12 Reasons Why Parents May Treat Sons & Daughters Differently

Last Updated on February 14, 2024 by Lifevif Team and JC Franco

Have you ever wondered why your mother and father seem to treat your sibling a little differently to you? Perhaps you have a brother and notice that he seems to have more freedom than you, or perhaps you have a sister and wonder why your parents seem to dote on her so much more than they dote on you. It can be quite infuriating to find that your mother or father treats you differently just because of your gender. The good news is that it is an issue that has swept the world for decades and whether you are the child or parent in the scenario, there’s no need to worry – you are not alone. It could all just be the way things are, naturally.  

While it’s probably not a conscious thing that parents do, they do, in fact, treat their sons and daughters differently. If you take a bit of time to observe a parent-child relationship, you might be able to instantly pick up on how the parents respond differently to children depending on their gender. This can be frustrating and confusing to the kids, but the reality is that parents just want what’s best for their children. What could be seen as differential treatment is often just a way for parents to show that they genuinely care. In fact, often, they aren’t even aware of it.

Why is he allowed to spend the whole weekend out with his girlfriend and buddies when she has to stay home and make sure her chores are done? Yup, parents treat their kids differently, and it’s usually most evident when comparing male and female siblings. If you’re the kid in this situation, take a breath – it’s not all that bad! 

Let’s take a look at several simple reasons why parents typically treat their sons and daughters differently. Perhaps it will shed some light on your own situation…

Why parents treat sons and daughters differently – 12 reasons:

1. Parents generally overestimate sons and underestimate daughters.

It’s a fact that parents consider sons more physically capable than daughters. This is probably from a strength and recovery point of view. Mothers of toddlers might not flinch half as much when their son takes a tumble trying to walk as when the same thing happens to their daughter. This type of general overestimation and underestimation can continue throughout life.

2. Societal norms tell us that females need more protection than males.

Throughout time, society sells us the narrative that females need protection and that males are required to provide it. And the reality is that most of us buy into it. Because of this societal norm, parents end up being overprotective of their daughters and generally feel that their sons can look after themselves.  

3. Parents are more protective of daughters.

Naturally, parents are just more protective of their daughters. The general idea is that they are the fairer sex. Of course, young growing girls are always at more risk than boys. 

4. Daughters are at higher risk of being attacked/raped than sons. 

It’s not nice to think about, but being attacked and raped while on the street or out and about is a reality in a girl’s life – it’s a real threat/risk that has to be thought about and safeguarded against. Sons don’t face the same risk and therefore are often given a lot of extra leeways. When parents seem more focused on their daughter’s safety than their son’s, it could just be for this reason. 

5. Parents fear that their daughter may get pregnant.

You might notice that some parents allow their son more leeway with their girlfriend than they will allow their daughter with her boyfriend. The truth of the matter is that parents worry that their daughter will end up pregnant before the right time. 

6. It’s built-in and unbiased (society makes us unaware of how we treat people differently).

Psychologically speaking, most parents don’t know that they are treating their sons and daughters differently at all. It’s often a built-in thing that just happens. This is mainly due to society and because it’s something that has been done for many years and accepted as the “norm” – now people blindly continue.

7. Parents fear their daughters might get injured, whereas sons can take care of themselves.

A research by the New York University showed that a cohort of mothers will believe that their baby sons can pull themselves and crawl up slopes of at least 20 degrees, whereas they believe their daughters can only pull themselves and crawl up slopes of 14 degrees. Parents naturally worry that their daughters will get injured but have confidence that their sons are more capable of looking after themselves or avoiding injury. 

8. Daughters are more attuned to emotions than sons are.

Parents typically feel more comfortable talking to a daughter about feelings and emotions, because daughters are more attuned to emotions than sons are. This is one of the reasons why parents will typically have more heart to hearts with daughters than sons.

9. Sons are considered more logical thinkers.

You might find that parents trust a son to plan a road trip more than they trust a daughter. Why is this? This is, typically, because men are considered logical thinkers and can plan strategically. It doesn’t mean that a daughter wouldn’t be great at planning a trip, but it’s just the generally accepted norm. 

10. Daughters are said to mature quicker than sons. 

Why are more chores and responsibilities assigned to daughters than to sons? Well, the answer for this is not that parents want to punish their daughters, but more because women are known to mature quicker than men, which means they feel that their daughter will be able to act more responsibly than their son in certain instances. 

11. Old fashioned thinking leads parents to believe they must take care of daughters while sons must forge their own path. 

Most parents are stuck in old-fashioned thinking. What was typically acceptable when they were children will typically stick in their minds. Old fashioned thinking focuses on how women need to be taken care of and how men need to be protectors and forge their own path. This can lead to parents treating their sons like they need to grow up and take charge and treating their daughters like they need to be protected. 

12. Over-thinking and worrying might lead to treating sons and daughters differently. 

Parents are naturally worried about the safety of their kids and their futures, too. If they spend a lot of time obsessing or worrying about their kids, it could lead to an imbalance in how sons and daughters are treated. 

Last word

If you have ever spent time wondering why sons and daughters are treated differently by their parents, perhaps the pointers above will shed some light for you. Take some time to consider the complexities of family relationships and think about it from the parents’ side. Before assuming that treatment is unfair, consider that it could just be a sign of caring.

+ posts

This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who share their experiences and knowledge about the "Seven F's of Life".

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco is a New York-based editor for Lifevif. He mainly focuses on content about faith, spirituality, personal growth, finance, and sports. He graduated from Mercyhurst University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business, majoring in Marketing. He is a certified tennis instructor who teaches in the New York City Metropolitan area. In terms of finance, he has passed the Level I exam of the CFA program.