Insight into the Parenthood Paradox: Mental Health Outcomes of Intensive Mothering
Purchase on Springer.com
$39.95 / €34.95 / £29.95*
Rent the article at a discountRent now
* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.
Though people often report wanting to have children because they think it will make them happier, much research suggests that parenting is associated with decreased well-being. Other studies have found that parenting is related to increased life satisfaction. The goal of this study was to provide insight into this paradox by investigating the relationship between a specific way of parenting, intensive parenting, and maternal mental health. An online survey was completed by 181 mothers with children ages 5 and under. Intensive mothering beliefs correlated with several negative mental health outcomes. Controlling for perceived family social support, the belief that women are the essential parent was related to lower life satisfaction and believing that parenting is challenging was related to greater depression and stress. The results of this study suggest that aspects of intensive mothering beliefs are detrimental to women’s mental health. It may not be parenting per se, but specific and particularly intensive ways of parenting, that relate to negative mental health outcomes.
- Arendell, T. (2000). Conceiving and investigating motherhood: The decade’s scholarship. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 62, 1192–1207. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3737.2000.01192.x. CrossRef
- Baumeister, R. F. (1991). Meanings of life. New York: Guilford.
- Bayer, J. K., Sanson, A. V., & Hemphill, S. A. (2006). Parent influences on early childhood internalizing difficulties. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 27, 542–559. CrossRef
- Beardslee, W. R., Bemporad, J., Keller, M. B., & Klerman, G. L. (1983). Children of parents with major affective disorder: A review. American Journal of Psychiatry, 140, 825–832.
- Canty-Mitchell, J., & Zimet, G. D. (2000). Psychometric properties of the multidimensional scale of perceived social support in urban adolescents. American Journal of Community Psychology, 28, 391–400. doi:10.1023/A:1005109522457.
- Cohen, S., Kamarck, T., & Mermelstein, R. (1983). A global measure of perceived stress. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 24, 385–396. CrossRef
- Cummings, E. M., & Davies, P. T. (1994). Maternal depression and child development. Journal of Child Psychological Psychiatry, 35, 73–112. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7610.1994.tb01133.x. CrossRef
- Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2008). Facilitating optimal motivation and psychological well-being across life’s domains. Canadian Psychology/Psychologie Canadienne, 49, 14–23. doi:10.1037/0708-55220.127.116.11. CrossRef
- Diener, E., Emmons, R. A., Larsen, R. J., & Griffin, S. (1985). The satisfaction with life scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 49, 71–75. doi:10.1207/s15327752jpa4901_13.
- Dykstra, P. A., & Keizer, R. (2009). The wellbeing of childless men and fathers in mid-life. Ageing & Society, 29, 1227–1242. doi:10.1017/S0144686X08008374. CrossRef
- Elvin-Nowak, Y. (1999). The meaning of guilt: A phenomenological description of employed mothers’ experiences of guilt. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 40, 73–83. doi:10.1111/1467-9450.00100.
- Evenson, R. J., & Simon, R. W. (2005). Clarifying the relationship between parenthood and depression. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 46, 341–358. doi:10.1177/002214650504600403. CrossRef
- Gaunt, R. (2008). Maternal Gatekeeping: Antecedents and consequences. Journal of Family Issues, 29, 373–395. doi:10.1177/0192513X07307851. CrossRef
- Guendouzi, J. (2005). “I feel quite organized this morning”: How mothering is achieved through talk. Sexualities, Evolution, & Gender, 7, 17–35. doi:10.1080/14616660500111107. CrossRef
- Hansen, T., Slagsvold, B., & Moum, T. (2009). Childlessness and psychological well-being in midlife and old age: An examination of parental status effects across a range of outcomes. Social Indicators Research, 94, 319–342. doi:10.1007/s11205-008-9426-1. CrossRef
- Haslam, D. M., Pakenham, K. I., & Smith, A. (2006). Social support and postpartum depressive symptomatology: The mediating role of maternal self-efficacy. Infant Mental Health Journal, 27, 276–291. doi:10.1002/imhj.20092. CrossRef
- Hays, S. (1996). The cultural contradictions of motherhood. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
- Johnston, D. D., & Swanson, D. D. (2006). Constructing the “good mother”: The experience of mothering ideologies by work status. Sex Roles, 54, 509–519. doi:10.1007/s11199-006-9021-3. CrossRef
- Kahneman, D., Krueger, A. B., Schkade, D. A., Schwarz, N., & Stone, A. A. (2004). A survey method for characterizing daily life experience: The day reconstruction method. Science, 306, 1776–1780. doi:10.1126/science.1103572. CrossRef
- Kandel, D. B., Davies, M., & Raveis, V. H. (1985). The stressfulness of daily social roles for women: Marital, occupational, and household roles. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 26, 64–78. doi:10.2307/2136727. CrossRef
- Koropeckyj-Cox, T. (1998). Loneliness and depression in middle and old age: Are the childless more vulnerable? The Journals of Gerontology: Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 53B, S303–S2312. CrossRef
- Lareau, A. (2002). Invisible inequality: Social class and childrearing in black families and white families. American Sociological Review, 67, 747–776. CrossRef
- Lazarus, R. S., & Folkman, S. (1984). Stress, appraisal and coping. New York: Springer.
- Levy-Shiff, R., Dimitrovksy, L., Shulman, S., & Har-Even, D. (1998). Cognitive appraisals, coping strategies, and support resources as correlates of parenting and infant development. Developmental Psychology, 34, 1417–1427. doi:10.1037/0012-1618.104.22.1687. CrossRef
- Liss, M., Schiffrin, H. H., Mackintosh, V. H., Miles-McLean, H. & Erchull, M. J. (2012). Development and validation of a quantitative measure of intensive parenting attitudes. Journal of Child and Family Studies. doi:10.1007/s10826-012-9616-y.
- Logsdon, M. C., Birkimer, J. C., & Barbee, A. P. (1997). Social support providers to postpartum women. Journal of Social Behaviour and Personality, 12, 89–102.
- Lyubomirsky, S., King, L., & Diener, E. (2005). The benefits of frequent positive affect: Does happiness lead to success? Psychological Bulletin, 131, 803–855. CrossRef
- Mathiesen, K. S., Tambs, K., & Dalgard, O. S. (1999). The influence of social class, strain, and social support on symptoms of anxiety and depression in mothers of toddlers. Social Psychiatry Psychiatric Epidemiology, 34, 61–72. doi:10.1007/s001270050113. CrossRef
- Mistry, R., Stevens, G. D., Sareen, H., De Vogli, R., & Halfon, N. (2007). Parenting-related stressors and self-reported mental health of mothers with young children. American Journal of Public Health, 97, 1261–1268. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2006.088161. CrossRef
- Nomaguchi, K. M., & Milkie, M. A. (2003). Costs and rewards of children: The effects of becoming a parent on adults’ lives. Journal of Marriage and Family, 65, 356–374. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3737.2003.00356.x. CrossRef
- Parks, P., Lenz, E. R., & Jenkins, L. (1992). The role of social support and stressors for mothers and infants. Child: Care, Health and Development, 18, 151–171. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2214.1992.tb00349.x. CrossRef
- Pavot, W., & Diener, E. (1993). Review of the satisfaction with life scale. Psychological Assessments, 5, 164–172. CrossRef
- Radloff, L. S. (1977). The CES-D Scale: a self-report depression scale for research in the general population. Applied Psychological Measurement, 1, 385–401. CrossRef
- Reifman, A., Biernat, M., & Lang, E. L. (1991). Stress, social support, and health in married professional women with young children. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 15, 431–445. doi:10.1111/j.1471-6402.1991.tb00419.x. CrossRef
- Sutherland, J. (2010). Mothering, guilt and shame. Sociology Compass, 4, 310–321. doi:10.1111/j.1751-9020.2010.00283.x. CrossRef
- Terry, D., Rawle, R., & Callan, V. (1995). The effects of social support on adjustment to stress: The mediating role of coping. Personal Relationships, 2, 97–124. doi:10.1111/j.1475-6811.1995.tb00080.x. CrossRef
- Tummala-Narra, P. (2009). Contemporary impingements on mothering. The American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 69, 4–21. doi:10.1057/ajp.2008.37. CrossRef
- Umberson, D., & Gove, W. R. (1989). Parenthood and psychological well-being: Theory, measurement and stage in the family life course. Journal of Family Issues, 10, 440–462. CrossRef
- Wall, G. (2010). Mothers’ experiences with intensive parenting and brain development discourse. Women’s Studies International Forum, 33, 253–263. doi:10.1016/j.wsif.2010.02.019.
- Zimet, G. D., Dahlem, N. W., Zimet, S. G., & Farley, G. K. (1988). The multidimensional scale of perceived social support. Journal of Personality Assessment, 52, 30–41. doi:10.1207/s15327752jpa5201_2.
- Insight into the Parenthood Paradox: Mental Health Outcomes of Intensive Mothering
Journal of Child and Family Studies
Volume 22, Issue 5 , pp 614-620
- Cover Date
- Print ISSN
- Online ISSN
- Springer US
- Additional Links
- Intensive parenting
- Life satisfaction
- Family social support