In the United States, parents prefer a child of each gender, and on many dimensions parents tend to treat sons and daughters similarly. However, fathers' investments appear to be somewhat higher in families with sons. Fathers spend more time with sons than with daughters. Fathers more often marry and stay married and mothers report more marital happiness in families with sons—although associations are weakening and differentials are not large. Divorced fathers more often have custody of sons than of daughters. Daughters do more housework than sons, mirroring the gendered division of labor in adulthood. Parental support of educational activities varies, with some parental behaviors greater for sons but others higher for daughters. Whether parents encourage gender differences or whether children's gender-differentiated behaviors elicit differential parental treatment cannot be easily determined with studies to date, most of which are cross-sectional or limited in other ways that hamper conclusions about causal mechanisms.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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