Relationships between mothers and daughters can be contentious at times.
Although it’s somewhat of a stereotype, there’s a widespread belief that men can sometimes have friction with their fathers and women can have friction with their mothers. Although these relationships are also loving and fulfilling over the course of a whole lifetime, it can be a little disheartening when our parents are overbearing or try to give us too much advice. If you ask them about it, though, they’ll usually say that they’re just looking out for us or they’re only doing it because they love us.
As it turns out, though, some of that criticism may have benefits for daughters in the long haul.
According to a recent study done by the University of Essex, daughters with moms who nagged them ended up more successful than those who didn’t.
Still, we should probably clarify some of what successful means in this context and how the study was conducted. For starters, the research was based on the experiences of some 15,500 female students, ages 13 to 14, in England between 2004 and 2010. To be more precise about what success meant in this study, it was measured primarily by how many teenagers ended up become teen mothers as well as how many went on to higher education.
When framed that way, the results may or may not surprise you.
The research found that teenage girls who had parents with higher expectations were less likely to become teen moms and more likely to go to higher education.
Generally speaking, parents who set stricter expectations for their daughters and encouraged them to do well in school helped their daughters avoid getting pregnant as teens. Numerically, that change represented a 4% decrease in teen pregnancy among those who had “nagging” mothers compared to those who didn’t. Because the adolescent birthrates in Britain are some of the highest in Europe, this discovery was definitely pertinent information.
The results of the paper were also shared with the Royal Economic Society.
For their part, the researchers also had some of their own interpretations to add about the data in the study.
Researcher Ericka Rascon-Ramirez commented on just how this behavior affected in teens in ways they might not’ve expected:
“In many cases we succeeded in doing what we believed was more convenient for us, even when this was against our parents’ will. But no matter how hard we tried to avoid our parents’ recommendations, it is likely that they ended up influencing, in a more subtle manner, choices that we had considered extremely personal.
What our parents expected about our school choices was, very likely, a major determinant of our decisions about conceiving a child or not during our teenage years.”
Though the study may very well be influenced by cultural factors as well, the results remain pretty interesting.
Part of the issue researched is how things that seem unconnected can actually be related.
Though it seems relatively obvious when you think about it, having a baby as a teen can have all kinds of other trickle-down effects. Likely because of the various stresses put on teen mothers, they’re more likely to have chronic health issues, make less money and have worse grades than their childless counterparts. While the definition of “success” in life is certainly broader than how much money someone makes, the study seems to suggest that parental criticism and “nagging” could help us have an easier time fitting into standard social values.
And there’s definitely something to be said for that.
Needless to say, all the critical parents around the world are rejoicing upon hearing this news.
Interestingly enough, the study also found that it was mothers specifically who had more of an effect on their daughters in the scenario outlined above than fathers did… though who knows what the results would’ve been if it were the other way around. Though these studies are interesting, it’s important to take them with several grains of salt.
Firstly, the study is limited to a certain age range of a certain gender in a certain place in the world with specific cultural values. Secondly, the way they measured “success” is certainly up for debate and thirdly, what constitutes a “nagging” parent? This study should not be taken as a free pass to walk all over your kids. Still, it turns out that pressuring your children to achieve more and setting boundaries can definitely be a beneficial thing.
What do you think about the results of this study? Let us know in the comments below.
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