Why you’ll always be mom’s favorite
Everyone knows mom has a favorite, but what you may be surprised to learn is that certain factors keep the favorite in good standing well into the future, which has implications for a mother’s long-term care plan, a study finds.
The research, published in the October issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family, reveals that similar personal beliefs and values between an older mother and her adult child are what keep the favorite child holding the crown. This connection, the study concludes, provides a blueprint for mom’s health care in the future.
“These mothers are saying that if I can’t make my own decisions involving my life than who can best make these decisions for me? Who thinks like I do?” said co-author Jill Suitor, in a statement.
The findings are based on data collected from the same 406 mothers ages 65 to 75, seven years apart. Researchers examined similarity of personal values along with other factors including whether a child’s financial independence, adult roles as a spouse or parent themselves, consistent employment and lawful behavior influenced which child remained the favorite.
Surprisingly, researchers found that whether a child was married, divorced or had achieved independence mattered much less than if the mom and the child shared personal values.
While the importance of similar values in explaining why a mother’s favorite child remained the same across the study, it was much harder to isolate what caused a child to fall out of favor.
“One of the few predictors of changes was when children stopped engaging in deviant behaviors, such as substance abuse, during the seven years, and then their mothers were more likely to choose them as the children to whom they were most emotionally close,” said Megan Gilligan, co-author of the study and assistant professor in human development and family studies at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa.
“This is an interesting change because if a child engaged in deviant behaviors seven years ago but then stopped, they were even more likely to be chosen than were siblings who never engaged in deviant behaviors,” said Suitor, a professor of sociology at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind.
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