From the dad bod and dad jokes to beloved TV dads like Phil Dunphy and Danny Tanner, we’ve got nothing but love for the dude who made growing up way, way easier. But fatherhood has changed over the years — hello, stay-at-home dads! — and that means our understanding of father-kid relationships has shifted too. A new study explores how dads parent their tiny tots, and how those parenting techniques might be affected by the gender of their child.
Researchers from Emory University conducted the study, using an “electronic activated recorder” (EAR) to record interactions between 52 dads and their children in the Atlanta area. The researchers discovered that dads were more attentive to their daughters and spent significantly more time singing or whistling with them, while the dads with sons spent more time engaging in “rough and tumble” play.
Interestingly, the researchers also examined the words that dads used around their children, discovering a significant difference in the conversations between sons and daughters. According to these researchers, dads were more likely to talk about sadness with their daughters, using words like “cry,” “tears,” and “lonely.” Fathers were also more likely to reference their daughter’s body, with words like “belly,” “foot,” and “tummy.” If they were talking to their sons, they were more likely to use achievement words, like “win,” “proud,” and “top.”
The study, published in Behavioral Neuroscience, calls attention to parenting styles and serves as an unfortunate reminder that gender bias isn’t exclusively an academic issue, or even a professional one. With more research, hopefully scientists will be able to come up with parenting techniques to combat these biases and support both boys and girls equally.
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