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Social influence on sex roles: The role of the parent

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  1. Sex and gender are part of the essential framework of the self.
  2. Children identify with a gender first.
  3. Durkin's statement on gender labeling.
  4. A highly influential way that parents direct a child's concept of gender.
  5. The social environment that the parents create.
  6. The media is the most easily measurable indicator of the mainstream societal beliefs.
  7. Social roles and expected behavior based on gender.

In developmental psychology one of the most critical topics of debate is that of nature versus nurture and the ensuing balance of the two. Both the surrounding social environment and the child's predisposition must be taken into account when examining the development of the self. As emphasized by Durkin, there is a balance between a child's response to the environment and their predetermined self. ?External influences are not omnipotent? and therefore do not determine all facets of self development (Durkin, 1995, p. 297). Children are not passive in their development, nor are they a void to be filled by their parent's and society's beliefs. They are, however, affected by their environment and extremely impressionable during the crucial time of self development of infancy to adolescence. This paper aims to discuss the social dimensions that effect a child's gender development. Focusing on the role of the parent, we will also discuss general socially accepted ?meanings? of being a boy and a girl.

[...] The development of the self is a highly social process and the critical development of the gender role is a social construct based on the natural and biological sex distinction. As Durkin understood the development of a self concept is simultaneously despite, and because of other people? (Durkin, 297). Our actions towards and responses to a child's behavior; whether we are a parent, peer or merely a part of general society, affect how that child is going to behave. When examining our influence on the development of gender, which is a socially learned construct, we must take into considerations our preconceived ideas as well as the child's predisposition to a certain concept of self. [...]


[...] As exemplified by Durkin (1995) there have been studies on the correlation between parental encouragement of behavior based on sex and the child's subsequent gender role identification. It would be expected that boys would be encouraged to be more aggressive and competitive than girls, who were encouraged to be polite and caring ?ladies', however, no actual sexual based differences in parenting was found(Durkin, 1995). Therefore the consequent comparison on the effect of the parenting style on the development of child could not be made. [...]

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