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03-04-2021 | Empirical Research

Family Experiences and Parent Personality as Antecedents of Pubertal Timing in Girls and Boys

Journal of Youth and Adolescence
Lisabeth F. DiLalla, Holly T. Pham, Robin P. Corley, Sally Wadsworth, Sheri A. Berenbaum
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Pubertal timing may be influenced by typical variations in early family environmental events, but questions remain concerning the roles of specific parenting factors, developmental age of exposure to events, moderation by child temperament, and comparability of effects for girls and boys. This study focused on these questions utilizing longitudinal data from 733 same-sex twins (45% girls) in the U.S.; family context was measured at ages 1–3, 4–5, and 6–7 years and pubertal status was assessed annually via self-report at ages 9–15, enabling estimates of pubertal timing. Home environment at ages 4–5 years predicted pubertal timing better than home environment at other ages for both girls and boys, but parent personality was more predictive than home experiences (e.g., divorce, parental harshness, family conflict). Thus, effects of family environment must be considered within the context of parent characteristics, encouraging caution in implicating early environmental experiences as direct influences on early pubertal timing.

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