| Updated at: 1004 PST, Thursday, October 07, 2010|
LONDON: A new UK study has revealed that mothers are more critical of their daughters than their sons.
According to the survey conducted by the parenting website Netmums, a majority of mums view girls more negatively - and are much stricter with them - than boys.
But the idea of mothers favouring their sons over their daughters could be much more than just a stereotype, a poll suggests.
And though they may be loath to admit it, mothers really do have favourites, it found.
They are more likely to describe their sons as ‘funny’, ‘cheeky’, ‘playful’ and ‘loving’.
But when it comes to their daughters they are far more critical – believing them to be more ‘stroppy’, ‘argumentative’ and ‘serious’, according to the study by parenting website Netmums.
In fact, 88 per cent of mothers polled admit to treating boys and girls differently, despite considering it wrong to do so.
More than half – 55 per cent – said they found it easier to bond with their sons.
And seven per cent admitted their sons were given more treats than their daughters.
The survey, which questioned more than 2,000 women who have both sons and daughters, found that mothers were twice as likely to be critical of their daughters than sons – 21 per cent compared to 11.5 per cent.
Crissy Duff, a counsellor and adviser at Netmums, warned that the types of attitudes uncovered by the survey could have a long-lasting effect on girls.
The trend could be one reason why women tend to be more self-critical than men, who are more likely to grow up with a happy-go-lucky attitude and brush off mistakes, she said.
‘Women in particular seem to carry the feelings of parental disapproval and negative typing into their adulthood,’ she said.
‘The experience of receiving more negative reinforcements for stepping out of line than their male counterparts can lead women to view themselves as more needing
More than a fifth of mothers polled – 21.5 per cent – let their sons get away with more mischief, compared with 17.8 per cent who said their daughters were given more leeway.
Mothers were more likely to attribute positive personality traits to their sons than their daughters.
Almost half of mothers questioned – 48 per cent – said their sons were a mummy’s boy, while just over a third – 35 per cent – said their daughters could be described as daddy’s girl.
A Netmums founder, Siobhan Freegard, said: ‘As a mum of two boys and a girl, I know first-hand that, try as we might, it can be very hard to treat all of your children the same.
‘This is a great wake-up call to mums to help break gender cycles and even out the differences in how the sexes behave and think about themselves. It is a huge ask, but an achievable one.’
Tips from the site’s experts include offering girls the chance to play with trains and building blocks. Boys should be given the chance to play with a toy kitchen instead of a garage.
They also urge parents not to rescue daughters every time they see her struggle with a task. Given time and space to solve a problem, daughters’ sense of self-respect and independence will flourish.