Understanding child-based effects on parenting: Temperament as a moderator of genetic and environmental contributions to parenting

Jody M. Ganiban, Jennifer Ulbricht, Kimberly J. Saudino, David Reiss, Jenae M. Neiderhiser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


The degree to which child temperament moderates genetic and environmental contributions to parenting was examined. Participants were drawn from the Nonshared Environment and Adolescent Development project and included 720 sibling pairs, ages 13.5 + 2.0 years (Sibling 1) to 12.1 + 1.3 years (Sibling 2). The sample consisted of 6 sibling types: 93 monozygotic twin pairs, 99 dizygotic twin pairs, and 95 full sibling pairs from never-divorced families and 182 full-sibling, 109 half-sibling, and 130 unrelated-sibling pairs residing in stepfamilies. Composite child temperament ratings (negative emotionality, activity, shyness, and sociability) were derived from mothers' and fathers' reports. Composite parenting ratings (negativity, warmth) for mothers and fathers were generated from children's and parents' reports. Analyses indicated that at higher levels of negative emotionality and sociability, child-based genetic contributions to mothers' and fathers' negativity increased, whereas the contributions of environmental factors declined. The opposite pattern was observed for child shyness. These same characteristics had less impact on parental warmth. For fathers only, nonshared environmental contributions to fathers' warmth increased in the presence of high child activity and sociability but declined when children were very shy. Overall these findings indicate that child-based effects on negative parenting are enhanced when children demonstrate potentially challenging characteristics but are weaker in the absence of such characteristics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)676-692
Number of pages17
JournalDevelopmental psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Demography
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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