Are Parents of Girls More Likely to Play It Safe? Study Says Yes

Researchers say that this difference doesn’t just affect your family – it can actually have global impacts.
ByNatalie Escobar
Published
Jun 2017
A baby holds the bars of a child-proofing gate, one of the measures that parents take to protect their children.
Photo: Martin Prescot, Getty Images

If you’re a new parent, danger often seems like it’s at every turn. The world doesn’t become child-proof once baby enters it, so it’s understandable if you’re constantly on high alert for small objects, steep stairs and germ-covered surfaces. Even if you logically know that babies are resilient small humans who have historically survived bacteria and light tumbles over millennia, it can be difficult not to worry. And for the parents of girls, apparently, this fear of risk is perhaps even more prevalent.

Parents of daughters avoid risk-taking at double the rates that those with sons do, according to researchers associated with the Society for Risk Analysis. They analyzed prenatal and post-birth data about parents’ attitudes about risk from pediatricians in United Kingdom and Ukrainian hospitals, and found that gender is the no. 1 influence on how parents engage in potentially perilous behaviors.

This might seem like a parenting problem, if it’s even a problem at all; after all, what’s the matter with trying to keep your child safe? According to the researchers, though, this finding is actually a big deal on a larger scale, especially if you’re in the insurance market or an economist. Risk seeps into the fabric of everyday life in the tiniest of ways, whether it’s how you drive, what insurance policies you buy or even what foods you choose to buy at the grocery store. So the gender of your child could influence all of those choices too.

The global implications are something that the researchers hope that future studies can explore more, but it’s worth examining how their findings might apply to your own parenting. Are you being overprotective of your daughter compared to how other parents are with their sons? What things do you tend to allow your son to do that you might not allow a daughter? And when it comes to risk in general, just remember: parenting doesn’t have to be a daily onslaught of stress.

UPDATE: What You Need to Know About the Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder Scare

Anisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Published
04/16/2018

Top Halloween Safety Tips for Parents of Trick-or-Treating Tots

Dina DiMaggio, MD, and Anthony F. Porto, MD, MPH

How to Avoid Lead Poisoning in Children

Lisa Milbrand
Contributing Writer

11 Essential Winter Safety Tips for Baby

Celia Shatzman
Contributing Writer

What One Mom Needs Every Parent to Know After Newborn’s Close Call

Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
04/29/2019

Study: Every Two Hours a Kid Is Rushed to the ER Because of These Household Items

Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
06/17/2019

EWG Ranks This Summer's Best—And Worst—Sunscreens for Kids

Anisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Published
05/24/2017

Mom's Viral Life Jacket Video Reminds Parents to Test Vests First

Ashley Edwards Walker
Contributing Writer
Published
08/20/2018

YouTube Cracks Down on Inappropriate Content for Kids

Natalie Neusch
Contributing Writer
Published
11/26/2017

Ask the Pediatrician: How Can I Keep Baby Safe This Winter?

Dina DiMaggio, MD, and Anthony F. Porto, MD, MPH

7 Big Ways Parenting Rules Changed for the Better in 2016

Ashlee Neuman
Deputy Editor
Published
12/28/2016

Preschooler Endures Emergency Surgery After Swallowing Toy Magnets

Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
12/31/2018