Men who had an overprotective relationship with their father, with loss of autonomy during childhood and adolescence, were 12% more likely to die before age 80 than those without a controlling father. These were the results of a survey of nearly a thousand British elderly on the effect of longevity on children of overprotective parents.
Among women, the risk was even greater: those who reported having an authoritarian and overprotective father had a 22% increased risk of dying before the age of 80. Read on and learn more.
Children of Overprotective Parents: Study Details
The data have been published in Scientific Reports by researchers from the Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar) and University College London (United Kingdom). The participants included in this analysis are stated to have been born in the 1950s and 1960s.
“The results are a picture of the individuals that will be older today. Therefore, it does not mean that we will have the same results with today’s generation,” says Tiago Silva-Alexander, professor at the Department of Gerontology at UFSCar and coordinator of Investigation. With the support of FAPESP, the scientists analyzed 941 deaths (445 women and 496 men) among the Elsa participants.
Before dying, the volunteers answered a questionnaire. In this way, they provided information on the family structure, living conditions, occupation of the head of household, the presence of communicable diseases, and the relationship with parents (care and protection) in childhood and adolescence. By linking the information obtained in the questionnaires with the death data, the Brazilian researchers were able to determine the effect of parental relationship on longevity.
“The most interesting thing about our work is that we have managed to show in numbers what has been discussed for several years about raising children. The caring and affectionate relationships with the father and the mother during childhood and adolescence have ramifications for throughout life. Even, as we show, “they have an effect on longevity. Through the results of our study, we found that childhood conditions require very good care. In addition, they must be backed by public policies so that old age is good,” defends Alejandro.
Studies in the field of psychology and parenting indicate that authoritarian (or too rigid) and negligent (or permissive) relationships can be detrimental to the formation of an individual.
“It’s about finding a middle ground. Don’t be so nosy that it causes a child or teen to lose independence, and don’t be neglectful and emotionally distant from children. It is this issue of attention that we are dealing with”. explains Aline Fernanda de Souza-Canelada, who was involved in the research during her master’s degree. With him in this study he is precisely not careless, enthusiastic attention and presence, but not overprotective.
Factors that Shorten Life Expectancy
This is the first study to investigate the ability of absent or poor parenting to reduce longevity. Children and adolescents need the help of parents, but not in an intrusive way. Studies in psychology show that this type of parental relationship, in addition to robbing children of their autonomy, ends up being weak, because the son is afraid of the father. This leads to different conditions, from unhealthy habits —there are studies that show an increased risk of addiction to alcohol and drugs— to psychological problems, such as increased stress, which is closely related to decreased longevity,” says Kanelada. .
Similarly, a lower risk for women who received a higher level of care from their mothers may be associated with less stress in childhood. And so this is repeated throughout life. “We know from studies in the field of psychology that all these phenomena related to the parental relationship influence behavior. There is a theory that relates this to stress. People who have been neglected can experience a life-long level of stress due to these resonant past circumstances. This increases the likelihood of disease,” says Alexander.
Therefore, the investigators’ analyzes of early mortality are independent of disease conditions and age. “This is because it would not be correct to attribute the increased risk of premature death to a previous event without considering the presence of diseases and problems that people experience in old age, so we control for these variables, and regardless of the conditions of health of the person at the time of old age, the problems of previous childhood have been associated with early mortality”, explains the researcher.
Children of Overprotective Parents: The Baby Boomers
Although the research describes what happened to the generation born shortly after World War II, it is not possible to ensure that the reality of modern generations will be very different in the evaluation of scholars. “We know that parents today are overprotective of their children in a different way, and this can also have an effect. It’s a different kind of relationship, but it also has weaknesses,” says Alexander.
This is the case score on the effect of living with only one parent. In the study, men who spent their childhood or adolescence living with a single parent had a 179% increased risk of dying before age 80. In this case, there are cultural and social issues that are likely to have a greater impact than the current one. Therefore, the issue of separated parents has been handled differently in the past, and for a male child, it can be more difficult. However, we have no way of knowing how this will happen today. However, with the society we have today, but speaking of people born in the 50s and 60s, this was much heavier for men”, says the UFSCar professor.
The difference between the sexes
Another aspect of the children of overprotective parents is the difference between the sexes. Overprotective fathers had a greater effect on daughters’ longevity.
Similarly, the assisting mothers only had a positive effect on their daughters’ longevity. Finally, Kanelada explains that women seem to be more prone to internalize negative emotions and, therefore, to experience psychological disorders more frequently. On the other hand, men seem to be more prone to alcoholism and drug abuse. “In any case, these two factors are closely related to longevity,” says the researcher.