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Child Development Research
Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 3719358, 8 pages
Research Article

Young Children’s Risk-Taking: Mothers’ Authoritarian Parenting Predicts Risk-Taking by Daughters but Not Sons

Department of Psychology, Oklahoma State University, 116 North Murray Hall, Stillwater, OK 74078, USA

Correspondence should be addressed to Shelia M. Kennison

Received 3 June 2017; Revised 19 August 2017; Accepted 12 September 2017; Published 15 October 2017

Academic Editor: Elena Nicoladis

Copyright © 2017 Erin E. Wood and Shelia M. Kennison. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


We investigated how mothers’ parenting behaviors and personal characteristics were related to risk-taking by young children. We tested contrasting predictions from evolutionary and social role theories with the former predicting higher risk-taking by boys compared to girls and the latter predicting that mothers would influence children’s gender role development with risk-taking occurring more in children parented with higher levels of harshness (i.e., authoritarian parenting style). In our study, mothers reported their own gender roles and parenting styles as well as their children’s risk-taking and activities related to gender roles. The results were only partially consistent with the two theories, as the amount of risk-taking by sons and daughters did not differ significantly and risk-taking by daughters, but not sons, was positively related to mothers’ use of the authoritarian parenting style and the girls’ engagement in masculine activities. Risk-taking by sons was not predicted by any combination of mother-related variables. Overall, mothers who were higher in femininity used more authoritative and less authoritarian parenting styles. Theoretical implications as well as implications for predicting and reducing children’s risk-taking are discussed.