Wait Until Your Mother Gets Home! Mothers' and Fathers' Discipline Strategies

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Abstract

From a traditional viewpoint, fathers are seen as the main disciplinarian in the family. However, recent studies suggest that these traditional family role patterns may have changed. In this study, we observed discipline strategies of mothers and fathers toward their sons and daughters. Participants included 242 families with two children (1 and 3 years of age). Findings revealed that parental discipline varied by the age of the children, but that mothers disciplined their children more often than fathers. Fathers, conversely, showed more laxness in response to child non-compliance. Gender of the children was only related to physical interference, with mothers using more physical interference with boys than fathers, irrespective of birth order. Taken together, these findings highlight the importance of parent gender for parent–child interactions in early childhood, but also suggest that child age should be taken into account as important explanatory factors.

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