How parents influence their children's mental health (2023)

04. May 2021

Published in

  • Child/Adolescent Health
  • General Health
  • Health in Oklahoma

How parents influence their children's mental health (1)

If there's one thing all parents can agree on, it's the desire for their child to be successful and live a long, healthy life. However, life brings challenges. Many are uncontrollable, while others are the result of actions or experiences your child faces.

(Video) How parents can help their children's mental health

As part of Children's Mental Health Week, we examine how parenting styles and the mental health of parents affect their children. It is about how a parent can pass mental disorders on to children and which behavioral and emotional patterns can have a lasting influence on child development.

Adverse experiences and their impact on children

Any time a child faces a difficult challenge, whether it's family turmoil or emotional distress, it impacts in many ways. There's even a separate term for these types of negative events - Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). In short, they are potentially traumatic situations that children face, such as domestic violence or divorce. here is a completeOverview of ACEsthe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Situations that are typically considered ACEs include the following.

  • Being a victim of violence, abuse or neglect at home
  • Witnessing acts of violence in your home or community
  • A family member who attempts or commits suicide
  • substance abuse
  • mental health problems
  • After separated/divorced parents
  • A family member who is imprisoned

According to data from the National Survey of Child Health, one in three children under the age of 18 has at least one negative childhood experience, while 14% experience two or more ACEs. About a quarter of the time, divorce or breakups are responsible for ACEs.

A negative experience does not guarantee a future problem, but it does increase a child's future risk of mental health problems, injury, risky behavior, infectious or chronic illness, and lack of income or educational opportunities. Regarding this topic, ACEs can primarily increase the risk ofDepression, Anxiety, Suicide and PTSD🇧🇷 The CDC estimates that if children had been protected from these negative experiences, potentially up to 21 million cases of depression could have been prevented.

In our state, it is imperative to identify and fix these problems before they become bigger problems. There? Oklahoma ranks #2 in divorce rates behind Nevada, according to the CDC, and has the second-highest incarceration rate after Louisiana.

As a parent, you can do your part by providing a stable home, making sure your children understand social norms, and giving them the skills they need to handle difficult emotions when they arise.

Parenting style and your child's mental health

While you never want to be guilty of underestimating and neglecting your children, you should also avoid over-educating them.

(Video) How families can support a child's mental health | Paul Sunseri | TEDxFondduLac

Like this? Repeatedly protecting your children will limit their ability to deal with stress and anxiety situations. The inability to deal with situations appropriately can lead to the development of anxiety disorders in the future. For more information, visit our blog atmental health and brain development in adolescents.

In certain scenarios, the opposite may occur. Your children may be so used to being protective and insensitive to certain situations that they feel more independent when they do the opposite of what their parents preach. For example, parents who are overly protective of their children from drugs and alcohol can cause their children to be overly curious and eventually lead to substance abuse.

Meanwhile, parents with a judgmental and dismissive tone can lower children's self-esteem and lead to anxiety or depression. The same goes for judging your children based on their body image or self-esteem. Children already have enough emotions to deal with, and being too rigid can hamper their development.

In general, parents fall into four types of parenting styles. Here is a summary of each.

  • Authoritarian.There are clear rules and penalties if those rules are not followed, but there is little heat. In this structured environment, it's more my way or the highway attitude. Without the necessary support, children may never feel good enough and may develop depression when raised by overbearing parents.
  • Authoritarian.Parents develop clear standards and respond democratically to the needs of their children. Instead of being the boss, they are open to communication and listen to their children. Growing up in an authoritarian family provides a child with a solid foundation, but it is also likely to maintain a strong bond with their parents well into adulthood.
  • Allowed.Expectations are low, and permissive parents are generally more forgiving and have fewer rules to follow. Even when rules are broken, permissive parents tend to avoid conflict. Without much foundation, children raised this way can be more impulsive and risk-taking. The risks of anxiety and depression also play a role.
  • Not involved.The least restrictive of the four uninvolved parents are just that—disinterested and investing little time in their children. Uninvolved parents often have little communication or engagement with their children. Rules don't matter to them and don't enforce bad behavior. Children in such families are at higher risk of having difficulties in future relationships due to withdrawal and fear of abandonment. Relationships in general can create anxiety due to the nature of their upbringing.

There is no right or wrong path for parents as each situation presents different challenges. Regardless of how you parent, this is not a blame game. Ultimately, parenting style is not the only indicator of how a child is behaving.

take itpsychological study, for example. The researchers found that a family history of mental health and other negative experiences led to higher levels of anxiety and depression. They also found that people who struggled with coping, rumination, and blaming—whether against themselves or their parents—were more likely to struggle with mental health issues. In other words, children who did not blame themselves or others for negative experiences performed better.

Influence of parental mental health on child development

Like many diseases and illnesses, mental health disorders tend to run in families and can be passed from parent to child. This risk is further increased when both parents have a mental disorder.

(Video) How Does the Mental Health of a Parent Affect Their Children? Part 19

ONEestudo do American Journal of Psychiatryfollowed children of depressed parents over a 20-year period to assess how they fared in adulthood. They found that children were three times more at risk for mental health problems and substance abuse than children whose parents were not depressed.

It's important to realize that just because a parent has a mental illness doesn't necessarily have an impact on their children. Rather, it is about how the mental health of parents affects their behavior. Many people with anxiety, depression, or other disorders receive treatment and live long, healthy, and successful lives.

Dealing with depression as a parent can unintentionally affect how you interact with your child. For example, you may not be as expressive or emotionally connected, which can affect parent-child bonding.

It can also affect the physical aspects of your child's life. If you have trouble finding enough energy to leave the house or are habitually late for school or appointments, this can affect staying at school. In turn, problems at school can lead to negative feelings that are often associated with mental health disorders.

These situations are often distressing for parents and children alike and can degrade a relationship, leading to abandonment or trust issues.

Be honest with your children andTalk to them about mental health🇧🇷 Explain what it is and how there are treatments. Use your words carefully and avoid labels. The word "sad" is softer on the ears than "depressed," just as "fear" or "anxiety" is more digestible for a child than "anxiety."

You must also be open and honest about how you communicate verbally and non-verbally. Children are smarter than we think and can understand clues. Don't feel selfish if you have to prioritize seeking help over caring for your family. Without your full strength, your family will struggle to survive even if you are physically present. Learn more herehow to prepare for your first psychiatric visit.

(Video) How parents' mental health impacts children

If you or your loved ones need help with mental illness, please contactINTEGRIS Mental Healthto make an appointment or to access free mental health screening.

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How parents influence their child's mental health? ›

For example, parents who overprotect their children from drugs and alcohol could lead to children being overly curious and eventually lead to substance abuse. Meanwhile, parenting with a critical, dismissive tone can dampen children's self-esteem and lead to anxiety or depression.

How do parents influence their child? ›

What you do shows your child how you want them to behave. For example, how you cope with feelings like frustration and distress influences how your child regulates their emotions. What you eat, how much you exercise, and how you look after yourself all influence your child. What you say is also important.

Are parents the biggest influence on children? ›

Common knowledge, parents influence their children's development and personality. Whether we want to admit it or not, parents are a child's most influential role model. As parents, we spend more time with our children than any other adult. We model to our children our values, as well as our likes/dislikes.

Do parents influence child's personality? ›

There is clear evidence that parents can and do influence children. There is equally clear evidence that children's genetic makeup affects their own behavioral characteristics, and also influences the way they are treated by their parents.

When can parents most influence their child's development? ›

Formal cultural consensus analysis of responses met criteria for strong agreement that the period for greatest impact of parenting on a child's development occurs at adolescence, at a median age of 12 years.

What influences children the most? ›

Parents are the #1 influence in their children's lives. Parents don't always believe this – in a Parents Empowered survey, parents placed themselves last in the line-up of influences on their children – after friends, teachers and media.

What is the most important influence on a child? ›

Family is almost certainly the most important factor in child development. In early childhood especially, parents are the ones who spend the most time with their children and we (sometimes unwittingly) influence the way they act and think and behave.

Why parents are the most influential factors in our lives? ›

Parents are among the most important people in the lives of young children. Parents include mothers and fathers, as well as other caregivers who act as parents. From birth, children rely on parents to provide them with the care they need to be happy and healthy, and to grow and develop well.

What is the effect of parenting styles on children's emotional and behavioral? ›

The Impact of Parenting Styles

Mental health: Parenting styles can also influence children's mental well-being. Kids raised by authoritarian, permissive, or uninvolved parents tend to experience more anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems.

How does your mother influence you? ›

Mothers have often shaped our world from the cradle, by rocking, nurturing and instructing children to grow up to make life changing and history- making accomplishments. For every person, there is a mother behind who fostered her child's sensibilities to their full potential.

What influences a child's behavior? ›

cultural expectations, experiences and child rearing practices. exposure to drugs, alcohol. the child's emotional development and temperament. presence of a disability that may impact on the child's social and emotional wellbeing.

What are the 3 most important influences on a child's development? ›

Learn more about the three main factors that affect your child's development:
  • brain development.
  • child's temperament.
  • care they receive from you and others.

What parenting style is the best for child development? ›

Why experts agree authoritative parenting is the most effective style. Studies have found that authoritative parents are more likely to raise confident kids who achieve academic success, have better social skills and are more capable at problem-solving.

How can my parents influence me? ›

My parents teach me everyday by example. I value the ability to listen because my dad's ability to do so makes me more eager to talk to him. I strive to speak up for myself because I see my mom never afraid to do so. I see my parents sacrifice so much of themselves just as other parents do for their children.

What is an example of family influence? ›

Over time, transactions occur between child and parents such that each affects the other. For instance, a fussy baby can be calmed by an experienced parent and soothed to sleep and in turn the parent can develop feelings of confidence.

How much does parenting affect children's Behaviour? ›

Academics: Parenting styles can play a part in academic achievement and motivation. Mental health: Parenting styles can also influence children's mental well-being. Kids raised by authoritarian, permissive, or uninvolved parents tend to experience more anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems.

Which parent has the most influence on a child? ›

Which parent has more influence? According to a new study funded by the Wellcome Trust and published in the European Journal of Public Health, our moms impact the way we raise our own kids much more than our dads do. And that's not all; their parenting style in particular has a lot to do with the way we turn out, too.

Why are parents the most influential factors in our lives? ›

Parents are among the most important people in the lives of young children. Parents include mothers and fathers, as well as other caregivers who act as parents. From birth, children rely on parents to provide them with the care they need to be happy and healthy, and to grow and develop well.

Why your mother is the most influential? ›

My mother is the most influential person in my life for three reasons: she inspires me, she has taught me many important life lessons, and she has always encouraged me. We do not always see eye to eye, yet as I have grown older, she has become my closest friend.

What is a mother's responsibility to her child? ›

To care as a mother is to cook good food, create a clean home, provide clean clothing, read to your children, teach them, include them in family life, encourage, teach and play. It is fulfilling for a mother to care for a child.

How does family influence mental and emotional health? ›

When family relationships are stable and supportive, a person suffering from mental health issues or disorders may be more responsive to treatment. Companionship, emotional support and often even economic support can have a positive impact on someone coping with a mental health problem.

How does family influence your behavior? ›

Family influences on the development of emotion can be seen in parenting practices, emotional family climate, and different emotional learning experiences. Particularly, supportive parenting and parental involvement play an important role in the development of emotional competence in adolescents.

How does family influence your attitude and behavior? ›

Physical health - Many studies have shown that positive relationships with relatives lead to more positive habits later in life, such as taking better care of yourself and making healthy food choices. In contrast, negative relationships that cause stress can lead to unhealthy eating habits and poor physical self-care.


1. Supporting children of parents with Mental Illness
(Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare)
2. Time to talk - a parent's perspective on children's mental illness: Liza Long at TEDxSanAntonio 2013
(TEDx Talks)
3. Mental Illness in Children: The Impact on Families
(Illinois Public Media)
4. Children's Mental Health Disorders - A Journey for Parents and Children
(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC))
5. How Your Authoritarian Parents Affect Your Mental Health
(Asha Jacob Coaching)
6. How COVID's impact on parents' mental health trickles down to kids | USA TODAY


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