At least the 2,500 Mums on the notorious advice web-site Netmums who contributed to the study reported in the press today.
Mums say they are more critical of their daughters whilst accepting poorer behaviour from their sons which they put down to playfulness rather than the stroppy behaviour they attribute to their daughters.
Although the majority (but not all) said that they believed they should treat their children the same regardless of gender 10% admitted providing treats for their sons more than their daughters, one-third admitted they were closer to one of their children and two-thirds of that group said it was their son they were closer to.
1 in 3 admitted they had fallen out with the child’s father about this discrimination resulting in Dads making up for it by spoiling their daughters (and some Mums may also overcompensate by treating their daughters to a girls’ day out).
A counsellor who analysed the findings said that a more critical upbringing could have serious effects in later life and that women in particular seemed to carry the feelings of parental disapproval into adulthood. She said that because women received more negative reinforcement than their brothers they could view themselves as needing more censure and it could explain why women were more self-critical than men.
A support team at Netmums was offering advice to help Mums break this cycle of picking on daughters. For example they suggest encouraging young girls to play with trains as well as dolls as well as giving them more time and space to struggle and solve tasks rather than rescuing them.
I can go along with some of that, for example women do seem to be more self-critical in managerial roles and suffer “imposter syndrome” more than men but having girls play with boys’ toys seems a bit too PC these days. And if they believe that shouldn’t they have a word with Tesco about their Xmas adverts along the lines of; “a transformer for the boys and a doll for the girls”?