Tuesday, September 10, 2019

NZ mothers and relationship transitions

A new MSD/Victoria University study, The influences of social connectedness on behaviour in young children: A longitudinal investigation using GUiNZ data December 2018, was released last month. A large part of the investigation was about relationship transitions, their effect on children and interconnection with vulnerability.

Broadly extracting from the paper,

Children raised in families that had experienced relationship transition(s) also reported higher externalising (aggression, fighting) and internalising behaviour (worry, depression) and lower pro-social (kindness, empathy) behaviour.
Children in the first year of life typically develop strong emotional bonds to their parents and caretakers, and disturbances of these attachments may not only cause emotional difficulties, significant stress may also actually harm the all-important foundation of the infant’s brain.
…numerous family transitions, especially early in life, put children at cognitive, emotional, and neurological risk for later adverse outcomes. Family transitions are usually accompanied by financial hardship, a reduction in parenting ability, changes of schools and consequent instability of peer relationships, and changes in neighbourhoods that can all adversely affect both child and adult relationships. However, strong emotional bonds within the family, termed family connectedness, and strong relationships with neighbours, termed community connectedness, may buffer these stressful events and states...
… higher family connectedness predicted significantly reduced externalising behaviour for those children whose mothers were consistently in a stable relationship but did not have an effect for those children whose mothers experienced relationship transitions or were consistently unpartnered 
That's just a small sample of findings.

Now, the analysed Growing Up in New Zealand data showed, "1095 (17.3%) of mothers were categorised as having experienced 1-4 relationship transitions from pregnancy to the 4.5-year interview."

I've done some further analysis to allow for the drop-out rate.

There were originally 6,938 conceptions. By age 4.5 there were only 6,392 children. That’s 7.9% attrition. If, conservatively, half of the lost mothers had experienced a relationship transition then 17.3% would rise to 21.25%

It's not inconceivable that most of the mothers who dropped out of the study experienced instability of relationships.

It would be wholly reasonable to suggest that between one in four and one in five NZ mothers experience 1-4 relationship transitions between pregnancy and their child being 4.5 years of age.

Speaks volumes about our social problems.






No comments: