“Time to get up,” I shouted up the stairs to my teenage daughter. “Remember you said you had that assignment to finish today.” There was a muffled grumbling from her bedroom.
An hour later I tried again. “Are you nearly ready?” (Clearly not. There’d been no suggestion of movement since my first effort to rouse her.) “Come on; you need to get out of bed.”
I won’t list them separately, but it took several more attempts on my part before she finally gave in. As she shuffled sulkily into the kitchen, she glared at me. “Why do you have to nag me all the time?” she asked.
No woman likes being accused of nagging. It conjures up a certain image – a bitter old harpy with nothing better to do than harangue others. Yet according to the University of Essex in the UK, it seems teenage girls with pushy mothers are more likely to be successful than those whose mums don’t nag them.
The study took place over a six-year period, from 2004 – 2010. It followed 15,500 girls in England aged 13 and 14 at the time it began. The research concluded that those with ‘pushier’ mothers were:
- More likely to go to college
- Likely to earn higher salaries
- Less likely to be unemployed
- More likely to attract partners who were successful
- Less likely to become pregnant outside of marriage or a committed relationship
The findings related to this last point showed that high parental expectations reduced the chance of a teenager becoming pregnant by 4%, compared to those whose parents had ‘middling’ aspirations. It’s an important statistic. Teenage mothers are more likely to leave school early and earn less; their relationships are also less likely to be successful. Their children have an increased risk of chronic health issues such as obesity. They are also less likely to do well at school.
The study’s author, Ericka Rascon-Ramirez, said teenage girls who weren’t especially academic stood to benefit most from having a more assertive mother.
Having high expectations of our daughters plays a role in some of the major life choices they make.
Rascon-Ramirez said: “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’s likely they ended up influencing, in a subtler manner, choices we had considered extremely personal.
“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.”
So, it seems, having high expectations of our daughters plays a role in some of the major life choices they make. And while fathers might also nag, it seems it might not be as effective.
“The measure of expectations in this study reflects a combination of aspirations and beliefs about the likelihood of attending higher education reported by the main parent, who in the majority of cases is the mother,” reports Rascon-Ramirez.
So next time you feel you’re nagging your daughter to do well at school rather than risking her chances of going to university, don’t feel too bad. Chances are she’d rather put in the effort (even if secretly) to do well, rather than admit you might be right.