Compensatory parenting: how mothers describe parenting their 3-year-old, prematurely born children.
Premature infants and their mothers experience difficulties in establishing their relationships. The effect of these early problems on later parenting is not known. This study explored whether mothers' recollections surrounding the birth and hospitalization of a preterm infant affected their perceptions and their parenting of these children at 3 years of age. Twenty-seven primary caregivers of 30 prematurely born children completed three questionnaires on their perceptions of their children and were interviewed about parenting experiences. The core concept identified in analysis was compensatory parenting, a parenting style in which mothers provided special experiences and avoided others in an attempt to compensate the children for their neonatal experiences. Compensatory parenting was influenced by the view of these prematurely born children as both special and normal and by salient prenatal, labor, and delivery experiences; memories of the neonatal intensive care unit experience; the sequelae of emotional responses to these experiences; and subsequent health problems after discharge. Prospective research is needed to further study compensatory parenting and to develop interventions.
Miles, MS; Holditch-Davis, D
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