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Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2013 Nov;48(11):1841-9. doi: 10.1007/s00127-013-0656-4. Epub 2013 Jan 24.

Parenting and risk for mood, anxiety and substance use disorders: a study in population-based male twins.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, USA,



Previous studies consistently identified a relationship between parenting behavior and psychopathology. In this study, we extended prior analyses performed in female twins to a large sample of twins from male-male pairs.


We used interview data on 2,609 adult male twins from a population-based twin registry. We examined the association between three retrospectively reported parenting dimensions (coldness, protectiveness, and authoritarianism) and lifetime history of seven common psychiatric and substance use disorders. Using univariate structural equation modeling, we also examined the influence of the genetic and environmental factors on parenting.


Examined individually, coldness was consistently associated with risk for a broad range of adult psychopathology. Averaged odds of psychiatric disorders associated with parenting were increased between 26 and 36 %. When the three parenting dimensions were examined together, coldness remained significant for major depression, phobia, and generalized anxiety disorder. Controlling for other disorders, the associations between the parenting dimensions and psychopathology were non-specific. Twin fitting model demonstrated that modest heritability accounted for parenting, whereas most variance resulted from the non-shared environment.


Based on our current and prior findings, there is broad similarity in the impact of parenting on adult psychopathology between men and women.

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