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Genetics and Parenting

Authored by: Amanda V. Broderick , Jenae M. Neiderhiser

Handbook of Parenting

Print publication date:  February  2019
Online publication date:  March  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138228689
eBook ISBN: 9780429401459
Adobe ISBN:


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Parenting is a dynamic, multiply determined process that is influenced by a range of extra-familial (e.g., cultural context) and intra-familial factors (e.g., interparental relationships) (Bornstein, 2016). Generally, researchers have been interested in parenting as the means by which the environment shapes the developing child. A number of theoretical models of how parents influence their children (e.g., socialization, modeling) have been generated, with these models typically assuming that parenting operates via social transmission of behaviors. Yet, the ability of children to shape their own environments has been understood for nearly five decades (Bell, 1968), and within biologically related families, parents have not only an environmental influence, but a genetic one as well. Thus, unless explicitly modeled, associations between parenting and child outcomes may be due, in part, to confounds from unmeasured heritable influences. It may be, for instance, that children’s heritable characteristics evoke certain types of parenting, such as when parents respond negatively to adolescents’ aggression (Narusyte, Andershed, Neiderhiser, and Lichtenstein, 2007). Alternatively, relations between parenting and child outcomes may be due to shared genetics between parents and children. For example, parents who are high in irritability may be more likely to use harsh parenting strategies and to have children who are also irritable (Prinzie et al., 2004).

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