Study: Extreme Mothering May Harm Moms and Kids

by , 07/24/12

extreme parenting, attachment parenting, free range kids, stress, stressed moms, moms under stress, stressful parenting, intensive parenting, passive parenting, parenting issues, good moms, bad moms, helicopter moms, helicopter parents, extreme mothers

Mothers who look at parenting as if it’s an extreme sport may be doing more harm than good; both to their kids and themselves. At least that’s the theory behind a new study from the University of Mary Washington. The research shows that a new breed of parenting is taking place in the United States, or what researchers are calling, “intensive parenting.” Intensive parenting is when mothers idealize motherhood and, “Believe that women are better parents than men, that mothering should be child-centred, and that children should be considered sacred and are fulfilling to parents.” When mothers are fully invested in intensive parenting, the researchers report that they may experience detrimental mental health problems such as increased stress levels, depression and guilt.

Are you an extreme mama?

  • 18 Votes Yes - and proud of it.
  • 13 Votes Yes - but it does stress me out - I wish I could learn to let go a bit
  • 95 Votes No - extreme parenting is bad for your mental health.
  • 19 Votes I might be, I'm not sure.

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extreme parenting, attachment parenting, free range kids, stress, stressed moms, moms under stress, stressful parenting, intensive parenting, passive parenting, parenting issues, good moms, bad moms, helicopter moms, helicopter parents, extreme mothers

Image by Flickr User Mish Bradley

Extreme Mothering Results in Stress for Everyone

During the study, which was admittedly small, the researchers looked at 181 mothers of children under 5 years old. Using a simple questionnaire, the authors measured how mothers endorse intensive parenting  and how those beliefs affect them. Most of the women surveyed who were invested in intensive parenting were still satisfied with their lives, but all had moderate levels of stress and depression. Around 23% of intense mothers had symptoms of depression and other negative mental health outcomes were present as well.  Mothers who felt that women should be the most essential parent (say more essential than fathers) were less satisfied with their lives and those who believed that parenting is challenging were more stressed and depressed. Years of past scientific research further shows that when mothers are stressed, depressed or otherwise unhappy, it can affect a child’s mental health negatively, which led the authors of this particular study to conclude that not only is intensive parenting bad for mothers, but it’s likely bad for kids too.

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5 Responses to “Study: Extreme Mothering May Harm Moms and Kids”

  1. yourmomma says:

    Wow. Let’s blame this on a parenting method and children and not a society that places undue stress on women and mothers in general. In a capitalist society where the bread winner holds an unsuspecting power over those who do not bring in the dough, there is going to be stress. Add in all the unknowns because were are going through a society shift, where science tells us some things, but for the most parenting issues, we have to guess. Shit sucks right now for mothers who want to do the best for their children. We have to choose between careers and a plethora of parenting choices, none of which can be substantiated with evidence. And we don’t have a closed society that will choose for us.

    The contents of this research is so pathetic though .Really, you’re going to post an article that will reach million about a study with under 200 participants? Child-centered parenting gets enough shit from authoritarian psychopaths already, pleeease.

  2. tripsmom says:

    @ yourmomma- Exactly!!!!! Thank you so much for saying this.

  3. Shantay says:

    @ yourmomma- That’s what I am screaming!! Why post this crap, bad decision for Inhabitat. Makes me wonder…

  4. Jennifer Chait says:

    Hey all, I don’t think this research is crap – and here is why: This is not the only study of its kind. I’ve read dozens like this over the last decade. This one is small sure, but this issues still reaches parents ears via media (magazines, blogs, peers etc). I do think when mamas do to much it causes stress, not just because of research but because of personal experience. I’m not extreme, but I’ve had that whole, “I can do it best, so why not just do it” feeling when it comes to parenting, and it is stressful.

    Secondly, I wanted to point out that it’s parents peers, and all these debates, not the type of parenting, that tends to stress people out the most. Did no one read the last paragraph? Do you honestly think I’m blaming moms and kids for this problem? I think parenting issues should be more balanced, not all or nothing. Balance is better for everyone – parents and kids.

  5. Warpol says:

    The marriage must come first. When the husband or wife are secondary to the children the marriage will fail.

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