MONDAY, 12 NOVEMBER 2012

The surprising mental health effects of gender equality parenting

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FIA logoA couple of weeks ago we noted some Swedish research that showed the adverse mental and physical effects on mothers with dependent children of working outside the home. Here is another report from The Family in America journal about the mental health benefits -- or otherwise -- on adolescent girls and boys of oarents who hew to the gender equality model of domestic and working life.

When parents embrace the ideal of gender equality, their children enjoy the best possible mental health. They must. All the progressive commentators say so. Unfortunately, empirical science has just delivered a rude shock to the progressive dreamers, as public-health officials in left-leaning Sweden established that gender-equality between parents fosters mental pathology in adolescent children.

This linkage was the last thing the researchers were looking for. Indeed, the researchers began their study with the understanding—fostered by their colleagues’ scholarship—that “gender equality between parents is good for the children.” Their interest was the impact of parental gender equality on the well-being of adolescent females. For as they surveyed professional literature indicating that “females generally suffer more from mental ill-health conditions than males,” the researchers understandably supposed that “the search for explanations should consider the gender system.”

Their attempt to understand adolescent psychopathology focused on data collected for 54,282 Swedish boys and 51,504 Swedish girls born in 118,595 Swedish homes between 1988 and 1989. The researchers’ concern for the effect of household gender arrangements on young females seems justified, as their data reveal that “girls consume around twice as much outpatient mental care in the ages 13–18 years, and drugs due to anxiety and depression in the ages 17–20 years, than boys.”

To assess the gender equality of these young Swedes’ parents, the researchers examined parental-leave data, discerning “gender equality” in households in which “each parent took at least 40% and at most 60% of the total parental leave” and as “gender inequality” in households in which they found “one parent taking less than 20% (and hence the other parent more than 80%) of the parental leave days.”

But the expectation that parental gender equality would foster mental health in children was not borne out by the data. Quite otherwise. When the researchers take the use of psychotropic drugs as their indicator of mental illness, they find—to their surprise—that “girls with very traditional, rather traditional and untraditional parents have lower risks than girls with gender-equal parents.” It may come as some consolation to progressive theorists that Swedish girls apparently enjoy good mental health when reared in “untraditional” households in which fathers are the primary care-givers. But what can these theorists say about the finding that Swedish girls growing up with gender-equal parents are far more reliant on psychotropic drugs than are peers growing up in “very traditional and somewhat traditional” gender arrangements?

The problems these findings pose for progressive theorists only grow more acute when the focus shifts to Swedish boys...

Read more -- scroll down the page to: Gender Equality: Formula for Mental Illness.

(Source: Bryce J. Christensen and Robert W. Patterson, “New Research,” The Family in America, Fall 2012, Vol. 26 Number 3. Study: Lisa Norström, Lene Lindberg, and Anna Månsdotter, “Could Gender Equality in Parental Leave Harm Off–springs’ Mental Health? A Registry Study of the Swedish Parental/Child Cohort of 1988/89,” International Journal for Equity in Health 11 [March 2012]: 19.)


MORE ON THESE TOPICS | adolescents, gender equality, mental health

Copyright © Bryce J. Christensen . Published by MercatorNet.com. You may download and print extracts from this article for your own personal and non-commercial use only. Contact us if you wish to discuss republication.

 
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Family Edge looks at news and trends affecting the family in the light of human dignity. Our focus is the inspiring, creative, humorous, annoying, ridiculous, and dangerous ideas in the evening news. Send tips and brainwaves to the editor, Tamara Rajakariar, at tamara.rajakariar@ mercatornet.com


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