The mental block

A few studies suggest that the way parents treat children is partly caused by what the child is like genetically, so that children who are born aggressive may misbehave as a result of the care that this evokes.

It is also claimed that parents may have genetic tendencies to look after their children in particular ways that then make them misbehave.

In a recent study published by the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry , the amount of mutuality (emotional closeness) was measured between 77 pairs of adopted eight-year-old offspring and their mothers (or primary caregivers); and between 45 pairs of siblings in which one was adopted and one was biological, and their mothers.

The amount of misbehaviour in the children was also assessed. The results showed that adoptive children were as likely to be close to their mothers as biological offspring were, likewise unrelated adopted siblings.

Within the same family, whether the children were adopted or born to the mother, the lower the level of mutuality with her, the greater the likelihood of future behaviour problems.

So it seems that being close to your mum does make you significantly less likely to have behaviour problems. Since genetic similarity between mother and child has no effect on closeness, parental genes play no direct part in causing the parenting which causes the misbehaviour.

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