Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Was Larkin right? Up to a point ...

Man hands on misery to man
It deepens like a coastal shelf
So get out early while you can
And don't have any kids yourself

That was Philip Larkin's rather gloomy view on parenting but was he right? Researchers at Ohio State University looked at how often parents in the 1990s spanked, read to and showed affection to their children and compared that to how the parents were treated by their own mothers. They found that while mothers tended to follow the same practices their own mothers did fathers were much less influenced by their mothers' parenting in how they brought up their own children. However, the study also showed significant changes in parenting between the generations with increases in the amount of reading and affection shown to children and decreases in the amount of spanking. Mothers who were spanked at least once a week were 50% more likely to spank their own children than mothers who weren't spanked at all whereas fathers who were spanked as kids were less likely to spank their own children. More mothers (43%) than fathers (28%) spanked their children. Interestingly, fathers who spanked their children also showed the highest levels of affection perhaps feeling that being a strict disciplinarian was part of their love for their children.

You can find out more about this research at

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