Observed gender differences in African American mother-child relationships and child behavior

Jelani Mandara*, Carolyn B. Murray, James M. Telesford, Fatima A. Varner, Scott B. Richman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


African American mother-child dyads (N = 99) were observed interacting on a collaborative puzzle exercise. Raters blind to the purpose of the study rated the dyads on several mother and child behaviors. Mothers of daughters were rated as more empathetic, encouraging, warm, and accepting and less negative than mothers of sons. Male children were more challenging and less happy, relaxed, and engaged. Mediation analyses found that the differences in mother-child relationships explained the gender differences in child behavior. These patterns were consistent across different child age groups and after controlling for family socioeconomic status. It was concluded that many of the gender disparities may be reduced with empirically informed and culturally sensitive parent training interventions that teach parents the necessity of being warm and loving as well as encouraging both male and female children to excel.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-141
Number of pages13
JournalFamily Relations
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2012


  • African Americans
  • Gender differences
  • Observational studies
  • Parent-child relationships

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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