Infants do not and cannot grow up as solitary individuals; parenting constitutes the initial and all-encompassing ecology of infant development. Mothers and fathers guide the development of their infants by many direct and indirect means. Biological parents contribute to the genetic makeup of their infants. All parents shape their infants' experiences. Parents also influence their infants by virtue of each partner's influence on the other and their associations with larger social networks. Parents influence infant development both by their beliefs and by their behaviors. In this respect, similarities as well as differences in mothers' and fathers' attitudes and actions affect the nature and course of infant development, and they do so according to different mechanisms and following different models.
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