A growing body of research is finding that the way parents relate to their children affects more than their mental and emotional health. It also has an impact on their physical well-being.
In a recent study, researchers compared five separate parenting styles. One in particular—called poor monitoring and supervision—was associated with higher levels of inflammation and an overactive immune-system response in the children. Although both are risk factors for certain conditions such as cardiovascular disease, the research would have to follow the children for many years to know if they had an increased chance of developing such disorders.
Parents categorized for poor monitoring and supervision scored high on a questionnaire on issues such as whether they check to see if their child comes home on time and not telling their children where they’re going.
“These are parents who don’t know where their kids are and what they’re doing,” says Nick Allen, a psychology professor at the University of Oregon and senior author of the study. “They are probably pushing them to be more independent than they are really ready for and it might be creating some stress for the kids.”
Other parenting styles studied included how consistent parents were in their disciplinary techniques and how much positive encouragement they provided to their children. The study, which controlled for other possible influencing factors, involved 102 children, with an average age of 9, and their parents. It was published in the Journal of Family Psychology.