Multivariate behavior genetic studies of parenting and early child development
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Transactional perspectives posit that caregivers, in addition to instilling their norms and values in their children through socialization, modify their parenting practices in response to children’s characteristics. Although both phenotypic and behavioral genetic literature have consistently documented the mutual influences of parenting and early child development on one another, multivariate examinations of these parent- and child-driven processes are scarce. This dissertation investigates gene-environment interplay at both general and specific dimensions of parenting and early child development. All three studies capitalize on primary data collection from a population-based sample of families with twins or multiples aged 0-6 years. Study 1 presents evidence for substantial genetically mediated child influences on both general and specific dimensions of parenting. Study 2 supports the importance of child-environment dynamics in early child development by presenting evidence for age-related growth in generalist genetic influences shared across multiple ability domains. To further elucidate the association between parenting and child development, Study 3 probes the extent to which genetic and environmental pathways mediate the associations between an array of parenting practices and child outcomes at both general and specific dimensions. These three studies together highlight the complexity and dynamic nature of associations between parenting and early child development.