Fathers who were spanked as children are less likely to spank their own children than mothers who were spanked while young, according to a US study.
Researchers from Ohio State University set out to see if 1990s parents followed the practices of their own mothers but found parents today were showing a lot more affection to their children, reading to them more and spanking them less.
"We were surprised that mothers seem to learn a lot about the parenting role from their own mothers, but fathers don't follow their mothers as much," said researcher Jonathan Vespa in a statement.
The study of 1,133 young adult parents found significant generational changes in parenting practices.
Overall, there was a large generational shift in which the second generation of parents was much less likely to spank than their own parents.
Second generation mothers who were spanked at least once a week were found to be nearly half as more likely to spank their own children compared to mothers who weren't spanked.
Fathers spanked as children were less likely to spank their own children.
The study found only 28 percent of the second generation of fathers reported spanking their children compared to 43 percent of mothers.
"A little spanking of boys seems to deter (fathers) from spanking their own children later in life," said Vespa.
"The evidence suggests that mothers are more the disciplinarians in the family than fathers are today."
In general, the amount of affection that parents show their children has increased significantly over the generations.
Sixty percent of fathers and 73 percent of mothers in the second generation reported showing their children physical affection and praising them within the last week compared to only 40 percent of their parents openly showing affection weekly.
Reading to children had also increased markedly. Nearly three times more mothers in the second generation reported reading to their children daily compared to their own parents.