Dad dot info
Free online course for separated parents
Forum - Ask questions. Get answers.
Free online course for separated parents | Opinion | Latest News | Close relationships between parents and children have long term health benefits

Close relationships between parents and children have long term health benefits

Children who are mistreated or lack warm relationships with their parents also have higher rates of and disease as adults

A strong and loving bond with parents may help protect childrens’ health for decades, according to research.

Childhood abuse or mistreatment offsets the health advantages of growing up in a well-off home. The study on Midlife Health and Parent-Child Relationships has been published in the Journal of Health and Social Behaviour.

According to research from the Baylor University in Texas, more than 2,700 adults between the ages of 25 and 75 were asked how their parents had treated them during childhood.

Around a decade later, nearly 1,700 participants completed follow-up surveys, allowing their health to be looked at during middle-age. 

For the study, health at midlife was defined as being free from 28 possible conditions, including cancer, circulatory or respiratory disease, endocrine diseases, nervous system diseases, infectious and parasitic diseases, skin or digestive disease and musculoskeletal conditions.

The study revealed that childhood abuse continued to undermine any protection from disease linked to childhood socioeconomic advantage.

Matthew Andersson, an assistant professor of sociology in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences, Houston, said “Previous research has associated high socioeconomic status with better childhood nutrition, sleep, neighbourhood quality and opportunities for exercise and development of social skills. But good parent-child bonds may be necessary to enforce eating, sleep and activity routines”.


If parent-child relationships are strained or abusive, children may be more likely to eat sugary or high-fat foods as snacks or even in place of meals.

Sleep and activity routines also may become irregular, keeping children from developing healthy lifestyles and social and emotional skills useful for successful aging, Andersson said.

On the flip side, good parent-child bonds in economically disadvantaged homes, while they promote health, do not seem to lessen the negative impact of low socioeconomic status as the children age.

Previous research has shown parents with less education and fewer financial advantages are more likely to threaten or force obedience rather than have constructive dialogue, and that may lessen warm relationships.

“Much research continues to view socioeconomic status and parent-child bonds as highly related or even interchangeable. But in fact they may quite independently influence a child’s well-being,” Andersson said.

“The key takeaway is that without adequate parent-child relationship quality to match, socioeconomic advantage during childhood may not offer much protection at all against major chronic disease as children become adults and reach middle age.”


Related entries

Should Stella Creasy, MP take her baby into parliament?

Should Stella Creasy, MP take her baby into parliament?

Returning to work after children is tough for everyone, whether you are on shared parental leave or returning after a brief paternity break. It can often make life choices for you, whether you decide to return part-time, go freelance or start paying heavy childcare...

Warning: UK Parents toying with their children’s safety

Warning: UK Parents toying with their children’s safety

Parents have been warned that children in the UK are at risk of death or serious injury from the sale of unsafe toys through various online marketplaces. Health and safety experts from CE Safety say parents should ensure they are not buying cheap, unsafe or fake toys...

Warning: UK Parents toying with their children’s safety

Rule of Six

New Coronavirus rules mean when seeing friends or family you don’t live with you should meet up in groups of six or less. For now, that means it is illegal for my whole family to meet another family inside or outside. In some ways we are lucky, we are only a family of...

Latest entries

Prostate problems: what you need to know

Prostate problems: what you need to know

As it's Men's Mental Health Month (Movember) in November, Dad Info is focussing on awareness of men's health issues. As part of this series we are focussing on prostate problems. What is a prostate? The prostate is a small tube found only in men, surrounding the tube...

Black Friday: don’t waste your cash

Black Friday: don’t waste your cash

It's tempting, isn't it? The promise of bargains, money saved and Christmas all wrapped up. However, once you look beyond the gloss and excitement of Black Friday, are the deals really worth it? Do I need it? Can I afford it? The first thing to consider when...

Pin It on Pinterest