Family rearing antecedents of pubertal timing

Jay Belsky, Laurence D. Steinberg, Renate M. Houts, Sarah L. Friedman, Ganie Dehart, Elizabeth Cauffman, Glenn I. Roisman, Bonnie L. Halpern-Felsher, Elisabeth Susman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

221 Scopus citations


Two general evolutionary hypotheses were tested on 756 White children (397 girls) studied longitudinally: (1) rearing experiences would predict pubertal timing; and (2) children would prove differentially susceptible to rearing. Analysis of pubertal measurements, including some based on repeated physical assessments, showed that mothering and fathering, earlier and later in childhood, predicted pubertal development, but only for girls, with negative parenting appearing most influential; maternal harsh control predicted earlier menarche. Rearing effects varied by infant negative emotionality, proving stronger (and opposite) for girls who in infancy were lower rather than higher in negativity. Maternal menarche, controlled in all analyses, was a stronger predictor than rearing. Findings are discussed in terms of theory development, genetic and nutritional influences, and sample restrictions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1302-1321
Number of pages20
JournalChild development
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2007
Externally publishedYes


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