'Good Enough' Parenting Is Good Enough, Study Finds

As parents, there is a constant worry if we're doing enough to take care of our kids. Even after giving them everything, we still try to do more. But there is new information out there that could change it all. What if we didn't need to do quite as much to ensure that our children are happy? A study from Lehigh University shows that parents only need to "get it right" 50 percent of the time to create a positive impact on their babies. So, if you give your kids a positive response to their need for you half the time, you're good.

Of course, this will be a relief to parents of infants. It's a constant back and forth about doing too much and not enough for them. Thankfully, there is now a middle ground. The study focuses on lower income families, whom usually suffer the hardest with levels of attachment due to their socioeconomic status.

Susan Woodhouse, an associate professor of counseling psychology and researcher at Lehigh University led the study. Studying 83 lower income mother and babies at the ages of 4.5, 7, 9 and 12 months, they used the check ins to observe the attachment between mother and infant. The infants chosen were selected for "high levels of temperamental irritability."

In the study, the mothers and babies were scored based on how the mother responded to the baby's cries, but also when they weren't crying. This was to assess the "secure base provision," the bond infants have with their primary caregiver. A caregiver's ability to understand the needs of an infant and then act upon it, -- their "sensitivity," has been given a lot of significance. But studies show that it actually accounts for a very low percentage of attachment. And even lower still in low income families.

"If we want to give advice to parents about what they can do to give their baby the best start in life, it would be really good to know what helps a baby to be secure," Woodhouse said about the study.

Using this as a focus, the study's looked at an infants ability to tell if a caregiver is a secure base. Meaning, if the caregiver is able to soothe a crying baby or provide them with a "safe base from which to explore." The research showed that babies figured out their moms were a safe base if they could assess their needs 50 percent of the time.

"The findings provide evidence for the validity of a new way of conceptualizing the maternal caregiving quality that actually works for low-income families," Woodhouse said.

So, moms of babies, cheer up. Your baby understands that you're a safe base, even if sometimes you don't correctly guess their needs. They know momma will be there for them when they need her.

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