Daughters vs Dads: The Strange Relationship Surprises Researchers

Scientists found a surprising relationships between fathers and their daughters compared to fathers and their sons. Dads are more responsive to daughters thean their toddler sons. Another striking behavioral trait found is their different language style.

A report by the American Psychological Association based on a study of 52 fathers of young children, with 30 being fathers of girls and 22 fathers to boys in the Atlanta area. A small computer-based recording device was attached to them on one weekday and one weekend day, recording their conversation. It randomly turned on for 50 seconds every 9 minutes to record any sound during the 48-hour period.

The study found fathers with toddler daughters are more attentive and responsive. They sang more often to their daughters and spoke more openly about emotions, including sadness, said the study published in the American Psychological Association’s journal Behavioral Neuroscience.

Contrarily, fathers of sons used rough-and-tumble play with achievement-related language such as proud, win and on top of the world. Father of daughters used more analytical language such as all, below and much, rather academic oriented conversation.

“If the child cries out or asks for Dad, fathers of daughters responded to that more than did fathers of sons,” said lead researcher Jennifer Mascaro of Emory University. “We should be aware of how unconscious notions of gender can play into the way we treat even very young children.”

However, the research was conducted in the United States, and as such it could not draw any conclusions about fathers in other cultures with different societal norms for fathers.

If fathers are more present and attentive to daughters and open to expressing emotions, that may help girls develop more empathy than boys, so fathers of sons could take the same approach as fathers of daughters, Mascaro said.

Previous research has found that restricted emotions in adult men is linked to depression, decreased social intimacy, marital dissatisfaction and a lower likelihood of seeking mental health treatment.

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