Like Parent, Like Child? The intergenerational transfer of gender identity
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Gender identity (a person’s sense of self as a male or female) is related to a variety of mental health outcomes. Little is known about the influence of family on the gender identity of children. This study explores whether parental gender identity is related to the gender identity of the child and if the sibling gender composition moderates this relationship. The research population consisted out of 142 Dutch families with at least one child between the ages of 6 and 12 years old. Mothers, fathers and children completed a questionnaire on gender identity, in which gender identity is seen as a two-dimensional construct (i.e. same-gender similarity and other-gender similarity). Regression analyses revealed that parental same-gender similarity is a significant predictor of same-gender identity in children and parental other-gender similarity predicts the other-gender similarity of children. This is specially true for mothers. Maternal same-gender similarity was also related to other-gender similarity of the child. No effect or moderation of the presence and gender composition of siblings was found.These findings suggest that the gender identity of parents, especially of mothers, plays a meaningful role in the gender identity of a child. It implies that it is important to make parents aware of the influence of their own gender identity on the gender identity of their children.
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