Sex Roles

, Volume 28, Issue 11, pp 679-691

First online:

Gender role socialization in toy play situations: Mothers and fathers with their sons and daughters

  • Tracey IdleAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Wilfrid Laurier University
  • , Eileen WoodAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Wilfrid Laurier University
  • , Serge DesmaraisAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Wilfrid Laurier University

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This study examined the interaction within and between 20 intact families. As in past research, when parents were separated and not influenced by their child (i.e., completing a toy desirability scale), traditional findings were supported; neutral toys are not specific to the gender of the child while feminine toys were preferred for girls and masculine toys were preferred for boys. However, when parents were actively engaged in play with their child this traditional pattern was not supported. In general, parents spent the least amount of time with feminine toys. Children eagerly accepted most of the toys presented by their parents and their enthusiasm was equal for the toys in all three categories. This research suggests a change in parents' perceptions of what is acceptable gender-typing behavior.