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The attachment of girls to their father and of boys to their mother: is it really true?

O apego das meninas ao pai e dos meninos a mãe

A time-honored idea is that girls are more attached to their father and boys to their mother, with parents also tending to spoil their child of the opposite sex. At Bebé a Bordo we questioned this concept. Is this really the case? Come find out.

While, on the whole, we know that moms and dads just want to raise well adjusted and happy children, the truth is that we keep hearing on the street that, in the world of parenting, you notice “softies” for one child or another, often associating this difference with the sex of the child itself.

With regard to the emotional development of the child or his emotional-education this may raise some questions, besides bringing with it, quite evidently, the cultural traits related to gender stereotypes that mark Western societies.

So, although it is quite common to hear, in the popular voice, that fathers protect girls more and mothers protect boys more; or that girls prefer their father and boys prefer their mother, it becomes necessary to question whether this has any kind of scientific basis and to understand what people think about the issue.

We have drawn on some conversations with Baby on Board readers to try to understand if these “preferences” are even real.

Let us know the results of our survey.

The attachment of girls to their father and boys to their mother

Dad to the girl and mother to the boy: what motivates this idea?

The idea, which has been perpetuated over the years, is that fathers protect and love their daughters more, while mothers do the same for their sons.

However, far from there being any scientific evidence for this to be the case, this parenting relationship anchored on the sex of the children nevertheless manifests something that is present in the everyday life of our societies: gender stereotypes.

A father may, in fact, see his daughter as a more fragile being and more in need of attention and favor her; just as a mother may consider her daughter more difficult to tame and come into conflict with her more easily (which, incidentally, is a well-known stereotype of the relationship between women).

Still, this whole process, while socially and culturally explicable, is neither closed nor obligatory. With an open mind, we decided to ask some people how they feel about it.

The attachment of girls to their father and boys to their mother

Some personal accounts

We asked some of our readers if they were closer to their mother or father and these were the answers we got: 

Note: The names of underage persons and those who requested it have been changed to protect their identity. All ages are real.

“I like my mother the best. I’ve always been closer to her but I’ve never felt that she was less strict than my father. It’s just easier to talk to her.” 
– Jose Jesus, age 16

“I loved my mother very much but my relationship with her was different from the one I had with my father. She was the authority figure, he was the partying buddy. I eventually became closer to him. Today I see that he trimmed my game a lot.” 
– Maria Matias, 61 years old

“Same. I don’t feel more for one than the other and I always thought

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Written by Marina Ferraz

Marina Ferraz was born in Coimbra (Portugal) in 1989. She has a degree in Communication Sciences from the University of Minho and a Master in the same area from the University of Coimbra.
Author by the Portuguese Society of Authors since 2008

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