One of the more significant causes of fighting between co-parents, I’m guessing, is differences in style or technique in raising your kids. As much as you might talk about the kind of parents you want to be during those blessedly quiet pre-child evenings, when the baby actually arrives some of those plans go right out the window. And finding out that your usually patient spouse is actually a yeller or that your hard-nosed partner is a creampuff can cause conflicts you couldn’t have foreseen before your little ones arrived.
Turns out that for women, a lot of what they learned about mothering comes from their mothers. Men, however, are much less likely to follow their mothers’ parenting practices.
That’s the upshot of a study by researchers at Ohio State University, who tracked around a thousand young adults aged 14 to 22 in 1979 annually, surveying them about their parenting practices, and then tracked the children of those original respondents asking about theirs.
Daughters are much more likely to follow their mother’s lead on spanking, physical affection and praise, aspects of parenting the study tracked. Sons tend to be much more likely to go their own way. The original survey didn’t ask about how fathers treated their children, though, so it’s hard to tell exactly where sons were getting their ideas about parenting.
There have been huge generational shifts, though. Parents today are much more likely to read to their children daily and show physical affection, while they’re much less likely to spank.
Researchers say there needs to be much more work done on looking at how parents learn how to parent. Obviously if it were a matter of just doing as our parent did we would not see the generational shifts the researchers uncovered, but it’s still something of a mystery exactly how we form our ideas about how to raise our kids.