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Concept: Parent


Offspring survival can often depend on successful communication with parents about their state of need. Theory suggests that offspring will be less likely to honestly signal their need when they experience greater competition from either a greater number of nestmates or less-related nestmates. We found support for this hypothesis with a comparative analysis, examining data from across 60 species of birds. We found that offspring are less honest about their level of need when (i) they face competition from current siblings; (ii) their parents are likely to breed again, and so they are in competition with future siblings; and (iii) parental divorce or death means that they are likely to be less related to future siblings. More generally, these patterns highlight the sensitivity of communication systems to conflict between signaler and receiver while also suggesting that when there is little conflict, natural selection favors the honest.

Concepts: Family, Natural selection, Parent, Signal, Sibling, Offspring, Parental investment, Divorce


BACKGROUND: Successful cancer prevention policies and programming for youth must be based on a solid understanding of youth’s conceptualization of cancer and cancer prevention. Accordingly, a qualitative study examining youth’s perspectives of cancer and its prevention was undertaken. Not surprisingly, smoking (i.e., tobacco cigarette smoking) was one of the dominant lines of discourse in the youth’s narratives. This paper reports findings of how youth conceptualize smoking with attention to their perspectives on parental and family-related smoking issues and experiences. METHODS: Seventy-five Canadian youth ranging in age from 11–19 years participated in the study. Six of the 75 youth had a history of smoking and 29 had parents with a history of smoking. Youth were involved in traditional ethnographic methods of interviewing and photovoice. Data analysis involved multiple levels of analysis congruent with ethnography. RESULTS: Youth’s perspectives of parents and other family members' cigarette smoking around them was salient as represented by the theme: It’s not fair. Youth struggled to make sense of why parents would smoke around their children and perceived their smoking as an unjust act. The theme was supported by four subthemes: 1) parenting the parent about the dangers of smoking; 2) the good/bad parent; 3) distancing family relationships; and 4) the prisoner. Instead of being talked to about smoking it was more common for youth to share stories of talking to their parents about the dangers of smoking. Parents who did not smoke were seen by youth as the good parent, as opposed to the bad parent who smoked. Smoking was an agent that altered relationships with parents and other family members. Youth who lived in homes where they were exposed to cigarette smoke felt like a trapped prisoner. CONCLUSIONS: Further research is needed to investigate youth’s perceptions about parental cigarette smoking as well as possible linkages between youth exposed to second hand smoke in their home environment and emotional and lifestyle-related health difficulties. Results emphasize the relational impact of smoking when developing anti-tobacco and cancer prevention campaigns. Recognizing the potential toll that second-hand smoke can have on youth’s emotional well-being, health care professionals are encouraged to give youth positive messages in coping with their parents' smoking behaviour.

Concepts: Family, Lung cancer, Smoking, Tobacco, Tobacco smoking, Passive smoking, Cigarette, Parent


The propensity for a grizzly bear to develop conflict behaviours might be a result of social learning between mothers and cubs, genetic inheritance, or both learning and inheritance. Using non-invasive genetic sampling, we collected grizzly bear hair samples during 2011-2014 across southwestern Alberta, Canada. We targeted private agricultural lands for hair samples at grizzly bear incident sites, defining an incident as an occurrence in which the grizzly bear caused property damage, obtained anthropogenic food, or killed or attempted to kill livestock or pets. We genotyped 213 unique grizzly bears (118 M, 95 F) at 24 microsatellite loci, plus the amelogenin marker for sex. We used the program COLONY to assign parentage. We evaluated 76 mother-offspring relationships and 119 father-offspring relationships. We compared the frequency of problem and non-problem offspring from problem and non-problem parents, excluding dependent offspring from our analysis. Our results support the social learning hypothesis, but not the genetic inheritance hypothesis. Offspring of problem mothers are more likely to be involved in conflict behaviours, while offspring from non-problem mothers are not likely to be involved in incidents or human-bear conflicts themselves (Barnard’s test, p = 0.05, 62.5% of offspring from problem mothers were problem bears). There was no evidence that offspring are more likely to be involved in conflict behaviour if their fathers had been problem bears (Barnard’s test, p = 0.92, 29.6% of offspring from problem fathers were problem bears). For the mother-offspring relationships evaluated, 30.3% of offspring were identified as problem bears independent of their mother’s conflict status. Similarly, 28.6% of offspring were identified as problem bears independent of their father’s conflict status. Proactive mitigation to prevent female bears from becoming problem individuals likely will help prevent the perpetuation of conflicts through social learning.

Concepts: Psychology, Genetics, Parent, Mother, Montana, Bears, Nature versus nurture, Grizzly Bear


BACKGROUND: Numerous studies have documented a profound reduction in alcohol use among pregnant women, whereas research on expectant fathers has been scarce. The aim of this study was to measure changes in alcohol consumption from before pregnancy to 17 weeks in gestation for mothers and fathers, differentiating between parents with and without any previous children, and to measure how level and change in alcohol consumption into early pregnancy was associated with relationship satisfaction. METHODS: The data collection was conducted as part of the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study (MoBa) at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. This cohort now includes 108 000 children, 90 700 mothers and 71 500 fathers recruited from 1999 to 2008. The present study comprises 82 362 couples. Alcohol consumption was assessed using a questionnaire including items about usual drinking frequency, quantities, and number of occasions with heavy episodic drinking (HED). Relationship satisfaction was measured by five items scored on a Likert agreement scale. RESULTS: The findings indicate that both mothers and fathers reduce their drinking significantly during pregnancy. Reduction was apparent for all three measures of alcohol consumption. First-time fathers reduced their alcohol consumption more than experienced fathers, from initially higher levels. The gap between the fathers and their pregnant partner was greater for first-time parents compared to parents with previous children. Drinking pre-pregnancy and relationship satisfaction during pregnancy were weakly related within each partner, whereas no association across partners was observed. CONCLUSIONS: Both expectant mothers and fathers changed their alcohol consumption patterns when expecting a child. Almost all mothers stopped drinking, whereas fathers reduced their drinking to a considerable degree. Relationship satisfaction was only slightly related to their drinking patterns. The findings may have important policy implications, mainly with regard to developing alcohol preventive strategies.

Concepts: Family, Alcohol, Pregnancy, Childbirth, Embryo, Uterus, Parent, Mother


OBJECTIVE: This study examined the interaction between parental limit setting of sedentary behaviors and health factors (weight status, physical activity [PA], fruit and vegetable [FV] intake) on standardized body mass index (zBMI) in African American adolescents. METHODS: Data were from 67 parent-adolescent dyads. Parental limit setting, PA and FV intake were assessed via self-report, and objective height and weight measurements were collected. RESULTS: Regressions examined the interaction between parental limit setting and BMI, PA, FV intake on adolescent zBMI. The model for parent BMI and FV intake accounted for 31% of the variance in adolescent zBMI. A significant interaction for parent BMI by limit setting showed that as parental BMI increased, higher (vs. lower) limit setting was associated with lower adolescent zBMI. Higher parent FV consumption was associated with lower adolescent zBMI. CONCLUSION: Future interventions should integrate parent limit setting and target parent fruit and vegetable intake for obesity prevention in underserved adolescents.

Concepts: Nutrition, Obesity, Overweight, Mass, Parent, Body mass index, Parenting, Parenting styles


The link between adept parental monitoring (PM) and later positive behavioral and health outcomes already has motivated intervention trials, but questions remain about which specific facets and mechanisms of PM make a difference. Our current research questions concern fundamental male-female differences in PM facets as manifest in a US cohort, re-sampled each year at age 12 through 17¬†years during an interval from 2004 to 2009. We hypothesized emergence, by mid-adolescence, of a specific male-female difference in a “limit time with friends” (LTF) facet of adept PM, with overall PM levels held constant. The data, arranged using a “mutoscope” approach, are from six successive nationally representative independent cross-sectional sample surveys of the cohort, with each adolescent measured only once, via a multi-item PM module nested within the larger survey. Estimates and tests of male-female differences are from a “multiple indicators, multiple causes” latent structure model appropriate for complex survey data. In evidence consistent with the advance hypothesis and with PM level held constant via the model, the LTF facet generally was more relaxed for boys as compared to girls, in a difference that emerged by mid-adolescence, possibly due to greater LTF constraints for girls at mid-adolescence. This research adds to the knowledge base about male-female similarities and differences in facets of PM. As a specific PM facet, LTF might function as a mechanism suitable for deliberate intervention and as a possible specific target in “micro-trials” of new prevention research. We acknowledge limitations such as omitted variables, including social media effects, not measured in this investigation’s national surveys, but of potential importance in future research on peer influence as might have more distal parenting determinants.

Concepts: Scientific method, Parent, Difference, Das Model, Exploratory research


We document and interpret differences in life evaluation and in hedonic experience between those who live with children and those who do not; most previous literature has concluded that those with children have worse lives. For a sample of 1.8 million Americans of all ages, and without controls for other circumstances, we find little difference in subjective wellbeing between people with and without children. Among those most likely to be parents, life evaluation and all hedonic experiences except stress are markedly better among those living with a child. However, within this group, people who live with children are more likely to be married, richer, better educated, more religious, and healthier, all of which have well-documented positive associations with evaluative and hedonic wellbeing. With statistical controls for these background factors, the presence of a child has a small negative association with life evaluation, although it is associated with more of both positive and negative hedonics. These patterns are replicated in the English-speaking countries of the world, but not in other regions. We argue that the causal effect of children on parental wellbeing, which is the target for most of the literature, is not well defined. Instead, we interpret our rich-country results within a theory of children and wellbeing in which adults sort into parenthood according to their preferences. In poor, high-fertility countries, we find evidence that at least some people have children even when it diminishes their personal wellbeing.

Concepts: Causality, Evaluation, Parent, Evaluation methods, Addition, Child, Differences, The Target


Despite the well-documented benefits afforded the children of invested fathers in modern Western societies, some fathers choose not to invest in their children. Why do some men make this choice? Life History Theory offers an explanation for variation in parental investment by positing a trade-off between mating and parenting effort, which may explain some of the observed variance in human fathers' parenting behavior. We tested this hypothesis by measuring aspects of reproductive biology related to mating effort, as well as paternal nurturing behavior and the brain activity related to it. Both plasma testosterone levels and testes volume were independently inversely correlated with paternal caregiving. In response to viewing pictures of one’s own child, activity in the ventral tegmental area-a key component of the mesolimbic dopamine reward and motivation system-predicted paternal caregiving and was negatively related to testes volume. Our results suggest that the biology of human males reflects a trade-off between mating effort and parenting effort, as indexed by testicular size and nurturing-related brain function, respectively.

Concepts: Scientific method, Reproduction, Parent, Sex, Testicle, Reproductive system, Puberty, Scrotum


When parents select similar sounding names for their children, do they set themselves up for more speech errors in the future? Questionnaire data from 334 respondents suggest that they do. Respondents whose names shared initial or final sounds with a sibling’s reported that their parents accidentally called them by the sibling’s name more often than those without such name overlap. Having a sibling of the same gender, similar appearance, or similar age was also associated with more frequent name substitutions. Almost all other name substitutions by parents involved other family members and over 5% of respondents reported a parent substituting the name of a pet, which suggests a strong role for social and situational cues in retrieving personal names for direct address. To the extent that retrieval cues are shared with other people or animals, other names become available and may substitute for the intended name, particularly when names sound similar.

Concepts: Family, Future, Parent, Sound, Substitute good, Sibling, Information retrieval


The parents' phenotype, or the environment they create for their young, can have long-lasting effects on their offspring, with profound evolutionary consequences. Yet virtually no work has considered how such parental effects might change the adaptive value of behavioural traits expressed by offspring upon reaching adulthood. To address this problem, we combined experiments on burying beetles (Nicrophorus vespilloides) with theoretical modelling, and focussed on one adult behavioural trait in particular: the supply of parental care. We manipulated the early life environment and measured the fitness payoffs associated with the supply of parental care when larvae reached maturity. We found that (1) adults that received low levels of care as larvae were less successful at raising larger broods, and suffered greater mortality as a result: they were low quality parents. Furthermore (2) high quality males that raised offspring with low quality females subsequently suffered greater mortality than brothers of equivalent quality, which reared larvae with higher quality females. Our analyses identify three general ways in which parental effects can change the adaptive value of an adult behavioural trait: by influencing the associated fitness benefits and costs; by consequently changing the evolutionary outcome of social interactions; and by modifying the evolutionarily stable expression of behavioural traits that are themselves parental effects.

Concepts: Gene, Natural selection, Evolution, Biology, Parent, Beetle, Adult, Burying beetle