Imperial College London: Mothers' and fathers' parenting behaviour is more likely to resemble their own mothers' than their fathers', according to a new study. Researchers filmed 146 mothers and 146 fathers interacting with their young children, and used questionnaires to record their perceptions of the quality of parenting they received. Parents whose mothers showed more affection showed more positive parenting behaviour with their own children, while those whose mothers were more controlling showed more negative parenting behaviour. The parenting behaviour of their fathers was not associated with how parents interacted with their children.
Warm and supportive parenting is
associated with academic achievement, psychosocial development and
emotional stability, while harsh parenting is associated with child
aggression and conduct problems. But the extent to which parenting
quality is transmitted from one generation to the next is unclear.
The new study, funded by the Wellcome Trust,
is one of only a few to address this question by observing parents’
behaviour directly, looking at both positive and negative aspects of
parenting in both mothers and fathers. The findings are published in the
European Journal of Public Health.
Study author Dr Paul Ramchandani, from the Department of Medicine
at Imperial College London, said: “Parenting plays a fundamental role
in children’s development, affecting health, social and educational
outcomes in later life, so it’s of utmost importance to society that we
have a greater understanding of the complex issue of parenting
The participants were recruited from maternity wards
in Oxford and Milton Keynes as part of the Oxford Fathers Study, and
followed up for two years from the birth of their child. They were
filmed interacting with their children aged two at home.
author Dr Vaishnavee Madden said: “The results should be interpreted
with caution due to the various limitations of the study, but they
suggest that interventions to help parents be more engaged and
responsive could have longer-term benefits that aren’t currently