Genes play key role in parenting
Scientists have presented the most conclusive evidence yet that genes play a significant role in parenting.
A study by two Michigan State University psychologists shows genetic influences in parents account for 23% to 40% of parental warmth, control and negativity towards their children. It refutes the popular theory that how adults parent their children is strictly a function of the way they were themselves parented in their childhood.
While environmental factors do play a role in parenting, so do a person's genes, said S Alexandra Burt, associate professor of psychology. "The way we parent is not solely a function of the way we were parented as children. There also appears to be genetic influences on parenting."
The study sheds light on another misconception: that parenting is solely a top-down process from parent to child. While parents certainly seem to shape child behaviour, parenting also is influenced by the child's behaviour — in other words, parenting is both a cause and a consequence of child behaviour.
Burt and doctoral student Ashlea M Klahr, who led the study, conducted a statistical analysis of 56 scientific studies from around the world on the origins of parenting behaviour, including some of their own. The comprehensive analysis involved more than 20,000 families from Australia to Japan to the US.
"What's still not clear, however, is whether genes directly influence parenting or do so indirectly, through parent personality for example," Klahr said.
Ultimately, parenting styles stem from many factors. "Parents have their own experiences when they were children, their own personalities, their own genes," Burt said. "On top of that, they are also responding to their child's behaviours and stage of development. Basically, there are a lot of influences happening simultaneously. Long story short, though, we need to be sensitive to the fact that this is a two-way process between parent and child that is both environmental and genetic."
The study is published in Psychological Bulletin, a research journal of the American Psychological Association. - See more at: http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2014/genes-play-key-role-in-parenting/#sthash.3f7q1MbE.dpuf