Mummy’s boys are ‘less likely to have mental health issues’, study finds
- Boys close to their mothers are are less likely to have mental health problems
- Daughters close to their fathers are fare better at coping with teen life
- The biggest factor affecting teenage mental health was family breakdown
They may be the stereotypical butt of jokes. But mummy’s boys are less likely to suffer from poor mental health or unpopularity at school, research suggests.
And the same is true for daddy’s girls, who enjoy a similar lift in their self-esteem and confidence.
The study by the Marriage Foundation concluded that boys and girls who are close to their parent of the opposite sex fare better at coping with teenage life.
The study by the Marriage Foundation concluded that boys and girls who are close to their parent of the opposite sex fare better at coping with teenage life
Boys deemed ‘extremely close’ to their mothers at 14 are 41 per cent less likely to have mental health problems, the research found.
And girls close to their fathers are 44 per cent less likely to suffer emotional problems or have trouble with their peers.
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While boys are happier when their parents are married, girls are more reassured by their parents demonstrating a high-quality relationship.
The analysis, which uses Millennium Cohort Study data from 11,000 mothers, found that the biggest factor affecting teenage mental health was family breakdown.
Harry Benson, research director of Marriage Foundation, who co-authored the study with Professor Steve McKay from the University of Lincoln, said: ‘Our analysis shows once again that family breakdown remains the number one driver of teenage mental health problems.
While boys are happier when their parents are married, girls are more reassured by their parents demonstrating a high-quality relationship
‘Our really interesting new finding is that boys and girls are especially influenced by their relationship with the opposite sex parent.
‘Boys who are close to their mum tend to have better mental health, as do girls who are close to their dad.
‘The fact that these links only apply to one parent and not both suggests that it’s the closeness with parents that affects the child’s mental health and not the other way around.
In addition, boys are affected by whether their parents are married and happy whereas girls are more affected by whether their parents have avoided physical force, poor quality relationship, or low income. So boys seem to be looking for signs of clarity whereas girls are looking for anything that might make relationships difficult.
‘We think this is the first study to connect how the relationships that children experience at home are setting them up for their own future relationships as adults.’
Sir Paul Coleridge, chairman of Marriage Foundation, said: ‘“Mummy’s boys” and “daddy’s girls” have been known about for generations as something of a stereotypical joke.
‘But it seems that once again research supports anecdotal experience. Girls and boys, as they develop, do indeed have differing emotional needs and expectations and do best when these needs are satisfied.
‘A strong relationship with the parent of the opposite sex boosts self-esteem and peer group relationship skills – both of which support sound mental health.
‘Obviously in families that remain together, not only is the trauma of family break-up averted, but also children have a far better chance of maintaining appropriately strong relationship with both parents.’
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