Friday, July 25, 2014
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'Tiger moms' hurting themselves?

Helicopter moms, here's news: Practicing "intensive parenting" may be hazardous to your mental health.

'Tiger moms' hurting themselves?

(AP Photo)
(AP Photo)

by Sari Harrar               

Helicopter moms and Tiger moms, here’s news: Practicing “intensive parenting” may be hazardous to your mental health. In a new study from the University of Mary Washington in Virginia, researchers found that women who practiced this style of child-raising were more likely to feel stressed and depressed. They also felt they had less family support. The study was published in the July issue of the Journal of Child and Family Studies. You can read a summary here.

Researchers looked at 181 moms with kids younger than age 5. Using online questionnaires, they asked them how they felt about five intensive-parenting tenets. Among those on board with at least three beliefs, one in four had signs of depression. These moms were less satisfied with their lives and felt more stressed-out.

Intensive parents endorsed some or all of these beliefs: 

  • Moms are the most capable parent.
  • Parents’ happiness mainly comes from their children.
  • Parents should always provide their children with stimulating activities that aid in their development.
  • Parenting is harder than working.
  • A parent should always put her child’s needs ahead of her own.
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The researchers question whether this is really helpful for kids if their mothers are so unhappy. “They may think that it makes them better mothers, so they are willing to sacrifice their own mental health to enhance their children’s cognitive, social and emotional outcomes,” the study authors wrote. “In reality, intensive parenting may have the opposite effect on children from what parents intend.”

What do you think? Is intensive parenting good for kids and for mothers? Does it work if you have support from your family and your community?

About this blog
The Healthy Kids blog is your window into the latest news, research and advice around children's health. Learn more about our growing list of contributors here.

If you have questions about your child's health, ask them here.

Anna Nguyen Healthy Kids blog Editor
Stephen Aronoff, M.D., M.B.A. Temple University Hospital
Peter Bidey, D.O. Medical Director of Family Medicine at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Christopher C. Chang, M.D., Ph.D Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, Jefferson Medical Colg
Mario Cruz, M.D. St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, Drexel University College of Medicine
Katherine K. Dahlsgaard, Ph.D. Lead Psychologist - The Anxiety Behaviors Clinic, CHOP
Gary A. Emmett, M.D. Director of Hospital Pediatrics at TJU Hospital & Pediatrics Professor at Thomas Jefferson Univ.
Lauren Falini Bariatric exercise physiologist, Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children
Hazel Guinto-Ocampo, M.D. Nemours duPont Pediatrics/Bryn Mawr Hospital
Rima Himelstein, M.D. Crozer-Keystone Health System
Jessica Kendorski, PhD, NCSP, BCBA-D Associate Professor in School Psychology/Applied Behavior Analysis at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Anita Kulick President & CEO, Educating Communities for Parenting
Janet Rosenzweig, MS, PhD, MPA VP for Programs & Research for Prevent Child Abuse America
Beth Wallace Smith, R.D. Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
W. Douglas Tynan, Ph.D. Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, Jefferson Medical Colg
Flaura Koplin Winston, M.D., Ph.D Scientific Director of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Center for Injury Research and Prevention
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