A study on twins and their offspring provides another chunk of evidence that the effect of environment has been overrated. The parents fight because it is in their genes to do so and so their kids behave poorly due to the same genes.
Children's conduct problems--skipping school, sneaking out of the house, lying to parents, shoplifting, or bullying other children--are a major source of concern for parents and teachers. As a potential cause of these problems, parents' marital conflict has received a lot of research attention. Now a new study finds that parents' fighting may not be to blame but rather that parents who argue a lot may pass on genes for disruptive behavior to their children.
The findings are published in the January/February 2007 issue of the journal Child Development.
A group of researchers from the University of Virginia and several other universities looked at this question, studying 1,045 twins and their 2,051 children. Some of the parents were identical twins and shared all of their genes and some were fraternal and shared only half of their genes. The study found that parents' fighting is not likely a cause of children's conduct problems. On the other hand, parents' genes influenced how often they argued with their spouses and these same genes, when passed to their children, caused more conduct problems.
"This study suggests that marital conflict is not a major culprit, but genes are," said K. Paige Harden, the lead researcher and professor of psychology at the University of Virginia. "Our findings have potential implications for treating conduct problems: Focusing on a child's parents, as is common in family therapy, may not be as effective as focusing on the child."
So if your kids are bad you and your spouse are still to blame. But you are to blame for your genes, not for your behavior.
What I want to know: When offspring genetic engineering becomes possible will people who tend to have low triggers for violence decide to edit out the genetic sequences that cause this when choosing genes for their offspring? Or will they give their kids even stronger doses of the genes that make them carry on yelling and screaming and fighting?
|Share |||Randall Parker, 2007 February 06 11:03 PM Brain Genetics|