Study: Putting On A “Happy Face” For The Kids Takes An Emotional Toll

Do you ever hide unpleasant emotions from your kids? Researchers used Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to give parents two surveys. For one, 162 parents were asked to describe three situations that had happened within the past four weeks, including a regular interaction with their child, a time they suppressed a negative emotion and a time they amplified how happy they felt. Study co-author Emily Impett, a professor if psychology at the University of Toronto explains the results, saying, “For the average parent, the findings suggest when they attempt to hide their negative emotion expression and over-express their positive emotions with their children, it actually comes at a cost: Doing so may lead parents to feel worse themselves.” It turns out parents feel worse because they feel they’re being less authentic, or less true to themselves when they’re faking it. Impett adds, “Future research should identify more adaptive ways for parents to regulate their emotions that allow them to feel true to themselves and contribute to the most joyful and optimal experiences of parenting.”