How Moms and Dads Influence Their Adult Children’s Health

A new study at OSU found that some adults see their fathers and mothers pretty differently when it comes to how their parents influenced their health.

These researchers found by interviewing 45 married couples that mothers are likely to influence their adult children’s health in a similar way throughout their entire lives; by being involved and available when their children are in a crisis of health.

Dad had a pretty different role when it came to influencing their adult children’s health—they were most helpful by demonstrating to their adult children what not to do when it came to staying healthy.

Because there are few studies of this kind, the researchers decided that in-depth interviews where the best way to determine what topics were of highest concern to adult children when it came to health and their parents influence. They even asked the couples about the influence their in-laws might have on their health.

The majority of participants did not claim or perceive that their parents or in-laws had much impact on their health (either in a positive or negative manner—these folks claimed that they set pretty strict boundaries with in-laws and even their own parents. They mostly claimed that their marital relationship was prioritized when it came to health influence.

However, dependent on the issue, up to a quarter to a bit more than one third of the participants did feel parents or even their in-laws had an impact. The study also suggested that the gender of the participant had no important effects on the way participants perceived the influence of fathers and mothers on their health.

Again, the research suggests that when there was influence mothers had a positive influence by helping their ill adult children and fathers tended to serve as role models of what not to do to maintain good health.

New OSU Study in Family Oriented Substance Abuse Treatment

OSU researchers participated in a-first-of-its-kind study to examine the effectiveness of family therapy for mothers who are substance users. Mothers in therapy for drug and alcohol use recover faster if their children take part in their treatment sessions.

Researchers found that women who were in family therapy – which included their 8- to 16-year-old children – showed a quicker decline in alcohol, marijuana and cocaine use over 18 months compared to mothers who were in individual therapy.

Family therapy is likely more helpful to moms battling most substance use issues than individual therapy because it deals with the family stresses that contribute to drug and alcohol use.

The researchers hoped that assessing differences in the mother-child interaction before and after treatment would help them determine whether changes in these family dynamics were the key to the success of family therapy, but the results did not confirm that link. Researchers still believe the link is there, but that there weren’t enough subjects in the study to prove it.

Preliminary data from upcoming studies by the researchers suggests that family therapy is not only good for the mothers – it helps their children’s mental health, as well.