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This article discusses the behavioral genetic (BG) approach to parenting. Parenting is considered a phenotype that can be influenced by nature and nurture. Genetic contributions to parenting are conceptualized as evidence of genotype–environment correlation (rGE). Early BG studies focused on demonstrating that some parenting dimensions were heritable due to passive and evocative rGE processes. Current studies are investigating moderators and mediators of genetic and environmental contributions to parenting. The paper uses parent and child report data on parental warmth from the Twins, Adoptees, Peers, and Siblings study to illustrate the BG approach. Results show that heritability is significant for parent and child reports, but environmental influences differ by information source. Three questions are addressed concerning the BG approach to parenting: What is the nature of parenting? How does the approach inform parenting practice and interventions? What are the future directions?


This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Parenting: Science and Practice on 14 Jun 2012, available online:

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