The Dunedin Study - DMHDRU

The Parenting Study

Overview of the Study

The Parenting Study started in 1994 and concluded in 2018.

Few would question the importance of good parenting for children’s growth and development. Parenting is also a key determinant of long-term intergenerational relationships and family cohesiveness. This study focused on members of the Dunedin Study and their first-born 3-year-old children. The aim was to identify the social and family determinants of parenting style, and to study continuities and discontinuities in parenting from the parenting experienced by the Study members themselves.

One of the reasons the Parenting Study was developed was to augment the extensive information already collected on the Dunedin Study members and their families/whanau. We already knew a lot about how the Dunedin Study members were parented, and we aimed to add to that with about how they choose to parent their own children.

Our research questions included:

Are experiences of being parented related to subsequent parenting in adulthood?

Are childrearing experiences at specific developmental ages (early and middle childhood and early adolescence) predictive of adult parenting behaviour?

Can a supportive partner relationship ameliorate the effects of adverse childhood parenting on adult parenting behaviours?

Are the parenting behaviours of women and men differently affected by the childrearing they experienced in their family of origin?

Does the intergenerational transmission vary as a function of when “children” themselves become parents—their age and thus psychological maturity when they have children?

How was the Parenting Study conducted?

When a Dunedin Study member’s eldest child was about to turn three, a Parenting Study Researcher contacted the Study member to invite them to participate in the study. If the Study member agreed to take part, the researcher visited the Study member and their pre-schooler at home at a convenient time. The visit involved an interview about parenting and the child, a questionnaire, and an opportunity for the Study member and child to play and interact with numerous toys provided by the researcher. This play sequence was videoed by the researcher and a copy was offered to the Study member.

If you would like to know more about the Parenting Study, please contact the Manager, Judith Sligo, by email