Child-centric parents ‘happier’
Thursday 31st October 2013, 5:01PM GMT.
Helicopter parents get a buzz from hovering over their children which makes their lives happier and more meaningful, say psychologists.
A study found that, contrary to popular believe, sacrificing time, money, and personal pleasures for your children does not undermine a parent’s well-being.
On the contrary, “child-centric” parents derived more happiness and meaning from parenthood than those who were less involved.
The researchers also investigated links between “child centrism” – placing your children at the centre of your life – and different types of involved parenting, usually depicted in a negative way.
Child centrism was associated both with protective “helicopter parents” who constantly try to resolve their children’s problems and prevent them coming to harm, and “little emperor” parents who spoil their children with material goods.
But child-centric parents did not have an increased tendency to engage in “concerted cultivation” by scheduling extra-curricular schooling, tutoring and coaching for their children.
They were also slightly less likely than average to be demanding “tiger parents” who insist on exceptional achievements from their children.
Researchers led by Dr Clare Ashton-James, from VU University Amsterdam in the Netherlands, conducted two psychological studies with a total of 322 parents.
In one, participants were asked questions about their parenting style and rated for child centrism. They then took part in a survey to measure the happiness and meaning they experienced from having children.
The second study asked parents to list their activities from the previous day and report how they felt during each one.
The findings showed that more child-centric parents had greater positive feelings, fewer negative feelings, and experienced more meaning in life during child care activities.
“A controversial feature of modern parenting is child centrism, the tendency for parents to prioritise their children’s well-being above their own,” the researchers wrote in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.
“It has been suggested that child-centric parenting in its various forms may undermine parental well-being. Contrary to popular belief, more child-centric parents reported deriving more happiness and meaning from parenthood.”