Gender-Stereotyped Lessons About Emotion in Family Narratives
The present study investigated the prevalence of gender-stereotyped messages in family stories told to preschool age children. Based on previous research and theory it was expected that mothers would frame their stories with sadness and fathers would frame their stories with themes of anger. It was further expected that sons and daughters would be presented with stories that differed in emotional themes. One hundred and twenty families with preschool age children participated in the study. Mothers and fathers were asked to tell their child a story about when they were disappointed as a child. Two hundred and four stories were coded for themes of sadness, anger, mixed sadness and anger, and no emotional frame. Contrary to predictions, there were relatively few stories told with an anger frame. Mothers overall tended to tell disappointment stories with a frame of sadness. Fathers overall were more likely to use no emotional frame in their stories. Mothers were more likely to tell stories with sadness frames to their daughters than to sons. Two examples are provided that illustrate an instrumental focus of fathers' stories and the emotional content of mothers' stories. The process of creating meaningful stories may be an important avenue that parents use to impart gender-related values to their children.
Published online: 17 April 2000
Cited by 9 other publications
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