resolves difficulties that are distinctly social in nature. These involve establishing a sense of trust in others, developing a sense of identity in society, and helping the next generation prepare for the future. Amolika was unable to gain this sense of trust with others and unable to develop a sense of her own identity as she was quickly known as a 'wife' which could mean that this is another reason why Amolika has psychological and social problems as she has very little trust for society or her environment.

Emotional and psychological stability vary through late adulthood. For most it is the opportunity to accept life as being fulfilling and having meaning or contemplating their life as being unfulfilling and feeling despair. Erik Erikson (1902-1994) suggested a framework for development and he described the last stage of life as conflicts between integrity and despair, and unfortunately for Amolika it was the latter. Most individuals at a later stage of life will suffer with bone and joint problems, however Amolikas difficulties were heightened through early childbearing which caused a considerable amount of strain on her body at the time and continues to do so through her later life. Environmental factors also played a part in Amolika experiencing despair rather than integrity as in 2004 Bangladesh was at the centre of a Tsunami, resulting in catastrophic effects on the environment, housing and financial stability of most. This affected not only Amolikas physical development but also her cognitive as because she had no support networks in place it was hard for her to overcome the effects of the Tsunami, physically and emotionally. Primary aging, or inevitable changes in the body, occurs regardless of human behaviour. Grey hair, wrinkles, visible blood vessels on the skin, and fat deposits on your chin or abdomen affect those in this age group however Amolikas behaviours through her life such as smoking and poor eating habitats have heightened secondary aging as in combination with primary aging the risk of these illnesses that typically affect older adults are greater. The Nurture debate would strongly argue that Amolikas later life and her development is strongly associated with the way in which she was brought up and the environment which she was exposed to however in contrast to that the Nature debate would argue that the effects of the tsunami had the most considerable impact as they influenced the stability which she had in her later life, through the destruction of her house and village around her.


Created with images by Monoar - "village bangladesh nature" • ASaber91 - "Bangladesh" • - "untitled image"

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