Master of Arts (MA)
Faculty of Science
Some research suggests that adults as parents, in particular, may orient their moral reasoning and socialization of children differentially by gender (Lollis, Ross, & Leroux, 1996; Pratt, Amold, & Hilbers, 1998; Pratt, Golding, Hunter, & Sampson, 1988). The present study investigates the extent to which mothers and fathers differ in their moral orientations with respect to socializing young children, speciﬁcally in their use of a narrative or storytelling mode. The present study also examines the extent to which gender of the child inﬂuences the orientation of parents’ socialization narratives told to and about their young children. Thirty married couples, whose ﬁrst child was approximately four and a half years of age, participated in this study. Two personal narratives were obtained from both parents at separate times. The ﬁrst narrative involved discussing a family story about an event from the parents’ childhood when he or she had learned an important value. The second narrative involved each parent completing a value choice task and then providing a narrative on a teaching or socialization experience with the child, following the procedure of Pratt and his colleagues (1998). Consistent with previous ﬁndings (Pratt et al., 1998), the results revealed that mothers were somewhat more likely than fathers to express stronger levels of care in these narratives, although this ﬁnding was only marginally signiﬁcant (p < .06). Furthermore, mothers and fathers were quite different in the patterns of care expressed to their sons and daughters. Speciﬁcally, fathers were signiﬁcantly more likely to consider justice issues in their narratives regarding their sons than their daughters, whereas mothers did not differentiate by child gender. This ﬁnding is consistent with the gender socialization literature, in which fathers are more gender-differentiated in socializing their children than are mothers. The present study highlights the practical usefulness of this narrative technique in studying value socialization within a family context. Future research is needed to further examine what role gender and narrative play in the development of moral thinking.
Hilbers, Susan M., "Gender differences and similarities in moral orientations: A narrative approach to moral socialization within the family" (1998). Theses and Dissertations (Comprehensive). 665.