Mothers Should Avoid ‘Supermom’ Expectations, Researchers Say

May 4, 2011

Mother's Day

Mother’s Day is a chance to celebrate moms and show gratitude for all they do.

Some moms try to do too much, however, and that puts them at the risk of stress.  Two UT Dallas researchers say mothers can avoid trouble by not trying to be “supermom” and not trying to go it alone. 

Research suggests that women with children often experience more personal stress than those who aren’t mothers, said Margaret Owen, director of UT Dallas’ Center for Children and Families.

Dr. Margaret Owen

Dr. Margaret Owen

A recent study found that women often have to juggle so many different responsibilities – motherhood, marriage and job duties – that they tend to ignore the need to take care of themselves. This effort to be a supermom can lead to bigger issues that adversely affect not just the mother, but also her family.

Owen encourages women to recognize their limitations. “Prioritize and don’t push yourself too hard,” she said. Citing recommendations from the American Psychological Association, Owen encourages mothers to:

  • Learn to recognize signs of stress.
  • Learn how to manage stress by talking to close friends or family or through exercise.
  • Seek professional support when additional help is needed.
Dr. Karen Prager

Dr. Karen Prager

For more parenting resources, go to The University of Texas at Dallas’ Center for Children and Families’ website.

Working moms often experience stress because they must split their time between office and the home, but there are ways to deal with this anxiety and worry, according to another expert at UT Dallas. Partners from their personal and professional lives can help mitigate the stress that comes from dividing energy and efforts.

“An excellent caregiver – and eventually, an excellent preschool – can help moms feel good about the decision to work and raise children,” said Karen Prager, head of the gender studies program and professor of psychology at UT Dallas. “Fathers can contribute to a mother’s sense of well-being by actively parenting, and by showing a genuine interest in doing so. Employers also can help by offering real time off where mothers don’t even have to think about work, allowing them to be fully devoted to their families.”


Media Contact: Emily Martinez, UT Dallas, (214) 905-3049, emily.martinez@utdallas.edu
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu
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