Parenting Behaviors Associated With Risk for Offspring Personality Disorder During Adulthood

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Abstract

Context

Research has suggested that some types of parental child-rearing behavior may be associated with risk for offspring personality disorder (PD), but the association of parenting with offspring PD has not been investigated comprehensively with prospective longitudinal data.

Objective

To investigate the association of parental child-rearing behavior with risk for offspring PD during adulthood.

Design

The Children in the Community study, a prospective longitudinal investigation.

Setting and Participants

A community-based sample of 593 families interviewed during childhood (mean age, 6 years), adolescence (mean ages, 14 and 16 years), emerging adulthood (mean age, 22 years), and adulthood (mean age, 33 years) of the offspring.

Main Outcome Measure

The Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Personality Disorders.

Results

Ten types of parenting behavior that were evident during the child-rearing years were associated with elevated offspring risk for PD during adulthood when childhood behavioral or emotional problems and parental psychiatric disorders were controlled statistically. Parental behavior in the home during the child-rearing years was associated with elevated risk for offspring PD at mean ages of 22 and 33 years. Risk for offspring PD at both assessments increased steadily as a function of the number of problematic parenting behaviors that were evident. Low parental affection or nurturing was associated with elevated risk for offspring antisocial (P = .003), avoidant (P = .01), borderline (P = .002), depressive (P = .02), paranoid (P = .002), schizoid (P = .046), and schizotypal (P<.001) PDs. Aversive parental behavior (eg, harsh punishment) was associated with elevated risk for offspring borderline (P = .001), paranoid (P = .004), passive-aggressive (P = .046), and schizotypal (P = .02) PDs.

Conclusions

Parental behavior during the child-rearing years may be associated with risk for offspring PD that endures into adulthood. This risk may not be attributable to offspring behavioral and emotional problems or parental psychiatric disorder, and it may not diminish over time. Low parental nurturing and aversive parental behavior during child rearing may both be associated with elevated risk for offspring PDs.

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