London – Good mothers really do bring up nicer children, a study suggests.
Teenagers whose moms show them warmth are more likely to help other people and comfort them when they are upset.
Researchers asked more than 300 young people aged 14 to 19 about what kind of mother they had, using measures such as whether she made them "feel better after talking over your worries".
Those with warm moms were more likely to be kind, moral and helpful themselves. Researchers concluded that good mothers pass down their own caring values.
Professor Alexandra Davis, who led the study from the University of New Mexico, said: "We found that mothers who are warm tend to promote moral development in their youths."
The study, published in the Journal of Moral Education, is the first to examine whether a caring mother affects their children’s feelings about others.
Not only did people with warm moms have more concern for others, but they were more likely to say yes to requests for help. The authors say people with loving mothers may have "selfless tendencies", as well as being used to pitching in with chores.
The study concludes: "Mothers who are warm may foster a deeper emotional awareness of the situations of others in their youth, ultimately promoting higher levels of empathic concern – that is feelings of sorrow or concern for others."