The extent of mothers' and fathers' involvement in children's play and stylistic variations in that play were examined among 35 preschool children (17 boys) in separate laboratory sessions. The sample included 28 European-American families, 3 African-American families, and 4 families of other ethnic origin. Boys were more likely to play physically than girls, whereas girls were more likely to engage in pretense play than boys. Both boys and girls were more likely to engage in pretense play in the presence of mothers than in the presence of fathers. Moreover, parents of girls were more likely to be involved in pretense play than parents of boys. Fathers of boys were more likely to be involved in physical play than fathers of girls or mothers of boys or girls. Sequential analysis revealed that parents of girls were somewhat more likely to comply with their children's play leads than were parents of boys. In addition, mothers were more likely to comply with children's play directives than were fathers. The data suggest that parents may contribute to children's gender-specific styles of play and influence by modeling particular play behaviors and/or providing differential patterns of reinforcement to sons and daughters.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Gender Studies
- Social Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology