TIME

How Your Genes Help You Become A Good Parent

Mother holding baby girl in nursery
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Or a bad one, for that matter. A new study suggests both genetic and environmental factors determine how a parent is likely to raise a child, both positively and negatively

Scared expectant parents are always told that knowing how to take care of their offspring just comes naturally. Turns out a new study by Michigan State University psychologists backs up that theory with cold, hard facts.

A statistical analysis of 56 studies about the origins of parenting habits around the globe, involving more than 200,000 families, determined that genes play a big part in how adults choose to parent their children, according to Science Daily. The study, which was published in the Psychological Bulletin, a research journal of the American Psychological Association, found that our genetics control 23 to 40 percent of the positive and negative emotions that parents hold toward their children.

The results of this study also go against long-accepted conventional wisdom that nurturing is mostly determined by how parents were raised themselves. “The way we parent is not solely a function of the way we were parented as children,” said S. Alexandra Burt, associate professor of psychology and co-author of the study. “There also appears to be genetic influences on parenting.”

In reality, how parents choose to control their child’s behavior comes from a complex cocktail of environmental and genetic factors, including but not limited to how a child’s behavior and development influences the parent.

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