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Great Moms Pass Parenting Skills to Daughters

Study finds no such relationship for dads, however

FRIDAY, March 25, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Mothers who provide their children with a positive, nurturing environment most likely received the same kind of upbringing from their own mothers, researchers believe.

This hand-me-down parenting style may not apply to dads, however, according to the study.

"Numerous studies have found that negative parenting behavior, such as harsh discipline or even child abuse, is often transmitted across generations," lead researcher Jay Belsky, director of the Institute for the Study of Children, Families and Social Issues at Birkbeck University of London, said in a prepared statement.

"But there exists very little work on whether positive parenting is similarly transmitted across generations, especially work that actually follows up in adulthood individuals who were studied during childhood," Belsky said.

Reporting in the March/April issue of the journal Child Development, Belsky's team focused on 228 New Zealand residents born in the early 1970s.

They found that women were more likely to use a warm, sensitive and stimulating parenting style if they were raised in a "low-authoritarian" household during their preschool years; had a cohesive, positive family environment and little conflict during their middle childhood years; and an open, trusting, communicative and close relationship with their parents during their teen years.

Belsky said the findings show "it is not just problematic parenting, known to undermine a child's well being, that can be handed down across generations, but also the kind of parenting known to foster healthy child development."

One major question is why the study found that the parenting approach of mothers, but not fathers, is influenced by their own treatment during childhood. Belsky cautioned that the finding could be due to the fact that data analyzed by the researchers didn't include much information on fathering.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more about parenting influences.

SOURCE: Society for Research in Child Development, news release, March 25, 2005
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