Why making children the centre of your world could ruin your health

Why making children the centre of your world could ruin your health
Mothers who always put their youngsters first were more likely to suffer from stress and depression

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UPDATED:

15:08 GMT, 6 July 2012

Mothers who make their children the centre of their lives could be putting themselves at greater risk of mental health problems, a new study has found.

U.S researchers found women who focus intensively on their little darling and believe they are better parents than fathers are more likely to suffer from stress and depression.

A team led by Kathryn Rizzo from the University of Mary Washington, said parenting requires a wide range of skills and expertise.

The researchers said the women who showed symptoms of depression were far more likely to endorse intensive parenting

The researchers said the women who showed symptoms of depression were far more likely to endorse intensive parenting

Many women idealise parenthood as one of the most fulfilling experiences in life. However, women have reported that taking care of their children is more stressful than being at work.

There have also been suggestions that intensive parenting can result in increased stress and guilt, particularly for women, which is the hypothesis Rizzo and her team set out to test.

Using an online questionnaire,the authors asked 181 mothers of children under five whether they endorsed certain intensive parenting beliefs.

These included that mothers were the most necessary parent, a parents happiness came from their children and that parents should always sacrifice their needs for the needs of the child.

Overall, the women were satisfied with their lives but had moderate levels of stress. However, the fifth of women who had symptoms of depression were far more likely to endorse intensive parenting.

When the level of family support was taken into account, those mothers who believed that women are the essential parent were less satisfied with their lives.

The authors concluded: 'If intensive mothering is related to so many negative mental health outcomes, why do women do it

'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.

'In reality, intensive parenting may have the opposite effect on children from what parents intend.'

The work is published online in Springer's Journal of Child and Family Studies.