People cope with stress in different ways, and parents are no exception. A new study has found that the current economic recession has triggered a rise in “harsh parenting” methods, such as spanking and yelling.
But what’s particularly interesting is that there’s a genetic component to harsh parenting that has come out of stressful times. Researchers concluded that mothers who carry a certain gene will react more harshly toward their children in times of economic woe.
Sociologist Dohoon Lee at New York University found a sudden spike in aggressive parenting six to seven months after the start of the current economic recession in December 2007 — but only in mothers who carried a particular gene.
Lee reported that mothers who inherited one or two copies of the dopamine D2 receptor gene were more likely to report a sudden bump in hardline parenting just after reports of a recession became widespread. The harshness then leveled off for a few months until it dropped to pre-recession levels around June 2009. Lee presented these findings at the annual Sociological Society meeting recently.
Mothers who didn’t carry the dopamine D2 receptor variants did not report a similar surge in aggressiveness.
ScienceNews.org reports that this same gene has also been “tied to a propensity for violence, alcoholism, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and several other psychiatric conditions.” Other studies conclude there is no connection between this gene and mental problems.
Lee based these findings on monthly surveys of almost 5,000 mothers of 9-year-olds living in 20 cities around the U.S. DNA samples of participants had already been obtained as a part of a long-term study on parenting and child development.
Photo: Sunfox via flickr
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