Parentchild Relationships

In two significant articles on parenting, W. Andrew Collins and his colleagues, writing in American Psychologist, and Eleanor Maccoby, writing in Annual Review of Psychology, both noted that an enormous body of literature supports the important role of parents in shaping the development of children. Collins and his colleagues and Maccoby were responding in part to the contention ofJudith Harris, author of The Nurture Assumption, that parental influence on child development may not be as great as the influence of genetic predispositions and the influence of peers. Maccoby persuasively argued that such a contention is out of date in view of genetic studies suggesting that experiences children have with parents and others can modify genetic influence and of the substantial body of literature showing the importance of parent-child relationships for a child's development. This large body of literature suggests that it is the quality of the parent-child relationship that is particularly important in understanding the course of the child's development; and that the parent-child relationship is co-constructed by the parent and the child, not something that comes from the parent alone. In this article, consideration is given to what aspects of parent-child relationships are associated with the development of competence and well-being in children and how the parent-child relationship changes over time and with development. Also considered are the factors that contribute to these qualities of parent-child relationships.

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