Page last updated at 11:48 GMT, Thursday, 2 October 2008 12:48 UK

Mothers' pride 'aids daughters'

Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York and her daughters, Princesses, Beatrice (left) and Eugenie
Mothers may value education particularly highly for their daughters

Ambitious mothers produce super-confident daughters, a University of London study has suggested.

A study of more than 3,000 children born in 1970 found girls whose mothers had high hopes for their future felt more in control of their lives at 30.

Girls whose mothers predicted at age 10 that they would go on to further education had greater self-esteem as adults - there was no link for boys.

But women's earnings were not linked to their mother's expectations.

Ambitions for the children's future education was used as a measure of the mother's belief in her child's capabilities.

Mothers were asked if they thought their child would stay on to 16, 17 or 18.

Mothers may feel it's more important to push and encourage their daughters and that could relate to their own situation and background
Kairen Cullen

The link between mothers' expectations for their daughters and their future confidence remained even when factors such as social class, family structure and education were taken into account, New Scientist magazine reported.

Those included in the study tended to be better educated and less disadvantaged than the general population so the effect of the mother's high expectations may be underestimated, the researchers said.

Big push

It is thought mothers may push their daughters to achieve in higher education more than their sons, even if they have similar expectations for them.

Mothers may particularly value education in their daughters, the researchers said.

Or daughters may emulate mothers who are ambitious.

Study leader Dr Eirini Flouri said the finding was an important one "given that women are particularly at risk for poor psychological and economic outcomes in adulthood".

Kairen Cullen, spokeswoman for the British Psychological Society and an educational psychologist said other studies had shown that children relate strongly to the same gender parent.

But she added: "It would be fascinating to see what effect fathers' expectations have on daughters - I have a sense that fathers' expectations could have an effect on both genders."

"Mothers may feel it's more important to push and encourage their daughters and that could relate to their own situation and background."




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