Being mother's favorite child has lots of perks; however, a new study found that it entails a payback consequence later in life. Researchers from Purdue University, Iowa State University and Cornell University discovered that the favored child in a family is most likely to suffer from depression.
Parents exhibiting different levels of care and treatment to their children have been recognized to cause negative effects in early-life stages, but information about the impacts of this pattern to middle life are scarce.
In a new study, researchers investigated whether the psychological well-being of people was influenced by perceptions that their mothers treated their siblings differently or by thoughts that they were the favorite or east favorite child. The researchers also looked into racial differences.
The study involved 725 participants with an average age of 49, within 309 families whose mothers were aged between 65 and 75 years old at the start of the experiment. The project was performed in two stages, with a gap of seven years in between. The researchers explored the study subjects and their relationships with their mothers, particularly looking at emotional closeness, pride, disappointment and conflict, which are the four aspects of being favored or unfavored.
The findings of the study showed that depressive manifestations were more increased in adult children who perceived themselves to have the most maternal emotional closeness or conflict.
Megan Gilligan, study co-author from Iowa University said that this cost is due to the higher tension among siblings experienced by people who are preferred for emotional closeness or the higher sense of responsibility of the emotional care of their aging mothers.
The study also delved into the relationship between different maternal treatments and psychological well-being in Black and White families. The researchers found that depression was most likely to occur in blacks whose mothers were disappointed in them.
"We hope that future research will pursue a comparison of the consequences of a variety of approaches to capture within-family differences on psychological well-being in adulthood," the researchers wrote.
The study was published in The Journals of Gerontology on Oct. 6.
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