Children's gender development: Associations with parental sexual orientation, division of labor, and gender ideology

Jason Sumontha, Rachel H. Farr, Charlotte J. Patterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


This study examined children's gender development and its associations with parents' gender ideology and behavior among 172 parents (44 lesbian, 52 gay, 76 heterosexual) and their adopted children (Mage = 8). Results revealed that parents' sexual orientation was associated with children's gender attitudes, but not with their sex-typing of self. Daughters of same-sex couples reported more flexible gender attitudes than daughters of heterosexual couples. No differences were found for sons in this regard. While both parents' attitudes and behaviors were associated with children's gender attitudes, parents' division of childcare labor was a significantly better predictor of children's attitudes than parents' gender ideologies. Moreover, these effects were moderated by family type. Thus, parents' behaviors may be more strongly linked with children's gender attitudes than children's gendered behaviors, and this association may be moderated by the gender composition of the parenting dyad (lesbian mothers, gay fathers, or heterosexual parents).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)438-450
Number of pages13
JournalPsychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by funding from the American Psychological Foundation’s Wayne F. Placek Grant awarded to Rachel H. Farr (Wave 2), the Williams Institute at UCLA to Charlotte J. Patterson (Wave 1), and funds from the Rudd Family Foundation Chair in Psychology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. We thank the members of our research team who have contributed to the design and execution of the overall project. We are grateful to all the adoptive families who generously shared their experiences with us and have made this research possible.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 American Psychological Association.


  • Adoption
  • children's gender development
  • division of labor
  • sexual minority parents
  • sexual orientation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Psychology (all)


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