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Nurtured child most likely good mum: study
Updated: 2005-03-31 13:47

Girls raised in a positive, nurturing environment during their preschool, childhood and adolescent years are much more likely to raise their own children that way.

An international consortium of researchers says in the March/April 2005 issue of the journal Child Development that the study of 200 New Zealand families also shows such parenting during the early years helps boost language, emotional well-being, thinking skills and academic achievement,

The researchers said in the scientific journal that women, but not men, raised within a low-authoritarian household during the preschool years, with a cohesive, positive family environment and little conflict during the middle childhood years, who established a trusting, openly communicative, and close relationship with their parents during their teenage years, were more likely to engage in a warm, sensitive, stimulating parenting style themselves when raising the next generation.

Lead researcher Jay Belsky, director of the Institute for the Study of Children, Families and Social Issues at London University's Birkbeck College, said there had been little other work on whether positive parenting was transmitted across generations, especially work that followed individuals in adulthood who were studied during childhood.

In comments about the study, Belsky said there had been many studies showing that negative parenting behavior, such as harsh discipline or even child abuse, was often transmitted across generations.

Belsky and researchers from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and the University of Otago and Canterbury University, studied positive parenting using the Dunedin longitudinal sample of more than 1000 New Zealanders born in the early 1970s.

The team's study, said Belsky, shows that "it is not just problematic parenting, known to undermine a child's well being, that can be handed down across generations, but also the kind of parenting known to foster healthy child development."

One of the mysteries still to be resolved, he said, was why child-rearing history only predicted how mothers parented, but not fathers.

This could have resulted from the fact that the information collected from the initial children in the study included very little information on fathering, said Belsky.

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