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Do Kids’ Listening Skills Vary with Gender of the Speaker?

Parents often feel that their kids don’t listen well to them.  Both moms and dads may feel that their kids listen better to the other parent.  But is this perception accurate?  Do kids tend to listen better to their moms . . . or to their dads?

I have seen no scientific studies on kids’ listening skills by gender of the speaker.  For anecdotal evidence to be reliable, it needs to comprise a large enough group of observed families that individual personalities and communication styles could be factored out or adjusted for.  That is where I come in.  Not only am I a mother myself, but I operate a family of companies that connect families and paid caregivers and provide them tools to aid that employment relationship.  In my 20+ years of experience working with families, and having one of my own, I have a large body of anecdotal evidence. 

It is my experience that speaker gender, in and of itself, does not affect the degree to which kids listen well.  Instead, it is my opinion that individual parents can, and often do, choose a host of behaviors that have the effect of minimizing their voice in their child’s life.  A mom sees her child violate a house rule and says, “Just wait ’til your dad gets home!”  A dad sees his child violate a rule and chuckles at the “cute little stinker”.  One parent lives a life of consistent poor life choices; another parent chatters non-stop and criticizes often.  How kids respond to these parental behaviors will depend on the personalities of the kids; however, each of these parental behaviors can be seen by kids as tune-me-out kinds of prompts.   

In sum, it is my professional opinion that kids’ listening skills vary less with gender of the speaker and more with communication styles and personalities of the speaker.

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