Watching your husband interact with your son and daughter, you may have suspected it. But now, there is scientific proof that suggests men act differently when parenting based on gender. A new study reports that men tend to use more complex language when conversing with their daughters than with their sons.
Time reports about the study published in the journal Behavioral Neuroscience that looked at the way dads interact with their young offspring based on gender. A group of 52 fathers of 3 year old sons and daughters were compared to see how they spoke and interacted with their children. Researchers also performed brain scans on the fathers to see how they reacted to photographs of their child’s various expressions.
After studying conversations dads had with their sons and daughters, scientists found that dads were much more likely to have deeper more complex discussions with daughters, using analytical words like “much” and “better” as well as talking about emotions like sadness. The types of words dads tend to use with their sons seemed to be more related to physical play and competition like “win” and “top”, dads were also much more likely to rough house with their sons than with their daughters.
Brain scans of the dads revealed that they acted most strongly when seeing photos of their daughters with a happy expression on their face and dads of sons had their strongest reactions to a son’s neutral expression. It is unclear why the brain scans revealed these particular reactions, but one possible reason researchers have come up with is the way dads tend to interact with their sons in a more aggressive and physical way.
Though scientists need to do more research to discover the reason why dads behave differently with sons and daughters, researchers feel that if men are aware of the differences they may take steps to treat both sons and daughters more equally. Lead author of the study, Jennifer Mascaro, explains that most parents have the best of intentions when interacting with their children and should take this opportunity to learn new ways to communicate. Mascaro says, “All parents are trying to do the best they can to prepare their kids for the world. Just being aware of the biases we have by virtue of being part of our culture may help us to do a little better in preparing our kids in less biased ways.”
What do you think of the new research that suggests dads treat kids differently based on their gender?
Have you noticed any differences in the way your husband interacts with the kids?
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