Scientists have just stumbled upon a surprising discovery about the relationships between fathers and their daughters.
A stunning new report out of the American Psychological Association is making a remarkable claim about dads and their relationships with their daughters. As it turns out, fathers were much more attentive and responsive to the needs of toddler daughters than they were with toddler sons.
Interestingly, fathers of young boys tended to favor horseplay and used achievement-based language, compared to the more analytical language they used for the daughters. If the child asked for dad, fathers of daughters were more reseponsive than fathers of sons.
The study was based on data from 52 fathers of young children, with 30 being fathers of girls and 22 to boys. They clipped a small handheld computers to their belts and wore it on one weekday and one weekend day, with the device randomly turning on every now and then to record sound during that period.
“Fathers of toddlers also sang more often to their daughters and spoke more openly about emotions, including sadness, possibly because they are more accepting of girls’ feelings than boys’,” according to an APA statement. “Fathers of sons engaged in more rough-and-tumble play and used more achievement-related language (e.g., words such as proud, win and top) when talking to their sons. Fathers of daughters used more analytical language (e.g., words such as all, below and much), which has been linked to future academic success.”
Lead researcher Dr. Jennifer Mascaro of Emory University said that fathers were just more responsive in general toward their daughters than they were toward sons.
“We should be aware of how unconscious notions of gender can play into the way we treat even very young children,” she said in the statement.
The purpose of the study was to determine the “varying ways in which fathers treat sons or daughters may be influenced by different brain responses to male or female children,” the statement noted. However, it was tough to tell from the study whether the behavior had to do with genetics or evolution, or if fathers were simply conforming to societal norms when it came to gender.
Scientists say they used an innovative method of gathering the data to make it more representative of real life.
“Studies about parenting often are biased in the lab because participants give answers that they think are expected of them or are not aware of their own behavior,” the statement said. “The researchers, from Emory University and the University of Arizona, avoided that problem by taking their study out of the lab and into the real world. The study used data from 52 fathers of toddlers (30 girls, 22 boys) in the Atlanta area who agreed to clip a small handheld computer onto their belts and wear it for one weekday and one weekend day. The device randomly turned on for 50 seconds every nine minutes to record any sound during the 48-hour period. Some of the fathers in the study had more than one child, but the study focused only on their interactions with one son or daughter.”