According to a new study published in the latest online issue of the Journal of Child and Family Studies, it would appear that the intensive style of parenting some mothers engage in can be very damaging to their mental health.
Supermoms, tiger moms and helicopter moms are becoming usual terms in the United States, and they all reflect certain trends in parenting styles among new mothers. The research that arrived at this conclusion was carried out by University of Mary Washington (UMW) expert Katherine Rizzo, PhD.
Some of the most common side effects of this style of parenting are increased levels of stress and depression, the scientists report. They explain that being involved in a child's life at all times, with extreme dedication, can lead to anxiety and the development of mental distress.
Helicopter parents are so called because they tend to hover around their children, monitoring every step the young ones make. Similarly, intensive parenting is an approach to raising kids that relies heavily on the advice of experts.
One of the main assumptions it makes is that the mother is always the essential parent, the one that is most involved. In addition, intensive parenting does not stop when the kid grows up, but rather continues well into their teenage years, PsychCentral
The new investigation was carried out on a number of 181 mothers, each of whom had children under the age of 5. Researchers were specifically interested in finding out why intensive parenting made the women depressed, and experience lowered well-being levels, but not regular parenting.
Some of the women in the study have reported that raising their children in this manner was more stressful than going to work every day. But this finding produces a parenting paradox.
While many people want to have children because they believe this will make them happy, many actually report reduced levels of life satisfaction after a child is born. Conversely, other studies found that being a parent increases life satisfaction. Why the difference, researchers asked.
The team was unable to find an exact answer to this question. “If intensive mothering is related to so many negative mental health outcomes, why do women do it?” they rhetorically wrote in the journal.
“In reality, intensive parenting may have the opposite effect on children from what parents intend,” the research group concludes.