Young Moms Follow Their Mother's Parenting Style

MONDAY Aug. 10, 2009 -- The expression "like mother, like daughter" appears to hold true when it comes to raising children.

Women are more likely than men to follow the parenting practices of their mothers, a generational study has found.

Ohio State University researchers analyzed survey results from 1,133 young parents who were asked how often they spanked their children in the past week, how often they showed their children physical affection and praised them in the past week, and how often they read to their child in the past month. The participants of this study were chosen from a group whose own parents had been part of a nationwide survey that began in 1979.

For all three behaviors -- spanking children, giving physical affection/praise, and reading to children -- women closely followed what their mothers did. This was not the case among men, the study authors found.

"We were surprised that mothers seem to learn a lot about the parenting role from their own mothers, but fathers don't follow their mothers as much," study co-author Jonathan Vespa, a doctoral student in sociology, said in a news release from the university.

"There was good reason to expect that fathers would have learned parenting from their mothers," Vespa explained. "These fathers were growing up in the [1970s and 1980s] and received much of their parenting from their mothers. Although more women were entering the workforce then, they still did the lion's share of parenting and child care," he added.

"We really need to learn a lot more about how fathers learn to parent," Vespa said.

As for generational parenting practices, the researchers found significant changes with much more reading and affection shown to children today, and less spanking.

"While parents, particularly women, are learning many parenting practices from their mothers, there [are] also a lot of new practices they are picking up from the broader culture," Vespa said.

The findings were to be presented this week at the American Sociological Association annual meeting, in San Francisco.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more about parenting influences.

Posted: August 2009


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