Intergenerational Transmission of Harsh Parenting

Ronald L. Simons, Les B. Whitbeck, Rand D. Conger, Wu Chyi-In

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

286 Scopus citations


A social learning model was developed that portrayed four processes whereby harsh parenting might be transmitted across generations. The model was tested using a sample of 451 2-parent families, each of which included a 7th grader. Both parent self-report and adolescent-report measures were utilized for the harsh parenting construct. Analysis using structural equation modeling procedures showed that grandparents who had engaged in aggressive parenting produced presentday parents who were likely to use similar parenting practices. The effect was stronger for mothers than for fathers. In addition to a direct modeling effect, there was evidence that similarities across generations regarding the harsh discipline of male children are in part a function of socioeconomic characteristics being transmitted across generations. There was little support for the contention that parents transmit their aggressive parenting practices indirectly by influencing the personality and parenting beliefs of their children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-171
Number of pages13
JournalDevelopmental psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1991
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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