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Daddy’s Little Girl: Study Says Dads Do Treat Daughters and Sons Differently

posted: 06/07/17
by: Amanda Mushro
Shot of a happy father and daughter dancing together at home
iStock

If you have overheard your kids saying "Dad likes you better," you can now use a little science to end that argument. According to a recent study, the relationship a father has with their children may have nothing to do with favoring one over the other, but has more to do with gender.

The study, which was published by Science Daily and conducted by the American Psychological Association, looked at the relationship of over 50 fathers who have toddler sons or daughters. The study found fathers with daughters were more attentive and responsive to the needs of their little girls than the fathers with little boys.

Researchers also say these fathers speak more about their emotions, including happiness and sadness, and found them to sing more with their daughters. However, fathers played three times longer with their sons, roughhouse more often with them, and used more achievement-related words like "proud", "win" and "top" when interacting with their sons.

It wasn't just how they interacted with their children, but also how a father's brain worked when around their child that caught researchers' attention too. The dads were given MRI brain scans while they looked at photos of their children and the results are fascinating.

Dads of daughters had bigger reactions to their child looking happy. While dads of sons had bigger reactions to their child looking neutral. Researchers say these MRI scans show that dads may pay less attention to their sons' emotional needs.

While researchers are careful to note that the study does have some limitations, it does start interesting conversations about how we interact and show love to our children. So tell us in the comments, do you find yourself treating your daughters differently than your sons?