Parental Messages About Gender

Very early on in children’s lives, they are exposed to countless messages regarding gender-based societal expectations. This can include both direct and indirect messages about acceptable and unacceptable behaviors for boys and girls, stereotypes around levels of emotionality, expectations on typical appearances for each sex (e.g., girls have long hair, boys have short hair), and even sex-based beliefs about ability. Although children are bombarded with these subtle and not so subtle communications from all around their environment, parents are one of the primary and powerful sources of these messages and cues. This entry first reviews some gender-based beliefs and stereotypes before exploring parental messages on gender and how those and societal norms influence children.

Gender-Based Beliefs and Stereotypes

Research suggests that generally people hold gender-based stereotypes about ...

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