364 Childhood Memories & Health

Research by Chopik, William. J., & Edelstein, Robin. S. (2019).

Written by Shannon Cantalupo, B.S.

Do our memories of early experiences of being cared for by parents affect our mental and physical health in later life?

Researchers studied early caregiving memories, depressive symptoms and physical health in middle-aged and older adults. They used two samples: 7,100 individuals in midlife and 15,200 in retirement.

The psychologists asked participants questions about their relationships with their mothers and fathers and their perceptions of parental affection. A self-report questionnaire measured their health and chronic conditions. A checklist assessed their depressive symptoms.

Results? For both the middle-age and older samples, participants reporting higher levels of mother affection in early childhood had better physical health and fewer depressive symptoms. Perceptions of higher father support were associated with better physical health for both samples but only fewer depressive symptoms for those retired. In only the middle age sample, perceiving mother and father affection was associated with fewer chronic health conditions.

Parents!  Show you love and support your child: give them hugs, affection, smiles. Praise their efforts. Thank them for being helpful and kind. Spend time with them. Support them in their endeavors. You will strengthen your relationship and benefit your children’s mental and physical health later in life!


Chopik, W. J., & Edelstein, R. S. (2019). Retrospective memories of parental care and health from mid- to late life. Health Psychology, 38(1), 84 – 93.

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