Studies Show that Parental Language and Interaction Can Make or Break Your Son

Just as researchers examined the ways in which gendered language damages women and girls, researchers have exposed that stereotypical messages are just as harmful to boys.

A Pediatric study in 2014, researchers discovered that mothers interact vocally more frequently with their infant daughters than with their infant sons.

In another study, researchers from the U.K. uncovered that mothers of Spanish descent were more likely to use emotional words and speak about emotional topics when talking with their 4-year-old daughters than with their 4-year-old sons.

Remarkably, the same study showed that toddler daughters were more likely to speak to their fathers about past occurrences and feelings than toddler sons. Throughout these ruminating discussions, fathers used more emotional words with their daughters than sons.

After examining parents, in an emergency room, another set of researchers found that of both genders communicate differently with their sons than their daughters. Parents are four times more likely to tell their daughters to be cautious than their sons in the same activity.

In 2017, a team of researchers from Emory University discovered that fathers sing and smile more to their daughters and use more analytical language far more than they do with their sons. Researchers noticed that when fathers are speaking to their sons, they will gravitate towards language that stresses success or accomplishment, such as “win” and “proud”. However, there are “consistent findings that girls outperform boys in school achievement outcomes.”

Women often say that they want a man that is connected to his emotions and is not afraid to express them. But, according to expert Brené Brown, males have associated shame with emotional expression since childhood.

Communication issues, involving to gender, transcends into college life as well. A Canadian study revealed that college-aged females find men more attractive or appealing if they use shorter words, smaller sentences and spoke less.

Surprisingly, males are born more sensitive and emotional than females. Edward Tronick, who explored the chemistry between infants and their mothers, discovered that mothers instinctively act more vigilantly with their sons than with their daughters because the sons need more support restricting their feelings. “So the ‘manning up’ of infant boys begins early on in their typical interactions and long before language plays its role.”, Dr. Tronick said.

Unconsciously, parents limit the emotional vocabulary of their sons because it is a part of preparing their boys to become men; the sooner you start, the better off they will be. But, the Harvard psychologist, Susan David reported that “Research shows that people who suppress emotions have lower-level resilience and emotional health.”

According to Dr. David, parents can change this by letting their sons, at a young age, experience and express their emotions without judgements or solutions. Parents should say: “I can see that you’re upset,” or ask them, “What are you feeling?” or “What’s going on for you right now?” Parents must encourage communication and expression.

About Amanda Ribeiro

Amanda Ribeiro is a runner by day and an intern for Rush Hour Daily by night. When Amanda isn't running in circles, she enjoys spontaneous trips to exotic locations, hikes in state parks and practicing yoga. Amanda chooses to live her life according to the beat of her own drum. "Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail" —Ralph Waldo Emerson

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