Parents often take turns telling stories to their kids, and while the children love the nightly ritual no matter who’s on duty, a study on suggests that mothers may leave a more lasting impression than fathers.

The research, led by Widaad Zaman from the University of Central Florida and Robyn Fivush from the Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, delved into how parental gender differences can affect children, focusing on the angle of talking and telling stories.

Previous research has shown that when parents talk about their experiences, children develop the ability to connect and interpret the past, present, and probable future into an understandable timeline. To learn more about it, Zaman and Fivush worked with 42 families with children between ages four and five. Both parents were asked to recount four past emotional experiences of their children, namely: situations which depict happiness, sadness, conflict with a peer, and conflict with a parent.

The results showed that mothers told more elaborate tales with more emotional words compared to fathers. According to researchers, this showed the "child the importance of his own version, perspective, and feelings about the experience."

This doesn't mean that fathers aren't effective storytellers,but it may help for both parents to understand that descriptive and emotional words may be needed in storytelling to help in the development of their children’s mental and emotional capacities. Spending time with the kids may improve parental bonds and increase trust and openness. After all, what matters isn’t the gender of the storyteller, but the ties that truly build strong family relationships.

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(Photo by Global Lives Kazakhstan via Flickr Creative Commons)

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