Sex Roles

, Volume 74, Issue 11–12, pp 527–542 | Cite as

Parents’ Gender Ideology and Gendered Behavior as Predictors of Children’s Gender-Role Attitudes: A Longitudinal Exploration

Original Article

Abstract

The current study utilized longitudinal, self-report data from a sample of 109 dual-earner, working-class couples and their 6-year-old children living in the northeastern United States. Research questions addressed the roles of parents’ gender ideology and gendered behaviors in predicting children’s development of gender-role attitudes. It was hypothesized that parents’ behavior would be more influential than their ideology in the development of their children’s attitudes about gender roles. Parents responded to questionnaires assessing their global beliefs about women’s and men’s “rightful” roles in society, work preferences for mothers, division of household and childcare tasks, division of paid work hours, and job traditionality. These data were collected at multiple time points across the first year of parenthood, and during a 6-year follow-up. At the final time point, children completed the Sex Roles Learning Inventory (SERLI), an interactive measure that assesses gender-role attitudes. Overall, mothers’ and fathers’ behaviors were better predictors of children’s gender-role attitudes than parents’ ideology. In addition, mothers and fathers played unique roles in their sons’ and daughters’ acquisition of knowledge about gender stereotypes. Findings from the current study fill gaps in the literature on children’s gender development in the family context—particularly by examining the understudied role of fathers in children’s acquisition of knowledge regarding gender stereotypes and through its longitudinal exploration of the relationship between parents’ gender ideologies, parents’ gendered behaviors, and children’s gender-role attitudes.

Keywords

Child development Division of labor Feminism Family socialization Gender Parent-child relations Working class 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Center for Research on FamiliesUniversity of Massachusetts AmherstAmherstUSA

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