The Contribution of Maternal and Paternal Self-Control to Child and Adolescent Self-Control: a Latent Class Analysis of Intergenerational Transmission

  • Michelle A. BolgerEmail author
  • Ryan Charles Meldrum
  • J. C. Barnes



Recent research provides evidence of intergenerational continuity in self-control. This body of research, however, can be advanced in several ways to enhance our understanding of this association.


We add to this literature by examining whether maternal and paternal self-control, assessed during a child’s infancy, is associated with latent classes of child self-control based on assessments from eight waves of data spanning age 4 to age 15. Supplementary analyses were also performed using ordinary least squares regression to examine individual child self-control at each of the eight waves.


The results indicate that higher maternal and paternal self-control is associated with latent class membership characterizing higher child self-control. Moreover, maternal and paternal self-control were found to be equally consequential for differentiating between a low self-control relative to a moderate self-control class, whereas maternal self-control was a slightly stronger predictor than paternal self-control for differentiating a low self-control relative to a high self-control class. Supplementary OLS models revealed that both maternal and paternal self-control were statistically significant predictors of child self-control at 54 months of age and provided relatively equal contributions. But, as the child ages, the influence of paternal self-control appears to decrease as compared to maternal self-control.


This study offers evidence that both maternal and paternal self-control are important for understanding the intergenerational continuity of self-control, but additional research with larger and more diverse samples is needed to better understand the relative importance of mothers and fathers for this continuity.


Self-control Maternal self-control Paternal self-control Intergenerational Latent class analysis SECCYD 



The Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (SECCYD) was conducted by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Early Child Care Research Network, supported by NICHD through a cooperative agreement that calls for scientific collaboration between the grantees and the NICHD staff. The content of this manuscript is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development or the National Institutes of Health. (United States Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development: Phases I–IV, 1991–2008 [United States] [Computer files]. ICPSR21940-v1; ICPSR21941-v1; ICPSR21942-v1; ICPSR22361- v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor]).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018
corrected publication June/2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michelle A. Bolger
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ryan Charles Meldrum
    • 2
  • J. C. Barnes
    • 3
  1. 1.Social Sciences: Criminal JusticeDeSales UniversityCenter ValleyUSA
  2. 2.Department of Criminology and Criminal JusticeFlorida International UniversityMiamiUSA
  3. 3.School of Criminal JusticeUniversity of CincinnatiCincinnatiUSA

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