Parenting behavior is also mediated by genetic influence. Individuals prone to aggression, impulsiveness, and antisocial acts are more inclined to create harmful rearing environments characterized by harsh parenting, hostile relationships, and little supervision. Inconsistent harsh discipline, insufficient monitoring, coercive parenting, and child abuse and neglect have long been associated with child-conduct problems and adult criminal behavior.
Parental behaviors directed to one or more siblings may further contribute to the development of deviance. A recent investigation of differential parenting and adjustment revealed that parent-directed behaviors toward each sibling were strongly correlated with individual levels of adolescent problem behavior. Youths with a negatively treated sibling had better outcomes, suggesting that harsh behavior directed toward a fellow sibling may serve a protective function (O'Connor, Hetherington, and Reiss 1998). These findings suggest that children's interpretation of the dynamics of their rearing environment influences the manner in which they respond to future parent attempts to socialize.
Parent behavior may vary greatly for individuals of different ethnic or cultural backgrounds. Physical discipline is known to exert a differential impact on outcomes for European-American children in contrast to their African-American counterparts (Deater-Deckard et al. 1996). A recent report suggests that physical discipline is associated with higher scores of conduct problems only among European-American children. It is hypothesized that physical discipline may be perceived as being more normative and less destructive or deviant by African-American children. Thus, the effectiveness of particular parenting techniques may be mediated by cultural factors and universal statements regarding parenting behavior are ill advised.