Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 21, Issue 5, pp 469–479 | Cite as

Do sex-linked behaviors in children influence relationships with their parents?

  • N. McConaghy
  • D. Silove


When relationships are found between parents' and children's behaviors it is usually assumed the parents' behaviors produced those of the children. Forty-four young adult males and 36 young adult females reported the degree to which they showed various sex-linked behaviors and feelings of same versus opposite sex identity in childhood, and adolescence, and currently. These behaviors accounted for up to 57% of the variance of measures of the quality of relationships with parents. In men, opposite-sex-linked behaviors and identity correlated most strongly with current negative parental and particularly paternal relationships. They also correlated strongly with negative paternal relationships in childhood. Some sex-linked behaviors and sex identity items in men correlated positively with maternal overprotection in childhood and adolescence. Correlations between women's sex-linked behaviors and sexual identity items and their parental relationships were weaker but more consistently negative. As in men, opposite-sex-linked behaviors and identity in women correlated most strongly with current negative paternal relationships. The pattern of the associations and the finding that many opposite-sex-linked behaviors in subjects' childhood correlated most strongly with negative parental relationships in early adult life suggest that the parents' feelings could be partly a response to, rather than totally causal of, the subjects' sex-linked behaviors.

Key words

sex-linked behaviors sissiness tomboyism parental relations prenatal hormones 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • N. McConaghy
    • 1
  • D. Silove
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryPrince of Wales HospitalRandwickAustralia

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