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It’s science: The mother-daughter bond is even more powerful than we thought

The findings also have helpful implications for preventative mental health treatment.

It’s science: The mother-daughter bond is even more powerful than we thought

If your mom is still at the top of your speed-dial list, science explains the reason for that: mother-daughter relationships are the strongest of all parent-child bonds when it comes to the common ways their brains process emotion, according to a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience.


That's because while the connections between mothers and sons, father and daughters or fathers and sons may be built on solid foundations of love, they aren't always as strong in the empathy departments. Based on the findings, brain chemistry is responsible for that.

According to the 2016 study on 35 families, the part of the brain that regulates emotions is more similar between mothers and daughters than any other intergenerational pairing.

That means mom is more likely to understand where you're coming from when faced with a problem because she could imagine herself in your shoes. (Or it could explain all the times you two have butt heads—the same sides of magnets repel each other, after all.)

The study also has potentially helpful implications when it comes to our understanding of mental health conditions. Lead author Fumiko Hoeft, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, explained that the examined corticolimbic system is strongly tied to depression.

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Delicate reminders of your special bond


That makes mothers' mental health experiences good predictors for the daughters. And, considering there are good outcomes for preventative depression treatments, that knowledge of family history can be hugely helpful.

As the study was just the first to use intergenerational MRIs to compare brain structures, Hoeft hopes further research can explore the link with other mental health conditions in ways that could benefit all members of the family. In a press release, she said, “Anxiety, autism, addition, schizophrenia, dyslexia, you name it—brain patterns inherited from both mothers and fathers have an impact on just about all of them."

Although the research base was small, other studies have explored the deep bond between mamas and daughters: One recent study found moms favor daughters (and dads favor sons) because of shared-experience bias.

Another study determined the connection between mothers and daughters remains stronger than other type of intergenerational family relationship throughout all the changes of life. Not surprisingly, more research has shown mothers and daughters influence each other—for better or worse—in different ways than other relationships.

Now we know that is both a matter of the heart and the brain.

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These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

I started to search for an outlet that would get my girls moving safely while we social distance, but at first I didn't find a lot of solutions. Online videos either weren't terribly engaging for my active kids, or the messaging wasn't as positive around the power of movement as I would like. Then I found the Nike PLAYlist.

I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

1. Go apple picking.

Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

To wear: These Printed Training Tights are perfect for when even a casual walk turns into a race (and they help my daughter scurry up a branch for the big apples).

2. Visit a pumpkin patch.

We love to pick up a few locally grown pumpkins to decorate or cook with each year. Challenge your child to a "strongman" contest and see who can lift the heaviest pumpkin while you're there.

To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

3. Have a nature scavenger hunt.

Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite ways to keep my daughter preoccupied all year long. We love to get outside and search for acorns, leaves and pinecones as part of our homeschool, but it's also just a great way to get her exercising those gross motor skills whenever the wiggles start to build up.

To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

4. Have a touch-football game.

Tip for parents with very little kids: It doesn't have to last as long as a real football game. 😂 In fact, staging our own mini-games is one of our favorite ways to get everyone up and moving in between quarters during Sunday football, and I promise we all sleep better that night.

To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

Pretending the floor is lava was just the beginning. See how elaborate your personal course can get, from jumping on the couch to rolling under the coffee table to hopping down the hallway on one foot.

To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

This article was sponsored by Nike. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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