Mothers who favor their children may not be doing them any favors

Mothers Who Favor Their Children May Not Be Doing Them Any Favors

New research suggests that children favored by their mothers over other siblings may not be the most psychologically healthy.

Purdue sociology professor Jill Suitor said, "There is a cost for those who perceive they are the closest emotionally to their mothers, and these children report higher depressive symptoms, as do those who experience the greatest conflict with their mothers or who believe they are the children in whom their mothers are the most disappointed."

Publishing in the Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, researchers from Purdue University and Iowa State University studied 725 adult children spanning 309 families over seven-year intervals beginning in 2001.

Their study relied upon the metrics of emotional closeness, conflict, pride and disappointment to determine favoritism and the lack thereof.

Megan Gilligan, an assistant professor in human development and family studies at Iowa State, noted, "This cost comes from higher sibling tension experienced by adult children who are favored for emotional closeness, or the greater feelings of responsibility for the emotional care of their older mothers."

The team is currently working on ways to predict mother-adult favoritism. But dads aren't entirely off the hook. They're also looking at similar issues involving fathers.

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