Children’s Gender Development: Associations With Parental Sexual Orientation, Division of Labor, and Gender Ideology

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This study examined children’s gender development and its associations with parents’ gender ideology and behavior among 172 parents (44 lesbian, 52 gay, 76 heterosexual) and their adopted children (Mage = 8). Results revealed that parents’ sexual orientation was associated with children’s gender attitudes, but not with their sex-typing of self. Daughters of same-sex couples reported more flexible gender attitudes than daughters of heterosexual couples. No differences were found for sons in this regard. While both parents’ attitudes and behaviors were associated with children’s gender attitudes, parents’ division of childcare labor was a significantly better predictor of children’s attitudes than parents’ gender ideologies. Moreover, these effects were moderated by family type. Thus, parents’ behaviors may be more strongly linked with children’s gender attitudes than children’s gendered behaviors, and this association may be moderated by the gender composition of the parenting dyad (lesbian mothers, gay fathers, or heterosexual parents).

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