Strategies for Understanding the Mechanisms of Mothering and Fathering

Jody M. Ganiban, Leslie D. Leve, Ginger A. Moore, Jenae M. Neiderhiser

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


It is well established that parenting influences child development. However, the mechanisms through which parenting influences child development are less clear. The role of genetic influences, via the parents or via the child is the first considered criterion. A majority of studies examining genetic influences on parenting have used child-based designs in which the children vary in degree of genetic relatedness to one another. Factor analyses of parenting behaviors assessed using twin and adoption designs and numerous studies of parenting from a socialization perspective have found two primary orthogonal factors: parental warmth and parental control. In most studies, parental warmth, support, and negativity are influenced by the child's genes and the family-wide environment i.e., shared environment. The construct of parental control, however, shows shared environmental and little to no genetic influence in such studies. In addition to the use of genetically informed child- and parent-based designs to further the understanding of genetic and environmental influences on parenting, randomized controlled trial (RCT) designs are an alternative design type that can provide unique information about factors that influence parenting. For example, highly specified environmental RCTs that target specific parenting behaviors and that show change in parenting in the intervention condition (compared to the control condition) can provide evidence of environmental influences on parenting. Further, when such environmentally based parenting interventions lead to change in child behaviors, parenting may operate as an environmental mechanism of change. © 2008

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationNeurobiology of the Parental Brain
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)9780123742858
StatePublished - 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience


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