The global recession is enough to put a strain on many family finances. But genetic science is suggesting that some moms feel the strain more, and are more likely to practice harsh parenting.
The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reveals that difficult economic conditions may lead to mothers engaging in harsh parenting, such as shouting or hitting children. But it is more apparent in mothers who carry a particular gene variation.
Researchers at New York University, Columbia University, Princeton University and Pennsylvania State University's College of Medicine, analyzed data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFS). This a population-based cohort study across 20 large US cities of around 5,000 children born in the years 1998-2000.
Following birth, the mothers of the children were interviewed when their child was at 1, 3, 5 and 9 years of age. The researchers collected data on harsh parenting when the children were at 3, 5 and 9 years of age, and at age 9, saliva DNA samples were collected from 2,600 children and their mothers.
The harsh parenting data was gathered using the Conflict Tactics Scale. Five areas measured psychological harsh parenting, such as shouting and threatening, while five areas measured corporal punishment, such as slapping and spanking.
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