Maternal vs. Paternal Warmth and Rejection

Some have wondered whether paternal warmth matters to the same extent as maternal warmth and have reported disparate findings related to delinquent behavior. For example, both maternal and paternal “caring” were negatively associated with problem adolescent behaviors in a study of Iowan adoptees, but the correlations were only significant for maternal caring (Riggins-Caspers & Cadoret, 2001). In a Dutch study, paternal rejection was significantly associated with boys’ externalizing behavior and maternal rej ection was associated with girls’ externalizing (Roelofs et al., 2006).

We examined the possibility that the effects of warmth and rejection from fathers may differ from the effects of warmth and rejection from mothers. There were 7 studies of violence that used a measure of maternal warmth and 5 studies that examined the association between paternal warmth and violence. In both cases a high proportion had a PoC in the expected direction (6/6 for maternal warmth; 4/5 for paternal warmth), but statistically significant associations were scarce. This emergent evidence suggests that the effect of paternal warmth does not differ dramatically from that of maternal warmth, but also that measures of maternal or paternal warmth are more consistently associated with violence than a combined measure of parental warmth. Only one study addressed paternal rejection and violence so we cannot make a comparison of findings on maternal and paternal rejection.

 
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