- The evolutionary basis of sex differences in parenting and its relationship with child anxiety in Western societies
- Journal of Experimental Psychopathology
- Volume | Issue number
- 4 | 2
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Research Institute of Child Development and Education (RICDE)
In this review, we discuss the evolutionary basis of differences in paternal and maternal parenting behavior in Western societies and apply this to the intergenerational transmission of anxiety. The different specializations that males and females developed during the course of human evolution (e.g., social competition, risk taking, taking chances for males, and care, nurturing, intimate bonding for females), are expected to be reflected in their parenting behavior, which evidence confirms. Research is reviewed in which fathers' and mothers' role in (overcoming) child anxiety is examined. It seems that some parenting behaviors are protective for anxiety if they are expressed by the parent of one sex, but are a risk for anxiety development if the other parent displays them. Finally, we propose that it might be more difficult for anxious men to teach their sons their gender role, as anxiety hinders exploring the external world and competing with others, whereas anxiety in women is not likely to negatively affect teaching their gender role of protecting, caring and nurturing to their daughters.
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