Don't worry – being a 'good enough' parent is actually good enough, study finds
Prone to suffering from the aul' mum guilt from time to time?
We all are.
That constant worry, that we are not doing enough, doing our best, when it comes to taking care of or raising our kids, it's something that, to an extent anyway, affects us all – especially mums, I think.
And even after giving them everything, we will still try to do more. Such is life as a mum.
But maybe it's time to take some pressure off ourselves? What if we didn't need to do quite as much to ensure that our children are happy?
According to a study from Lehigh University researchers found that parents only need to "get it right" 50 percent of the time to create a positive impact on their babies. So, if you give your kids a positive response to their need for you half the time, you're good.
That's right. You don't need to be 'Super Mum' at all times – your kids are going to turn out just fine regardless.
*Collective sigh of relief, everyone.
To be clear, this study focused on parents of infants, with all the demands that come with being the parent of an infant and that feeling of never being or doing enough, but we reckon it can be applied to parenting in general.
Susan Woodhouse, an associate professor of counselling psychology and researcher at Lehigh University led the study. Studying 83 lower-income mother and babies at the ages of 4.5, 7, 9 and 12 months, they used the check-ins to observe the attachment between mother and infant. The infants chosen were selected for "high levels of temperamental irritability."
In the study, the mothers and babies were scored based on how the mother responded to the baby's cries, but also when they weren't crying. This was to assess the "secure base provision," the bond infants have with their primary caregiver. A caregiver's ability to understand the needs of an infant and then act upon it, -- their "sensitivity," has been given a lot of significance. But studies show that it actually accounts for a very low percentage of attachment. And even lower still in low-income families.
"If we want to give advice to parents about what they can do to give their baby the best start in life, it would be really good to know what helps a baby to be secure," Woodhouse said about the study.
Using this as a focus, the research looked at an infant's ability to tell if a caregiver is a secure base. Meaning, if the caregiver can soothe a crying baby or provide them with a "safe base from which to explore." The research showed that babies figured out their moms were a safe base if they could assess their needs 50 percent of the time.
"The findings provide evidence for the validity of a new way of conceptualising the maternal caregiving quality that actually works for low-income families," Woodhouse said.