- Children who suffer from abuse,
mistreatment or lower levels of parental warmth have shown higher
disease rates or inflammation as adults.
- High socioeconomic status has been previously
associated with better childhood nutrition, sleep,
neighborhood quality and opportunities for exercise and development of
- But good parent-child bonds may be necessary to enforce
eating, sleep and activity routines and long term health benefits.
- Therefore without adequate parent-child
relationship quality, socioeconomic advantage during
childhood may not offer much protection at all against major chronic
disease as children become adults.
Being born to financially stable parents or a
rich household is not enough to bestow positive effects to a child's physical
health, years later. The lack of healthy parent-child bond, positive
relationship or the presence of abuse may null the health effect of this privileged background, according to a Baylor University study.
Among the many relationships that humans form
during the course of life, the parent-child bond is the most significant and
enduring one which lasts life-long. A parent-child bond looks at how parents
interact with their children physically, emotionally and socially. A
child's physical and emotional development as well as social and cognitive
behaviors depend on family dynamics.
‘Having constructive dialogues with children rather than forcing obedience encourages them to make healthy lifestyle choices, which offers long-term benefits to their physical health.’
The most important
developmental phase throughout the lifespan is the early childhood. Healthy early child development (ECD), which includes the physical, emotional, social
and language/cognitive domains of development, strongly
influences the physical well-being like obesity/stunting, heart disease, mental
health and social interaction throughout life.
Child maltreatment is the abuse or neglect of
child who is under 18 years of age. Consequences of child maltreatment include
impaired physical and mental health
According to the World Health Organization
statistics, a quarter of all adults reported to being abused
. In 2013, an estimate of 1,520
children died of child abuse and neglect in the United States
according to the National Statistics on Child Abuse.
Very little is known regarding child abuse and
neglect from middle and low income countries like India. The only national
survey conducted to date on child mistreatment in India is
by the Ministry of Women and Child Development in 2007. As per
this survey, 69% of children and adolescents reported physical
abuse, 53% reported sexual abuse, and nearly 49%
reported emotional abuse. In addition, nearly 71% of the
girls reported facing neglect within the family environment.
"Previous research has associated high
socioeconomic status with better childhood nutrition
sleep, neighborhood 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," said researcher Matthew A. Andersson, Ph.D.,
assistant professor of sociology in Baylor's College of Arts & Sciences.
For the study, Andersson analyzed data on the
status of disease or poor health of middle-aged adults drawn
from the National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS).
Dr. Anderson surveyed 2,746
respondents aged 25 to 75 years
in 1995 about their childhood treatment by parents. He
conducted surveys again about 10 years later, with 1,692 of the individuals
taking part. The follow-up analysis, adjusted for personal background in 1995
and for probability of dropping out of the MIDUS study, revealed that childhood
abuse failed to provide any protection from disease or
ill-health, despite being born with socioeconomic advantage.
Children who come from abusive backgrounds, wherein
the parent-child relationships are strained, tend to overlook their food habits
and consume snacks that are high in sugar and fat content as part of comfort
eating. Their sleep pattern is disrupted and activity
routines may also become irregular.
Children are therefore not encouraged to adopt healthy
lifestyle or social and emotional skills useful for successful
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 fail to have constructive
dialogues with their children, which may lessen the warm relationship. They are
likely to threaten or force obedience
which may affect the relationship.
The study on Midlife Health and Parent-Child
Relationships is published in the Journal
of Health and Social Behavior
Children who suffer from abuse,
mistreatment or lower levels of parental warmth
have shown higher disease rates or inflammation as adults. Being free from 28
conditions like cancer, circulatory or respiratory disease,
endocrine diseases, nervous system diseases, infectious and parasitic diseases,
skin or digestive disease and musculoskeletal conditions
is the characteristic of health at midlife.
"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." he added.
Positive parent-child relationship provides
a foundation for child's learning
. The child develops skills
they need to succeed in life though parent's responsive and sensitive care.
These have powerful effects on emotional well-being of the child as well as
their physical health.
Few steps to maintain a healthy parent-child bond
communication is an important parenting skill. Focusing
on improving one's own parenting skill and behavior, by being calm and
keeping reactions in check and by being consistent and honest in the
to respect the child's choices.
It helps deepen the relation.
Listen to their woes with patience so that they can be good listeners too.
time with your child
by sharing meals together, playing games, reading books and working
them feel that they
are a priority in your life
but not in control of your life.
not impose ideas or rules on them,
rather, have fruitful conversations with them. Be firm yet understanding.
- National Statistics on Childhood Abuse - (http://www.nationalchildrensalliance.org/media-room/media-kit/national-statistics-child-abuse)
- Child Maltreatment - (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs150/en/)
- Global Prespectives - Child Abuse and Neglect in India - (https://www.istss.org/education-research/traumatic-stresspoints/2015-august/global-perspectives-child-abuse-and-neglect-in-ind.aspx)