Familial Influences on Early Childhood Development


Familial and non-familial influences on children”

The first article: “Gender of siblings, cognitive achievement, and academic performance: Familial and nonfamilial influences on children” is a 1997 publication authored by Jay Teachman. In this research paper, the author is trying to find linkage of familial influence on cognitive and behavioral outcomes of children. He carries out various experiments in an effort to find linkage between these variables. Since cognitive achievement is directly related to academic performance, he goes ahead to report the impact of familial and non-familial influences on academic performance.

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In the first experiment, Teachman (1997) uses twins to obtain data that he uses to estimate the degree of shared influence on the cognitive aspect and also the academic performance. Findings indicate significant influence on cognitive achievement but negligible for academic performance. The author tries to find out if there is any difference when same gender twins are used as opposed to different gender twins. His conclusion is that regression of academic performance on cognitive achievement is not affected by such unmeasured familial characteristics as gender.

In his model Teachman (1997) indicates that there is an assumption that the family background has a symmetry effect (similar effect) on all the siblings in that family. It therefore assumes that a child in a family is indistinguishable from the rest as far as family background is concerned. In effect, some important variations occurring within the family are ignored. One observation he makes is that twins will have more shared familial experiences as compared to siblings of different ages in the family. Those of different ages show more of the effect on younger children that the older ones. Some of the familial influences that impact on the cognitive achievement are divorce, movement to different locations and also loss or gain of jobs.

There is evidence, according to the writer, suggesting that gender of siblings is related to variances in patterns of both interaction within and without the family, and this may lead to differences in contribution of within family and inter-family differences. Gender is however irrelevant in influencing the extent to which variance occurs in the cognitive and academic achievement between families.

The second article: “Sibling resemblance in behavioral and cognitive outcomes: The role of father presence” is authored by Teachman et al (1998).In this examination, the authors try to find out the impact of father presence on behavioral and cognitive achievements of the children. Teachman et al. (1998) findings indicate that more behavioral problems are experienced by children of a single parent. They also have a lower mathematics and reading ability as opposed to those with two parents. As the children of both families grow older, more differences in reading abilities are observed. These authors link the poor mathematical and reading abilities to three factors.

First, families with mother only experience financial difficulties. These in turn culminate to fewer books and parental conflict or harsh parenting practices. Second, these mothers experience less human capital and perhaps less education and education aspirations. Finally, fathers are important in the socialization of children.

The limitation of these assumptions is that they overlook the impact of external interactions with the children. Schools for instance provide children with a range of adults, leveling the ground and counteracting the negative impacts of single parenthood in their homes.

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Early maternal employment and children”

The third article is authored by Han, Waldfogel and Brooks-Gunn. This article is titled “The effects of early maternal employment on later cognitive and behavioral outcomes” and is a 2001 publication. In their experiment, Han, Waldfogel and Brooks-Gunn (2001) sought to find the influence of early maternal employment on the black and white children between the age of 3 and 4. These authors also sought to find out if early maternal employment has an impact on children in the first year of birth. The observation was that for white children, in their first year, they are negatively affected by maternal employment. For white children, this problem persists to ages 7 or even 8 and this did not occur for black children. He insists that analyzing the children differently in terms of ethnicity gave more accurate results.

In a bid to explain this, Han, Waldfogel and Brooks-Gunn (2001) focused on the attachment theory where children whose mothers are not around in critical times of their lives are likely to develop insecure attachments with the mothers. In cases where mothers seek work earlier, it is obvious there is financial strain and therefore the likelihood of buying high quality child care is minimal. In this sense, the researchers set to test the hypothesis that children of mothers who work in the first year of life get poorer cognitive and also poorer behavioral outcomes. A study is done addressing the home environment, child care, parental presence and work status and their effect on the dependent variable of child’s achievement and outcomes of receptive vocabulary.

The results by Han, Waldfogel and Brooks-Gunn (2001) indicate that there is more negative effect when maternal employment begins early, that working part-time or full time has no significant difference, that cognitive outcomes are not significantly influenced by gender of the child whose mother seeks early employment and that children whose mothers are highly skilled or have high cognitive ability are more negatively affected by maternal employment. Children from low income families and whose fathers too are not employed are also negatively impacted by maternal employment.

In conclusion, the researchers find that there is negative effect of early maternal employment with higher magnitude on white children, low income families and single parenthood.

Family structure and children”

The fourth article titled “Family structure and children’s behavioral and cognitive outcomes” is a 2001 publication by Carlson and Corcoran. In their analysis, the researchers sought to find if there is a relationship between the family structure and the children’s cognitive outcomes. This, being an extension of a previous study Carlson and Corcoran (2001) derive some of the data from such aspects as marriage, divorce and fertility. These have a direct influence on the economic status, socialization, stress and maternal psychological well-being. These in turn affect the size of the family and children’s behavioral outcomes. Parental stress is likely to be transferred to children and so they become challenged cognitively and academically. Gender analysis indicates that girls have fewer overall behavioral problems as opposed to boys.

Analysis of Procedures and Conclusions

Familial and non-familial influences”

Teachman (1997) is correct to link academic performance to cognitive achievement as it is to a great extent a major determinant. However, the use of academic performance as a measure of the cognitive achievement of a child in a planet where people are diversely gifted is inadequate. There have been cases of people who have ended up being school drop outs due to academic challenges and some of such people end up being very smart in other areas. For instance, Albert Einstein, the great physicist had been rendered as mentally inadequate and incapable of thriving in the academic arena (Bryson, 2005). Much of the quantum physics used today is his sole contribution and discoveries.

According to Teachman (1997), doing an analysis using twins would effectively represent semblance in the children within a family and would adequately form a case study for the sake of similar circumstances.

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This assumption is deficient due to the wide variance of cultures, ethnic groups and their approach to domestic issues. In an instance where the population is entirely of the same ethnicity, results may vary. This is therefore not entirely applicable globally as a case study that would form reliable outcomes and conclusion. In other words, his conclusions cannot be generalized.

Teachman (1997) also finds no need to distinguish siblings and says that this child in a family is indistinguishable from the rest. This assumption is also not correct as there are many genetic variations within siblings and this has a great effect on the cognitive aspect. These kinds of variations have also been seen to cause different predispositions of the siblings and one seems to be a great academic performer while the other remains challenged.

Early maternal employment has a great effect on the cognitive achievement of the child. The use of racial lines as a study variable can only again happen in an area where the population is diverse to a certain extent. Even though the empirical results may be true, the cause would have to do with cultural practices, indulgence and even economic status of one group in relation to the other. Ethnicity in the multi-ethnic regions is therefore a very volatile factor to consider in a study that can have a global application.

Sibling semblance in behavioral and cognitive outcomes”

Pointing out to the limitation of prior research, the Teachman et al (1998) indicate that studying family type and the significance of presence of father as lacking. Effort has not been made to get an alternative since whichever approach you give to variations on who leads the family; father or mother absence all lead up to family type, which in a certain aspect could be addressed as family structure. The conclusions derived from Cooper, Masi and Vick (2009) are more or less the same as those presented in the study by Teachman et al. (1998).

Family structure and children”

The study of family structure and its effect on children’s cognitive abilities is a repetition of facts since in the study of sibling semblance, the independent factors like father presence among others can be addressed. However, the observations and conclusions hold true because there are noticeable differences among single parent and two parent families. In conclusion, the Carlson and Corcoran (2001) suggest future research to focus more on family processes and parenting. Most of the conclusions in the project are narrowly focused and can be faulted for relying on previous data done by various other bodies in place of first hand study. The findings may therefore fail to address one or two factors that would be of interest to the researcher.

It would be suggested further that focus be given on work distance, with the increased home jobs, parental interactions with their children through telephone and other social media channels and their effect on early childhood development. This is because they may serve to neutralize the effect of maternal work and other variables that may have been focused on by this study.

Today, it should be noted that even though there is significant influence of family on children, the greatest impact on children’s early development comes from relationships with peers and other adults like parents more than with parents. In the modern days, familial influence has been substituted for by media and greater focus should be on this area as it is the current trend.

There is need for researchers to indentify how and why analysis of data and interpretation of the findings are made, and how these help in answering the research questions or in testing the research hypotheses. Further, researchers should make sure that the reader is informed on any unexpected patterns or findings that emerge from the analyzed data. The researcher should also provide evidence from the findings to support assertions and interpretations in their results. A conclusion should therefore focus on addressing the purpose of the study and results on the tested hypotheses and answers to the research questions. After making conclusions, researchers are expected to make recommendations in relation to their research objectives and findings. The researchers in the above discussed studies would have made their studies have more significant by suggesting future areas that researchers should explore to answer their research questions.

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Bryson, B. (2005). A short history of nearly everything: Special illustrated edition. Canada: Doubleday Canada.

Carlson, M. J. and Corcoran, M. E. (2001). Family structure and children’s behavioral and cognitive outcomes. Journal of Marriage and Family, 63(3), 779-792.

Cooper, J. L., Masi, R. and Vick, J. (2009). Social-emotional development in early childhood. NCCP.org. Web.

Han, W., Waldfogel, J., Brooks-Gunn, J. (2001). The effects of early maternal employment on later cognitive and behavioral outcomes. Journal of Marriage and Family, 63(2), 336-354.

Teachman, J. (1997). Gender of siblings, cognitive achievement, and academic performance: Familial and nonfamilial influences on children. Journal of Marriage and Family, 59(2), 363-374.

Teachman, J., Day, R., Paasch, K., Carver, K. and Call, V. (1998). Sibling resemblance in behavioral and cognitive outcomes: The role of father presence. Journal of Marriage and Family, 60(4), 835-848.

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1. StudyCorgi. "Familial Influences on Early Childhood Development." April 9, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/familial-influences-on-early-childhood-development/.


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StudyCorgi. 2021. "Familial Influences on Early Childhood Development." April 9, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/familial-influences-on-early-childhood-development/.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Familial Influences on Early Childhood Development'. 9 April.

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