New research indicates that harsh parenting affects children’s health into the adult years. Further, even when one kind, caring parent is present, the effects of the harsh parenting are not counteracted.
“Harshness, as we measured it, is always bad for kids. But it is particularly bad if the adolescent perceives high levels of warmth and support from the other parent,” said study lead author Thomas Schofield.
The definition of harshness for the research was parenting that is angry, antisocial, and hostile.
Until now, “we did not know if parenting that was harsh — while not falling into the category of abuse — could predict physical health,” continued Schofield, an assistant professor of human development and family studies at Iowa State University.
Researchers examined the results of a study of 451 seventh grade students in Iowa in 1989. Families were videotaped and studied. Children’s health was tracked through age 20. All participants were English speaking white children.