Now is not the time to bit your tongue.
For many of us, part of becoming an adult means realizing (perhaps reluctantly) just how right our parents were about things we definitely didn’t appreciate when we were kids or teenagers. You can give them credit now, but when you think back to how it felt to be told you had to do invite so-and-so to your party, or that taking the easy way out was wrong, or that there was no breaking curfew even on prom night, you can remember the angst you felt. Well, now science is proving there’s another reason you can credit your parents with at least some portion of your success—especially if you’re a woman. Whether you decide to tell them is up to you.
A study conducted by University of Essex found that girls whose parents continually reminded them of their high parental standards were more likely to succeed. That’s right—all those regular comments about expecting certain behaviors and not permitting others (more commonly known as nagging by 14-year-olds the world over) are actually working. Eye rolls and sighs notwithstanding.
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The study followed 15,000 British girls for 10 years, from age 13 and 14 to age 23 and 24. The researchers found that the girls who received the most consistent reminders of high expectations from the “main parent” (typically the mother) were far less likely to fall into the traps that often prevent success. Specifically, those girls were less likely to get pregnant as teenagers, more likely to graduate high school and attend college, and less likely to be unemployed or employed in low-earning, dead-end jobs. This certainly didn’t mean the girls always seemed receptive of or grateful for these nagging reminders, but the researchers found that even if they acted like they weren’t listening, the comments still made an impact on them.
In a Daily Mail article article aptly titled “Behind Every Successful Woman Is a Nagging Mom? Teenage Girls More Likely to Succeed If They Have Pushy Mothers,” researcher Ericka Rascon-Ramirez said, “No matter how hard we tried to avoid our parents’ recommendations, it is likely that they ended up influencing, in a more subtle manner, choices that we had considered extremely personal.” Yep, you’re not the only one with your parents’ voices in your head, even still as adults. For those who are now parents themselves, take heart that all the effort you’ve made to bite your tongue and be a cool, more relaxed parent isn’t really worth it. Even if your kids don’t seem to be listening (and this study’s findings can certainly apply to sons as much as daughters), repetitive, subliminal messaging works. Try not to take any slammed doors too personally, and just remember: They’ll realize you were right one day.