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Survey: Moms rely on their moms for advice

A new study finds that almost half of all parents turn to their mother or mother-in-law for information about child development and parenting.

Posted Updated
Sarah Lindenfeld Hall

A new national survey of parents found that almost half turn to their mother or mother-in-law for information about child development and parenting.

The survey found that parents rely mostly on their own parents, their upbringing and their faith when it comes to raising their own children. The Zero to Three survey included more than 1,600 parents with children from birth to age three.

Zero to Three is a national nonprofit that promotes the health and wellness of kids ages 0 to 3. The survey was funded by the MetLife Foundation and conducted for a few days in June 2009

Among the findings:

  • Nearly half of parents (47 percent) turn to their mother or mother-in-law when seeking information about parenting.
  • More than half of parents (53 percent) say the way their parents raised them has a major influence on their approach to parenting; another 30 percent says it has a moderate influence. 
  • Two-thirds of parents say their faith or religious background has a major (41percent) or moderate (34 percent) influence on their approach to child rearing. 

The survey also explored parents understanding about how deeply a child's social and emotional development is affected by early experiences. 

The survey found that:

  • Parents don't understand that even young babies can experience deep feelings. Although research shows that babies as young as 6 months can experience a range of feelings, including sadness and fear, 69 percent of parents surveyed think this developmental milestone occurs later in a young child's life.
  • Parents underestimate the impact their moods have on their young children. Only 34 percent of parents understand that, by the time they reach 6 months, young children can in fact begin to sense and be affected by their parents' moods. 
  • A majority of parents think children's self-esteem doesn't develop until after age 2, although scientific research shows that most children are capable of feeling good or bad about themselves between ages 1 and 2.
  • Parents believe that children are capable of controlling their emotions much earlier than is realistic. Forty-three percent of parents believe that children can control their emotions by age 3, and 20 percent expect this by age 2. However, it is between the ages of 3 and 5 that most children develop the capacity to control their emotions; for instance, asking for help when frustrated rather than having a tantrum. Although slightly more than 1 in 3 parents hold this expectation, a significant proportion of parents expect a young child to be capable of exerting this kind of self- control at a much younger age.

And other interesting findings ...

  • While 80 percent of mothers said talking to a newborn has a strong or major influence on early learning, only 65% of fathers believed this to be so.
  • Fathers were also less likely to be satisfied with their work/family balance, and twice as many fathers as mothers identified sleep and bedtime issues as top behavioral challenges
  • One out of every four parents of a young child has been forced to make a change in their child care arrangements because of the the economic downturn.
For more about the survey, go to click here.

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