Nagging Moms Raise Successful Daughters, Says Science

by Meredith Bland
Originally Published: 
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Study shows that daughters of nagging moms may be more successful

Good news, mothers of daughters! It looks like we may be able to use our daughters’ need to prove us wrong about everything to our advantage. A study from the University of Essex showed that girls who have mothers who “nag” them (a phrase we hate because a nag is a broken-down old horse and we are just trying to help, Goddammit) were more likely to go to college, get better-paying jobs, and avoid teen pregnancy than those with mothers who were more relaxed.

The study, led by researcher Ericka Rascon-Ramirez, followed the lives of over 15,000 girls between the ages of 13 and 14 from 2004 to 2010. They found that high parental expectations played a role in some of the girls’ major life choices. It was the expectations of the “main parent” that were most influential, and since the main parent is more often than not the mother, we got the nagging credit. Hurray!

As the daughter of a mother who…um…had high expectations and shared those expectations often…I can attest to the fact that this shit works. I am positive that half the reason I didn’t fail out of high school was because I knew that if I did my mother would have said, “See, I told you to study,” and I would have rather died than given her the satisfaction. And guess who graduated from high school? This dummy, right here. Thanks, Mom.

Teens don’t have to pretend to like the advice, either. According to the study, nagging has an effect even when our kids act like they aren’t listening to us, which is always. Said Rascon-Ramirez, “In many cases, we succeeded in doing what we believed was more convenient for us, even when this was against our parents’ will. But no matter how hard we tried to avoid our parents’ recommendations, it is likely that they ended up influencing…choices.” That’s right — we’re in their heads, moms! We live so deeply in their angry little brains that we should buy apartments there and adopt a cat.

Welcome to Headville. I am your Mayor.

And we are in their heads wagging our fingers during even their most personal decisions. Rascon-Ramirez also found that “What our parents expected about our school choices was, very likely, a major determinant of our decisions about conceiving a child or not during our teenage years.” Sure, having a healthy sense of self-esteem and believing that you have options is great, but not getting pregnant just because you “don’t want to hear it” is fine with us, too. Whatever. Just make it not be so.

So what does this mean about cool moms who never get on their daughter’s cases? Are the daughters of all those “Meh Moms” more likely to end up pregnant and living under a bridge? Well, probably not. The study concluded that “parents with high expectations can reduce a teenager’s chance of becoming pregnant by four per cent compared to parents with ‘middling aspirations’.” Well, 4% isn’t 0%, but it’s not worth becoming a bitch about if you’re not already one of us. (Also, “middling aspirations?” Ouch, Science.)

As for me, I will continue nagging my daughter, but with a little more confidence than before. There will be a lot of, “Good morning! Brush your teeth and don’t get pregnant,” and “Good night! Don’t forget to set your alarm and stay away from drugs.” And every time my daughter says, “I know that, Mom” I will take comfort in the fact that my apartment in Headville has gained a few square feet.

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