What parents learn from experience: The first child as a first draft?

Shawn D. Whiteman, Susan M. Mchale, Ann C. Crouter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


This study sought evidence for the proposition that experiences with earlier-born adolescents will improve parents' interactions with and parenting of later-born adolescents. Participants were mothers, fathers, and both first- and second-born siblings from 392 families participating in a longitudinal study. To collect information on siblings' family experiences, family members were interviewed individually in their homes. During the subsequent 2 to 3 weeks, 7 evening telephone interviews were also conducted, which focused on siblings' daily activities. Findings suggest that when parent-adolescent relationships were measured at the same age for both siblings, parents experienced less conflict with their second-bom as compared with their firstborn adolescent offspring and exhibited greater knowledge of their second-born offspring's daily activities as compared with their firstborns' daily experiences. These results are consistent with the notion that parents may learn from their childrearing experiences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)608-621
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Marriage and Family
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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