Does The Mindset Of A Father Mean He Puts His Child’s Future Over The Present?

Photo by Arleen wiese on Unsplash

By Jackie Edwards

New research has found that activating a parenting mindset causes both men and women to make different consumer decisions. With 77% of Americans stating that women experience a lot of pressure to be the involved party, the new study reveals that women are far more likely to focus on the present situation, whereas, men will make choices based on the future. While, this might sound like the perfect parent setup, it shows that parenting stereotypes are still prevalent in the modern world and that a father’s role in his child’s upbringing can be considerably differ to that of the mother’s.

What the study tells us about gender inequality

The study which was conducted by Kelly Haws of Vanderbilt University is set to be published in the Journal of Consumer Research. It revealed that despite years of work in overhauling the way individuals see the two genders and pushing for gender equality, women are still viewed as a child’s primary caregiver. Haws’s pilot study also revealed that these stereotypes exist regardless of whether the participants were parents or not. Following a series of experiments, the research revealed that in the early stages of a child’s life, in most cases the female caregiver’s main focus was on the child’s immediate needs, such as food and clothes. In contrast, the breadwinner of the family, who was the usually the father, saw their child’s future as their main priority.  This parenting mindset also existed in the non-parenting experiments carried out.

The experiment

In another part of the experiment participants were encouraged to think like a parent and consider rent-to-own businesses. These businesses charge parents to rent out baby products and typically cost more in the long run. This test revealed that when the products contained images of infants, the females had a more positive attitude towards these businesses than the men. This highlights the need to encourage parents to choose the best products on the market regardless of the images on their packaging. For example, when baby proofing your home, high quality products which are proven to work should be chosen to protect your baby and keep them safe rather than ones that suit gender stereotypes.

Changing your mindset

Carol Dweck’s Mindset: The New Psychology of Success advocates adapting a growth mindset when you become a parent to allow you to learn from your mistakes and grow with your child. She even states that it’s possible to switch your mindset in some areas of your life and not others although, parenting is a key area in which you focus on. It is, however, important to note that having a growth mindset is not the way to tackle parental stereotypes across the globe. Instead, it provides parents with the opportunity to change the way they see their own roles and to prevent their offspring from learning behaviors typically associated with males and females. Common father stereotypes such as being bad cooks and that they’d rather have fun than be a strict parent are harmful clichés that must be stamped out by fathers so that they can emerge as powerful role models in the family setup.

Reversing gender biases

Thankfully, the participants in Haws’s experiment were able to reverse their mindset when the females were asked to imagine that they were their family’s breadwinner and their male partner was the primary caregiver. In this scenario, the women suddenly became more focused on the future and could see the benefit in waiting for larger, future rewards than the men who envisioned being the primary caregiver. So, what do these findings tell us about gender biases? The authors of the study state that “These findings support the hypothesis that the effect of parenting motivation on temporal preferences is not driven by stereotypes of men and women per se, but is instead driven by stereotypes of the parenting roles of primary caretaker and breadwinner, regardless of whether this role is played by a man or a woman.”

The main finding from this experiment reveals that a father’s mindset considerably differs to that of a mother’s and that gender stereotypes still exist in the parenting world with the father usually considered the main breadwinner. Thankfully, one key finding from the research shows that reversing gender biases is as easy as parents adapting their mindsets and thinking differently.
















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