The Influence of Conventional Masculine Gender Role Norms on Parental Attitudes Toward Seeking Psychological Services for Children

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Abstract

Paternal involvement in parent training programs has been associated with greater maintenance of treatment gains, lower attrition rates, and less maternal stress. However, male caregivers are less likely to participate in behavioral parent training (BPT) programs than female caregivers. The present study examined (a) the differences between mothers and fathers in their attitudes toward seeking help for their children, and (b) whether parents’ adherence to masculine gender role norms mediated the proposed relationship between parent sex and attitudes toward seeking psychological help for children. Fifty-two parents (women n = 26; men n = 26) completed the Attitudes Toward Seeking Professional Psychological Help Scale (ATSPPHS), Attitudes Toward Seeking Professional Psychological Help Scale–Parent Form (ATSPPHS-P), Conformity to Masculine Norms Inventory (CMNI), and Eyberg Child Behavior Inventory (ECBI). Fathers had significantly poorer attitudes toward seeking mental health services for their children than mothers. Additionally, parents’ conformity to masculine gender role norms correlated negatively and significantly with their attitudes toward help-seeking for their children. As expected, parents’ conformity to masculine gender role norms mediated the relationship between parent sex and attitudes toward seeking help for children. These findings suggest that, regardless of sex, parents’ adherence to masculine gender role norms may lead to negative attitudes toward seeking psychological help for their child.

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