Who Mothers Mommy? Factors That Contribute to Mothers’ Well-Being

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Abstract

Developmental science is replete with studies on the impact of mothers on their children, but little is known about what might best help caregivers to function well themselves. In an initial effort to address this gap, we conducted an Internet-based study of over 2,000 mostly well-educated mothers, seeking to illuminate salient risk and protective processes associated with their personal well-being. When women’s feelings in the parenting role were considered along with dimensions of personal support as predictors, the latter set explained at least as much variance—and often much more—across dimensions of mothers’ personal well-being. Within the latter set of personal support predictors, findings showed that 4 had particularly robust links with mothers’ personal adjustment: their feeling unconditionally loved, feeling comforted when in distress, authenticity in relationships, and satisfaction with friendships. Partner satisfaction had some associations with personal adjustment outcomes, but being married in itself had negligible effects. Findings are discussed in terms of implications for future research, and for interventions aimed at fostering resilience among mothers facing high level of stress in their role as parents.

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