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Traditional and Nontraditional Mothers' Communication with Their Daughters and Sons

Nancy Weitzman, Beverly Birns and Ronald Friend
Child Development
Vol. 56, No. 4 (Aug., 1985), pp. 894-898
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for Research in Child Development
DOI: 10.2307/1130101
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1130101
Page Count: 5
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Traditional and Nontraditional Mothers' Communication with Their Daughters and Sons
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Abstract

The purpose of this study is to determine whether mothers communicate differently with their daughters and sons, and whether maternal attitudes toward sex roles affect their behavior. Mothers who express contrasting attitudes toward sex roles were classified as "traditional" or "nontraditional" on the basis of their responses to Spence and Helmreich's Attitudes toward Women Scale. Maternal communication with 2½-3½-year-old children was analyzed for those characteristics of language shown to be instrumental in children's cognitive development and that could contribute to the socialization of sex-role stereotypes. These language variables were evaluated during story reading, sorting, and free-play tasks that included both stereotypically feminine and stereotypically masculine content. The results revealed significant differences between mothers' speech to daughters and sons. Males consistently received more verbal stimulation of the type thought to facilitate cognitive development. Differential treatment of girls and boys was lessened but not eliminated by nontraditional mothers.

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