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What Parents Learn From Experience: The First Child as a First Draft?



This study sought evidence for the proposition that experiences with earlier-born adolescents will improve parents' interactions with and parenting of later-born adolescents. Participants were mothers, fathers, and both first- and second-born siblings from 392 families participating in a longitudinal study. To collect information on siblings' family experiences, family members were interviewed individually in their homes. During the subsequent 2 to 3 weeks, 7 evening telephone interviews were also conducted, which focused on siblings' daily activities. Findings suggest that when parent-adolescent relationships were measured at the same age for both siblings, parents experienced less conflict with their second-born as compared with their firstborn adolescent offspring and exhibited greater knowledge of their second-born offspring's daily activities as compared with their firstborns' daily experiences. These results are consistent with the notion that parents may learn from their childrearing experiences.

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