Emotional bond of children and mothers on the decline, study finds

The University of Hyderabad.

The University of Hyderabad. | Photo Credit: File photo

Is good academic performance the only parameter that defines the emotional attachment of youngsters with their mothers and the concern they need to show as children as the mothers age?

Youngsters, these days believe strongly that getting good academic grades is the only way to make their mothers happy and unfortunately they aren’t even aware of necessity to understand the emotional needs of mothers.

A two-year-long study by a team of psychologists from the University of Hyderabad among the 10-20-year-olds has revealed this disturbing trend and rings an alarm about the possibility of children distancing from their mothers in middle-class Indian society.

“One could make the mother happy or unhappy only with the academic performance and children across the ages could not think beyond this about mother’s happiness,” said Prof. Meena Hariharan, who led the team of researchers - Dr. Meera Padhy, Sumalavanya and Sandra Roshni Monteiro from the Centre for Health Psychology, University of Hyderabad.

“Is Indian society working enough towards sustaining the family bond-particularly between the parents and children?”, was the question that prompted them for the study while noticing the increasing number of nuclear families and parents pushed into old-age homes. The research looked into the aspect that mothers understand the children best but do the children understand the mother equally?

The team prepared a tool with 37 questions related to the mother covering basic facts such as age, birthday, qualification etc to the intricate aspects such as health issues, likes and dislikes, emotions, aspirations, achievements and leisure. This tool is for the mother to fill up with all the information about herself.

A parallel tool was prepared for the children, where they were asked to give the same information about their mother. The sample was middle-class families with children in the age group of 10 to 21 years. A total of 162 mothers and their children participated in the study.

Children’s responses on each of the 37 aspects were compared with that of the mother. Scoring was evolved based on the similarity index. The results were plotted on six dimensions - health, factual information, likes-dislikes, leisure, achievement-aspiration and emotions of the mother.

Children’s knowledge of these basic facts about the mother was found to be 64.62%. One dimension where the understanding went to the maximum of 76.37% was the health issues, said Prof. Hariharan. Less than 50% had any knowledge regarding the mothers’ likes and dislikes and less than 40% about the emotional life of the mothers. Just 28% had any idea about the achievements and aspirations of mothers. A strong belief among the children was that excellent scores will make mothers happy and that was the end of it all.

“The results indicate that children have neither been observing nor interacting with the mothers with a sense of concern care and intimacy leading to understanding.” Who do we hold responsible for this? The children or the parents?. Prof. Hariharan says unfortunately the last two generations in India for some strange reasons were given an impression that academics followed by the career progression is the only index of success in life. This over-emphasis on academics perhaps camouflaged everything including human relations.

The study clearly indicates the children’s lack of understanding of their mothers’ emotionality and how this is negatively reflected in their approach to taking care of mothers.

“It is about time that the young parents tune the child-rearing process to strengthening the human relationship and family bonding, lest we lose out our future generations to materialism and achievement leaving no room for emotional attachments,” caution the team of investigators of the study.

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Printable version | May 22, 2022 8:20:50 am |