A mother’s warmth and acceptance toward her teenagers may help prevent those children from being in an abusive relationship later in life, even if her own marriage is contentious, according to a new University at Buffalo study.
Previous research shows that adolescents who are exposed to marital conflict at a young age are at an increased risk to experience abuse in their romantic relations. However, the new study discovered that the child’s relationship with their mother serves as a buffer by potentially promoting the teen’s feelings of self-worth, says Jennifer Livingston, PhD, lead investigator and associate professor in the UB School of Nursing.
“Children form internal working models about themselves and others based on the quality of their relationship with their parents,” said Livingston. “If the primary caretaker is abusive or inconsistent, children learn to view themselves as unlovable and others as hostile and untrustworthy. But positive parenting behaviors characterized by acceptance and warmth help children form positive internal working models of themselves as lovable and worthy of respect.”