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Dad, There's a Reason Why It's Hard to Say No to Your Little GirlSorry, dads, you may have no immunity from your daughter's charm.by Rachel Perez .
Fathers have always had this unique bond with their daughters, and now there may be a scientific reason behind it. According to a new study published in the journal Behavioral Sciences a dad's brain could be wired to be more attentive and responsive to their daughter's needs than that of their son's.
Brain scans and recordings of the parents’ daily interactions with their kids show that Fathers with toddler daughters are more attentive and responsive to those daughters’ needs than fathers with toddler sons are to the needs of those sons.
"When a child cried out or asked for Dad, fathers of daughters responded to that more than did fathers of sons," said Jennifer Mascaro, lead researcher, and assistant professor of Family and Preventative Medicine at the Emory School of Medicine, in a press release by the American Psychological Association (APA).
Researchers from Emory University and the University of Arizona also found that dads engaged differently with their daughters and sons. Dads sang more to their toddler daughters and talked about their feelings (e.g., "cry," "tears," and "lonely"). Those with sons, on the other hand, engaged in more rough-and-tumble play and used more achievement-related language (e.g., "best," "win," "super," and "top").
Study lead author Jame K. Rilling stresses, however, that "gender-biased paternal behavior need not imply ill intentions on the part of fathers." There is no intentional bias on the part of the father. The differences in the way dads engaged with daughter or son could be involuntary but may reflect their unconscious intention of making an effort to hone a child's behavior in line with social expectations.
Anyone with a daughter here may not find this news surprising. But it's the first real-world (not conducted in a lab) study to look into how fathers respond to their children. According APA, the researchers 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.
Though its scope is small, fathers should use the research as a reminder. Mascaro said, "The fact that fathers may actually be less attentive to the emotional needs of boys, perhaps despite their best intentions, is important to recognize."
She adds, “We should be aware of how unconscious notions of gender can play into the way we treat even very young children.”ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
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