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Gene‐environment correlations in the cross‐generational transmission of parenting: Grandparenting moderates the effect of child 5‐HTTLPR genotype on mothers' parenting

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Social Development

Published online on


Evidence suggests that parenting is associated cross‐generationally and that children's genes may elicit specific parenting styles (evocative gene‐environment correlation). This study examined whether the effect of children's genotype, specifically 5‐HTTLPR, on mothers' parenting behaviors was moderated by her own parenting experiences from her mother. Two independent samples of three‐year‐olds (N = 476 and 405) were genotyped for the serotonin transporter gene, and observational measures of parenting were collected. Mothers completed measures of the parenting they received as children. The child having a short allele on 5‐HTTLPR was associated with more maternal hostility (Samples 1 and 2) and with less maternal support (Sample 1), but only if the mother reported lower quality grandmothers' parenting (abuse and indifference in Sample 1 and lower levels of grandmother care in Sample 2). Results support the possibility of a moderated evocative gene‐environment correlation.