Plenty of interview-based studies have found that many parents hold these attitudes, Liss told LiveScience, but there is a lack of hard data on the mental health effects. She and her colleagues recruited 181 moms of kids under age 5 to complete a series of online questionnaires about their parenting attitudes, family support, life satisfaction and mental health.
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Moms who take an "intensive" approach, marked by the belief that mothers are the most important people in baby's life and that parents should always put their child's needs first, are less likely to be satisfied with their lives and more likely to be stressed than more laid-back moms.
"There's something very appealing about these intensive parenting ideologies," said study researcher Miriam Liss, a psychologist at the University of Mary Washington in Virginia. "[These attitudes] seem like they are how we should be feeling toward our children. But they may be more problematic than we think."
Intensive parenting is a style with three main philosophies: That mothers are the best possible people to care for their children, that mothering should center around the child's needs, and that children should be considered delightful and wholly fulfilling for parents.
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