As we celebrate Mother’s Day in the UK tomorrow (18 March), new research published in the Journal of Psychological Science, reveals the benefits of motherly love not only in childhood, but also in middle age.
Although children raised in lower socioeconomic families frequently have higher rates of chronic illness in adulthood than their same-age counterparts, it seems that nurturing mothers have a positive impact on their child’s physical health later in life.
Numerous studies have revealed money and access to health care play a very small role in overall health of offspring. However, parents' level of education is a much better indicator of their child’s physical and psychological health in middle age.
This longitudinal study found the stresses of childhood could leave a biological residue that showed up in midlife, but confirmed that adults who had nurturing mothers in childhood fared better in physical health in midlife. Surprisingly however, nurturing fathers did not contribute to better health which has been attributed to the generational differences of fathers reviewed in this study, who were perhaps less involved in their child’s upbringing.
Researchers suggest a combination of empathy, the teaching of coping strategies or support for enrichment may explain the ability of lower socioeconomic status children to escape these health vulnerabilities. They also believe that susceptible families should be taught parenting skills to not only show concern for their children’s welfare, but also demonstrate how to cope with stress and engage in healthy behaviours such as good diet and exercise.
First Psychology runs local counselling and psychology centres in the following locations:
Edinburgh: 0131-668-1440, www.edinburghtherapy.co.uk
Glasgow: 0141-404-5411, www.glasgowpsychology.co.uk
Borders: 01896-800-400, www.borderspsychology.co.uk