Dads play more with sons but are more open about emotions with daughters, according to a new parenting study published last month in Behavioral Neuroscience. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports researchers looked at 52 fathers of toddlers in the Atlanta area, recording their interactions with their children for random 50-second increments over two days. The results showed a bunch of differences in how dads interact with sons versus daughters. Dads sang more to daughters and talked more about sadness with them, according to Live Science. Dads spent three times longer playing with sons than daughters. And dads of daughters talked more about their child's body, whereas dads of sons used more words like "win" and "best."
Researchers also gave the dads MRI brain scans while they looked at photos of their children. Dads of daughters had bigger reactions to their child looking happy; dads of sons had bigger responses to their child looking neutral. Researchers say it shows dads may pay less attention to their sons' emotional needs. But Alan Kazdin tells CBS News we shouldn't draw conclusions from the small study. For one thing, the professor of child psychiatry says it's unclear whether dads treat sons and daughters differently for societal reasons or if they're responding to differences in behavior between boys and girls. (An earlier study found gender stereotypes set in surprisingly early.)