Statement of purpose Little is known about the role of fathers in the socialization of safety values in children. Here, we examine how parent and child gender influence the socialization of safety values.
Methods/Approach Thirty-six parent-child dyads, with 8- to 10-year-old children (18 females, 27 mothers), jointly discussed and rated a set of 12 photographs depicting a child engaged in various physical activities (eg, reaching over a hot burner to pick up a pan). Conversations were coded for measures of who provided the initial rating, disagreements about safety, dangerous features and potential outcomes used to support ratings, and the final rating.
Results Mixed-effects regressions included fixed effects of parent and child gender, a random intercept of dyad, and a covariate of child age. Mothers were 1.90 times more likely to provide the first rating with daughters, whereas fathers were 3.49 times more likely to so do with sons, z = 1.96, p = 0.04. Mothers and sons were 1.75 times more likely to disagree when compared to mother-daughter dyads, whereas fathers and daughters were 2.27 times more likely to disagree with one another compared to father-son dyads, z = -2.70, p = 0.01. While gender did not significantly predict references to dangerous features or potential outcomes, dyads with fathers rated the activities as being safer compared to dyads with mothers, t(31) = -2.13, p = 0.04.
Conclusions Allowing children to provide the first safety rating is critical for understanding their perspective, yet parents in same-gender dyads did so more often than opposite-gender dyads. Disagreements are important in parents’ efforts to socialize safety values, but again same-gender dyads disagreed less than opposite-gender dyads.
Significance Fathers may be underplaying riskiness relative to mothers and therefore increasing risk of childhood injury.
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