What is the role of mother’s employment referring to overhelping tendency towards a chronically ill child? - The article presents an empirical research aimed to explore if employed (vs. not employed) mothers of chronically ill children (vs. healthy ones) overhelp more their ill children and express more negative emotions (shame, anxiety or sadness) when helping them. Twenty mother-child dyads, balanced for the child gender, were videotaped during a 10 min. gaming simulation, evoking the child’s need of being helped in relation to a simple problemsolving (puzzle). Results show that unemployed mothers tend to overhelp more their children when they are healthy (vs. chronically ill), while employed mothers tend to overhelp more their children when they are chronically ill (vs. healthy). During the helping game, unemployed mothers show significantly higher NVC’s signals of anxiety, sadness and shame, and mothers of chronically ill children show higher NVC’s signals of sadness and shame. Nevertheless, anxiety seem to be influenced by an interaction effect of mother’s employment and health status of child, similar to the one shown by overhelp behaviour. Moreover, checking for the three observed negative emotions, a significant correlation was found only between overhelping behaviour and anxiety. The role of mother’s employment as a risk or as a protection referring to the overhelping behaviour is discussed.
Key words: overhelp, mother-child dyad, mothers’ employment, negative emotions, anxiety, simulation game
Parole chiave: sovraiuto, diade madre-bambino, occupazione materna, emozioni negative, ansia, gioco di simulazione