Low Parental Warmth and Antisocial Behavior

Some have reasoned that low warmth or rejection are likely to engender antisocial behavior. Murray and Farrington (2010) point out that “cold parental attitude” is one of the most important risk factors predicting conduct disorders in children. Akse et al. show that parental rejection can be associated with negative evaluations of the future that make depression more likely (Akse, Hale, Engels, Raaijmakers, & Meeus, 2004). Depression and aggression are highly comorbid in adolescence. Parental rejection increases the likelihood of adolescents learning antisocial behavior (Akse et al., 2004) and may have a negative impact on selfesteem, which in turn increases the chances that the child will be rejected by peers (Barnow, Lucht, & Freyberger, 2005). Parental negativity is a “major daily stressor for children” (Deater-Deckard, 1996, p. 408).

Authors have proposed numerous ways that cold parenting may contaminate the relations a child will have with other people. Comments by Deater-Deckard (1996) and others, about the reciprocal nature of social interactions in very young children, indicate that children are likely to display some mimicry of warmth or negativity in their future associations with other people. Brendgen, Vitaro, Tremblay, and Wanner (2002) postulated that parental rejection influences delinquency by instilling sensitivity to rejection by others, such as peers, and they found some support for this hypothesis in an empirical test. Weisfeld and Coleman (2005) venture that high levels of delinquency in the United States may be related to feelings of neglect and rejection experienced by adolescents in a culture where there is little contact with kin and extended families. In more traditional cultures, parents are more nurturant and attentive to children. Contact time between parents and children in the United States even in intact families, is low.

 
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