Maternal-intrusion ideas challenged

Monday, September 20, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 2:48 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

Jean Ispa, professor of human development and family studies at MU, found discrepancies in the typical ideas about the effect of maternal intrusion into a child’s play, according to an MU News Bureau press release.

The commonly-held belief is that a mother should not direct or stop her child’s play because the child’s creativity and social skills as well as the mother-child relationship will be harmed. However, Ispa found this idea doesn’t necessarily apply in nonwhite families.

She measured the child’s level of negativity, engagement with the mother and “dyadic mutuality,” which is where the mother and child experience similar feelings.

In Mexican-American families, maternal intrusion did not affect child engagement, and in African-American families, the only effect was on child negativity.

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