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Women who had too much responsibility as kids may be lukewarm moms, study says
New research says that new moms who had a lot of responsibility as children may be less warm with their own children than moms whose childhoods were more playful and less demanding. - photo by Lois M. Collins
Moms who had a lot of duties and responsibilities when they were growing up are less attentive to their young children's needs, compared with moms who were more carefree when they were young.

That's according to new research that says "parentification" tasking children with child care, cleaning, cooking, meeting others' emotional needs has a chilling impact on future parenthood because the new mothers know less about child development and are not as warm toward their children. They are less likely to prioritize their babies' needs over their own.

The study is online in the Journal of Family Psychology (paywall).

"The research paper, from Michigan State University (MSU), surveyed 374 pregnant low-income women and then monitored their parenting style for 18 months. Those whose childhoods were burdensome seemed to regard their babys needs as oppressive and were less likely to put aside their own needs to care for their kids," wrote Time's Belinda Luscombe.

If your childhood was defined by parents expecting you to perform too much caregiving without giving you the chance to develop your own self-identity, that might lead to confusion about appropriate expectations for children and less accurate knowledge of their developmental limitations and needs as infants, said Amy K. Nuttall, assistant professor in MSUs Department of Human Development and Family Studies and lead author on the study, in a Michigan State news release.

If mothers dont understand their childrens needs, Nuttall concluded, theyre not able to respond to them appropriately.

The authors suggested that classes particularly before a child's birth could be helpful. It is less likely a new mom will attend a class after, they noted.

Co-authors are University of Notre Dame researchers Kristin Valentino, Lijuan Wang, Jennifer Burke Lefever and John Borkowski.