Parenting behaviours associated with the development of adaptive and maladaptive offspring personality traits

Can J Psychiatry. 2011 Aug;56(8):447-56. doi: 10.1177/070674371105600802.


Objectives: To investigate the associations of beneficial parenting behaviours with adaptive and maladaptive offspring personality traits that persist into adulthood among individuals in the community.

Methods: Families (n = 669) participating in the Children in the Community Study were interviewed during the childhood, adolescence, emerging adulthood, and adulthood of the offspring at the mean ages of 6, 14, 16, 22, and 33 years.

Results: Twelve types of beneficial maternal and paternal child-rearing behaviour, reported by offspring at the mean age of 16 years, were associated with elevated offspring personality resiliency, at the mean ages of 22 and 33 years, and with low offspring personality disorder trait levels. These longitudinal associations remained significant when histories of childhood behaviour problems and parental psychiatric disorder were controlled statistically. Similar linear (that is, dose-dependent) associations were observed between the number of beneficial parenting behaviours during childhood and adaptive and maladaptive offspring traits at the mean ages of 22 and 33 years. Maternal and paternal behaviours were independently associated with both adaptive and maladaptive offspring traits.

Conclusions: Beneficial maternal and paternal child-rearing behaviours may promote the development of adaptive offspring personality traits that endure into adulthood, and they may be prospectively associated with reduced levels of maladaptive offspring traits. These associations may not be attributable to childhood behaviour problems or parental psychiatric disorders, and they may be equally evident during early and middle adulthood.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Parents / psychology
  • Personality
  • Personality Assessment
  • Personality Development*
  • Personality Disorders / etiology*
  • Personality Disorders / psychology
  • Young Adult