Children of parents who are warmer and less controlling grow up happier, a new study finds.
In contrast, parents who are overly controlling tend to bring up children with worse mental well-being.
Dr Mai Stafford, one of the study’s authors, said:
“We found that people whose parents showed warmth and responsiveness had higher life satisfaction and better mental wellbeing throughout early, middle and late adulthood.”
The study tracked 5,362 people from their birth in 1946.
Over sixty years later, 2,000 of them completed a series of follow-up surveys including one asking about how controlling their parents were.
Controlling parents did not allow their children to make their own decisions and fostered too much dependence on them.
Controlling parents also invaded their children’s privacy and didn’t allow them to have their own opinions.
The negative effect of controlling parents was still felt by people in their 60s.
The researchers likened the damaging effect to the death of a loved one.
The other problematic factor — lack of parental warmth — makes it difficult to have a strong bond with parents.
A strong emotional attachment to parents provides a better base from which children can explore the world.
The study was published in The Journal of Positive Psychology (Stafford et al., 2015).
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
Parent image from Shutterstock