The Meeting Place

Fathers provide ‘cautionary health tales’ for offspring

Some adults see their mothers and fathers as still influencing their own health – but in very different ways, according to a new study.

In interviews with 45 married couples, researchers found that mothers influenced their adult children’s health in the same way they had through life – by being there when they’re needed to help their child get through a health crisis.

But when it comes to dads – well, they’re most helpful by showing their adult children what not to do to stay healthy.

“Adults in our study sometimes talked about how they were affected by their fathers having really poor health behaviours, like smoking or heavy drinking,” said Alexandra Kissling, lead author of the study and a doctoral student in sociology at The Ohio State University.

“They really wanted to make sure they didn’t make the same mistakes.”

The researchers did in-depth interviews with 90 adults (comprising 45 married couples) who were between 40 and 60 years old.

The researchers asked participants not only how their own parents affected their health, but also about the influence of their in-laws.

Generally, adult children felt that mothers were a positive influence on their health, either by helping them when they were sick or by being counted on to be available if needed.

These results contribute to research on “intensive mothering,” which is the idea that mothers are responsible for their children’s welfare and consistently support them, Ms Kissling said.

“That level of caring never stops, and mothers are there to help their child even as adults,” she said.

Mothers-in-law were also deemed helpful, but their influence comes through the person’s spouse.

“In our sample, it was unlikely that a person would call up their mother-in-law and ask for her to take care of them at home after surgery, for example,” she said.

As for fathers and fathers-in-law, the study found that a common response from participants was that dads were “cautionary tales” when it came to health.

For these participants, fathers were seen as negative examples – a finding that aligns with research that suggests men take more health risks and have worse health behaviours compared with women.

“People discussed fathers’ and fathers-in-laws’ addiction to alcohol and drugs as negative health examples, which encouraged them to make healthier life choices during their adulthood,” she said.

Adults in the study who had to contend with their parents’ own health issues said that this negatively affected their health – particularly if they lived with their parents.

Do you think men exhibit worse health behaviours than women? What impact do you think your parents had on your health? What impact do you think you have on your children’s health?

7 comments

 

 

"Do you think men exhibit worse health behaviours than women?"

That may have ben true many years ago..however..these days whilst men are improving in their health behaviours..it appears some women are not. Too many women are drinking too much and what surprises me, is the number of young women who still smoke.

"What impact do you think your parents had on your health?"

My parents believed in teaching by example. The values and health education they taught us, still influence my life.

"What impact do you think you have on your children’s health?" 

I would like to think I have made some impact. Of course when they were young, I had total control. However, they adopted other habits when they started uni etc. and it was a bit of a struggle. Now that they are adult, I am very happy to see them returning to Mom's boring old ways! Couldn't have done it without their dad being on board.

 

When I think ofy own father's behavior I am aware that he lived through the Depression of the 1930s and was suffering fom PTSD as a result of his experiences during WW2. It was not until I served in Vietnam that I truly understood him, and I was only in a war zone for 12 months at a time, my father was away for four years, apart from a short recovery at home from his wounds, and served in both the Middle Easy and then PNG. No doubt many of the '40 to 60 years old' surveyed would have had fathers that suffered similar experiences  to my father.  No matter what, both my motherr and father were a good influence on my life.

I feel the opposite.  My Father was a very positive influence in my life both emotionally and physically.  On the other hand I my mother was not.  My Father taught by example, he was patient, kind, caring and always looked after his health.

I feel the opposite.  My Father was a very positive influence in my life both emotionally and physically.  On the other hand I my mother was not.  My Father taught by example, he was patient, kind, caring and always looked after his health.

Interesting, I think I got influences from both my parents for good and bad. On one hand my dad grew organic veggies and would not let us have processed food in the house, so we always had homemade food, but my dad was a drinker for a time, he liked his beer after work and then vino after dinner, was really the weekends when he drank too much, he was a smoker for a small part of my childhood too. Where as my mother was all about letting us have "treats" mostly out of home but never drank or smoked, but was stressed out a lot so we suffered from her stress. I believe it is different for every family. I took the good from both and now live very healthy, not smoking or drinking nowadays though I was for a small part of my life as it was the norm.

was  very  hard 4  my parents both  migrants  1921   had 2 get own  lodgings on rrivl  & work. seemed 2enjoy  experience  said  no wharf in melb.  on arrival   went 2  WA 2 LOOK 4 WORK  . MOTHER LIVED IN TENT WITH 2 CHILDREN  DIDN'T SEEM  2 MIND ebjoyed   IT HAD 8 KIDS   FINALLY.  aLWAYS  REMEMBER THEY  DID IT  VERY  HRD . NO  HELP MOTHER  DID ALL COOKING  NO  TAKE  AWAY  WAS  STRICT UP  BRINGING BUT WE  DIDN'T QUERY  IT   KNEW WHY . IT  STUUCK  WITH  ME   2  THIS  DAY  THE  COPPER & SCRUBBING  BOARD .  IRON ON WOOD  STOVE  WORE  BROTHERS'  FOOTIE  BOOTS 2  SCHOOL 3   1/2 mile wlk  NO-ONE  TEASED US  but loved summer  wore  runners  FATHER  STRICT 2  IN  ANOTHER  WAY,  mothers  morals  very  strict  & we  instinctively  KNEW  WHT   WE SHOULD  / SHOULDN'T  DO  / STND UPWHEN  DULTS  CAME INTO  ROOM  THIS DIDN'T  LAST .  BUT WE  DEFINITELY  KNEW OUR  PLACE . SPEK WHEN  SPOKEN  2  WAS   RULE  OFTEN . NO FRIDGE  NO ICE  CHEST  FOOD DIDN'T  LAST  LONG  ANYWAY NO  VAC.       BUT HOUSE KEPT  SPOTLESS. FATHER  ALWAYS  SAID  WE WERE  LUCKY  WE WERE IN  THE  BEST COUNTRY IN  THE  WORLD  &   HE GREW    OUR OWN  VEGIES  &  FRUIT  TREES . HVING  BOUGHT  HIS OWN  DAIRY  FRM.  THEIR  HARD  WORK  ETHIC  INFLUENCED  ME & THEIR  PERSEVERNCE ALTHOUGH LOSING   DAUGHTER @ 19  THEY  WENT THROUGH  3  REAL  DEPRESSIONS  & 2  W.WARS  FATHER WAS IN WW1 & HAD PTSD . EXCUSE MISTAKES  SOME OF  MY LETTTERS ONLY  WORK SOMETIMES .

 

When you have something as important to say as you have "mistakes" are of no importance.

Excellent post, my parents died when I was a young lad. I grew up with a most loving aunt and uncle and their kids. I was taught all the same values as you and each day I thank them. Because of their work ethic passed on to us, we all did well and I try to pass the same on to our children and grandchildren.

 

MOTHER  ALSO FOUND TIME  2  MAKE SAUCES  RELISHES  & JAMS  MANY WHICH SHE  GAVE AWAY  WLKED  2 THE SCHOOL  WITH US @ XMAS  BREAK-UP.  I THINK  THEY  LEFT US 2  FIND OUR  OWN  WAY   WHICH WAS FINE  ALTHOUGH HARD  SOMETIMES .  I  SOMETIMES  THINK THEY  DIDN'T  KNOW  WHT 2 DO  WITH  SUCH  A GAGGLE OF  KIDS ,     MY  1ST LETTER  OF THE  ALPHABET  ONLY WORKS SOMETIMES , FATHER  BECAME  ILL  SOON  &  DIED 2   EARLY . MOTHER LIVED  2 ALMOST    92.

 

SKRAPI - Your family should be admired for their perseverance.  My father came to Australia in 1946 after reading in the newspapers that Australia needed experienced trademan after the 2nd World War. Mum , my sister and I followed in 1947. Mum had to sell all her wedding presents to afford the fares on the ship. They too did it hard, four people to one bedroom and no cooking facilities, another baby came along in 1948. They never complained and no handouts by the government. My father always said we were in the lucky country. After moving from place to place and saving all his hard earned wages they were able to put a small deposit on a home . I am so grateful they taught us to expect nothing and work hard to achieve things. These work ethics we passed on to our boys and they are successful in their chosen fields.

 

 

 

 

 

7 comments