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Parenting and its Effects on Children: On Reading and Misreading Behavior Genetics

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Annual Review of Psychology

Annual Reviews

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      Abstract

      There is clear evidence that parents can and do influence children. There is equally clear evidence that children’s genetic makeup affects their own behavioral characteristics, and also influences the way they are treated by their parents. Twin and adoption studies provide a sound basis for estimating the strength of genetic effects, although heritability estimates for a given trait vary widely across samples, and no one estimate can be considered definitive. This chapter argues that knowing only the strength of genetic factors, however, is not a sufficient basis for estimating environmental ones and indeed, that attempts to do so can systematically underestimate parenting effects. Children’s genetic predispositions and their parents’ childrearing regimes are seen to be closely interwoven, and the ways in which they function jointly to affect children’s development are explored.

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      Most cited references 44

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        Recent research consistently reports that persistent poverty has more detrimental effects on IQ, school achievement, and socioemotional functioning than transitory poverty, with children experiencing both types of poverty generally doing less well than never-poor children. Higher rates of perinatal complications, reduced access to resources that buffer the negative effects of perinatal complications, increased exposure to lead, and less home-based cognitive stimulation partly account for diminished cognitive functioning in poor children. These factors, along with lower teacher expectancies and poorer academic-readiness skills, also appear to contribute to lower levels of school achievement among poor children. The link between socioeconomic disadvantage and children's socioemotional functioning appears to be mediated partly by harsh, inconsistent parenting and elevated exposure to acute and chronic stressors. The implications of research findings for practice and policy are considered.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ]Department of Psychology, Stanford University, Building 420, Jordan Hall, Stanford, California 94305–2130; email:
            Journal
            Annual Review of Psychology
            Annu. Rev. Psychol.
            Annual Reviews
            0066-4308
            1545-2085
            February 2000
            February 2000
            : 51
            : 1
            : 1-27
            10.1146/annurev.psych.51.1.1
            © 2000

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