One hundred and twenty families and their 4-year-old children participated in a study on family stories. The participants were primarily White (91%), with the remainder Black (4%), Hispanic (2%), and Asian (2%). The parents were primarily middle class and upper class, with approximately 5% identifying themselves as from a lower socioeconomic background. Parents were asked to tell their son or daughter stories about when the parent was growing up. All parents completed measures of child behavior and a subset of parents completed the Bem Sex Role inventory. Stories were coded for the strength of affiliation, achievement, and autonomy themes. No gender differences were found for parents or child in the strength of affiliation themes. Fathers told stories with stronger autonomy themes than did mothers, and sons were more likely to hear stories with themes of autonomy than were daughters. An interaction was found between gender type of parent and gender of child for strength of achievement theme. Traditional gender-typed parents told stories with stronger achievement themes to their sons, and nontraditional gender-typed parents told stories with stronger achievement themes to their daughters. Exploratory analyses were conducted examining the relations among story theme, parent gender type, and child behavior. Higher levels of externalizing behaviors were found in boys whose fathers endorsed strong masculine attitudes, but told stories with weak achievement themes. Higher levels of internalizing behaviors were found in girls whose mothers told stories with strong affiliation themes, but endorsed weak feminine attitudes. Family stories are proposed to be one aspect of socialization that includes an interaction between child and parent characteristics.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Gender Studies
- Social Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology