A new study that looks at data on three generations of Oregon families shows that "positive parenting" – including factors such as warmth, monitoring children's activities, involvement, and consistency of discipline – not only has positive impacts on adolescents, but on the way they parent their own children.
The study will be published in the September issue of the journal Developmental Psychology in a special issue devoted to findings of some of the few long-term studies of intergenerational family processes.
Kerr said there is often an assumption that people learn parenting methods from their own parents. In fact, he said most research shows that a direct link between what a person experiences as a child and what she or he does as a parent is fairly weak.
"Instead, what we find is that 'negative' parenting such as hostility and lack of follow-through leads to 'negative' parenting in the next generation not through observation, but by allowing problem behavior to take hold in adolescence," Kerr said. "For instance, if you try to control your child with anger and threats, he learns to deal in this way with peers, teachers, and eventually his own children.
If you do not track where your child is, others will take over your job of teaching him about the world.
"We knew that these negative pathways can be very strong," Kerr said. "What surprised us is how strong positive parenting pathways are as well. Positive parenting is not just the absence of negative influences, but involves taking an active role in a child's life."
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The researchers found that children who had parents who monitored their behavior, were consistent with rules and were warm and affectionate were more likely to have close relationships with their peers, be more engaged in school, and have better self-esteem.
"So part of what good parenting does is not only protect you against negative behaviors but instill positive connections with others during adolescence that then impact how you relate with your partner and your own child as an adult," Kerr said
"This research shows that when we think about the value of prevention, we should consider an even wider lens than is typical," he added. "We see now that changes in parenting can have an effect not just on children but even on grandchildren."
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
Legacy: Positive Parenting
Science Daily reports on a new parenting study, with an important insight: effective parenting education can become a legacy for generations to come....