Mum's affection can boost a child's health for life, study shows
Forever kissing and cuddling your kids? Good.
By being affectionate with your children, you are literally investing in their happiness and overall health for life, a study confirms.
Researchers from Michigan State University recently analysed data from the National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States, and the Health and Retirement Study, and what they found was that children growing up with loving mothers are both happier and healthier in later life.
Combined, these studies included more than 22,000 people, and the research was published recently in the journal Health Psychology.
The first study followed adults in their mid-40s for 18 years, while the second followed those aged 50 or over for six years.
And what the researchers discovered, was that the adults who recall their mums as being highly affectionate were far more likely to be disease-free and less at risk of depression.
To investigate the importance of a parent's affection, the participants were asked how much their parents understood their problems as children, as well as how much affection they gave and how much they tried to teach them about the world.
Study participants were also asked if they had been diagnosed with up to 27 conditions, including thyroid disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.
Depressive symptoms were assessed by asking if they had experienced any of the following in the past two weeks - loss of interest in things, low energy, poor appetite, insomnia, reduced concentration, sadness and thoughts about death.
And don't think that fathers aren't important too: Having supportive, loving fathers also reduced their risk of depressive symptoms.
However, the results were not completely straightforward, with a reduced risk of chronic diseases only being found in the first study.
Lead study author, Dr William Chopik, explains:
"We know memory plays a huge part in how we make sense of the world - how we organise our past experiences and how we judge how we should act in the future," says Chopik.
"As a result, there are a lot of different ways that our memories of the past can guide us. We found good memories seem to have a positive effect on health and well-being, possibly through the ways that they reduce stress or help us maintain healthy choices in life."
He added: "The most surprising finding was we thought the effects would fade over time because participants were trying to recall things that happened sometimes over 50 years ago. One might expect childhood memories to matter less and less over time, but these memories still predicted better physical and mental health when people were in middle age and older adulthood."
So there you go – if you ever needed another excuse to keep snuggling your babies!