Attachment Parenting Causes Depression
There has never been any evidence (and by evidence I mean actual scientific research, not the shrieks of unhinged supporters) that “attachment parenting” produces any sort of positive results for anybody. Now there is evidence that it has a very negative effect on mothers’ mental health:
This study was conducted to provide quantitative data on the relationship between intensive parenting and maternal mental health outcomes including stress, depression, and life satisfaction. The first hypothesis was that endorsing intensive parenting attitudes would result in greater levels of stress and depression and lower levels of life satisfaction. Additionally, as Essentialism focuses on the primacy of the mother to the exclusion of other potential helpers in the family, we expected this scale to be related to lower levels of perceived family social support. The second hypothesis was that the endorsement of intensive parenting attitudes would predict maternal mental health outcomes above and beyond family social support, an already well-known predictor of well-being.
What is especially sad is that self-evident things like “mothers are human beings”, “having a life outside of child-rearing is necessary for maternal well-being”, “there is nothing that makes a mother a more capable parent than a father” still need to be proven by research.
Let’s forget about mothers, though. We are all used to the idea that a mother who doesn’t sacrifice absolutely everything for the sake of the child is a horrible human being. Don’t the children gain a lot from being physically tied all day and every day to a depressed, miserable, socially isolated woman whose relationships with everybody else are crumbling?
So, if intensive mothering is related to so many negative mental health outcomes, why do women do it? They may think that it makes them better mothers, so they are willing to sacrifice their own mental health to enhance their children’s cognitive and socio-emotional outcomes. However, research is needed on child outcomes because, currently, there is not any data to support this assumption. In fact, young children of over-involved or over-protective parents often experi- ence internalizing disorders. In addition, research clearly indicates that the children of women with poor mental health (e.g., depression) are at higher risk for negative outcomes. Given that this study found that aspects of intensive parenting are associated with negative maternal mental health, then intensive parenting may have the opposite effect on children from what parents intend.
Apparently, it remains to be seen just how much children gain from this parenting strategy.
If you can’t get full access to the article, you can find some quotes from it here.