(Relaxnews) - According to a new study, women who believe in "intensive parenting" -- meaning that women are better parents than men, that mothering should be child-centered, and that children should be considered sacred -- are more likely to experience stress and depression than their more laid-back counterparts.
The findings are published online this week in Springer's Journal of Child and Family Studies.
Kathryn Rizzo and her colleagues from the University of Mary Washington in Virginia, US, examined attitudes and mental states of some 181 mothers of children under five years old.
Using an online questionnaire, the authors measured to what extent mothers endorsed what they dubbed intensive parenting beliefs, such as that parents' happiness is derived primarily from their children, that parents should always provide their children with stimulating activities, and that a parent should always sacrifice their needs for the needs of the child.
"The results of this study suggest that aspects of intensive mothering beliefs are detrimental to women's mental health," wrote the authors. "It may not be parenting per se, but specific and particularly intensive ways of parenting, that relate to negative mental health outcomes."
For example, those mothers who believed that women are the essential parent were found to be less satisfied with their lives; those who believed that parenting is more challenging than work were more stressed and depressed.
According to a separate study from the University of Rochester in New York, mothers experiencing chronic stress in their lives were found to more likely to be hostile and insensitive parents. Copyright (AFP RELAXNEWS), 2012.