Parents’ choice to find out baby’s sex before birth reveals more than the gender of their offspring. According to a recent study from Ohio State University, a woman’s decision to learn her baby’s sex before birth may be an indicator of her child-rearing beliefs.

According to the researchers, mothers who are more open to new experiences, have higher levels of conscientiousness, and have more egalitarian views about the roles of men and women in society tend to wait until delivery to learn their baby’s sex. Mothers who scored higher on a test of parenting perfectionism, meaning they had unrealistically high expectations, were slightly more likely to learn their baby’s sex in utero. Furthermore, mothers who reported higher levels of curiosity and independence were less likely to learn their baby’s sex before birth.

The research focused on 182 expectant mothers in Columbus, Ohio who participated in a study to track behaviors across the transition to parenthood. The research team administered a variety of tests to pregnant women to measure personality, gender role beliefs, and expectations regarding parenting perfectionism. Approximately two out of three of the expectant mothers in the study knew their baby’s sex before birth.

Mothers who knew the sex of their child before birth tended to have lower levels of education and lower household incomes, and were less likely to be married than mothers who waited for a delivery-room surprise.

Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan, one of the members of the research team, believes this study is a starting point to address questions about the implications that this knowledge may have for future parenting.

The study will appear in an upcoming edition of Personality and Individual Differences.
May 8, 2014 is National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. Sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), PAR is proud to be a supporter of this national event.

National launch activities will be held during the National Council for Behavioral Health annual conference at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center near Washington, DC. Registration for the Awareness Day general session and the “What Really Works for Young Adults: A Candid Conversation” workshop is free.

Even if you are not going to be in Washington, DC for the event, you can show your support during one of the many local events taking place throughout the country that promote the importance of caring for every child’s mental health. You can also tune into the live Webcast of the national launch event on May 6 from 1:45 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. EDT.

Awareness Day focuses on positive mental health and its important relationship to a child’s healthy development. More than 1,100 communities and 136 national organizations are collaborating to make this year’s event bigger and better than ever.
A new study from researchers at Northwestern University helps to better understand the powerful impact words have on infants.

While babies were watching the researchers intently, an experimenter used her forehead to turn on a light. She then allowed the infants to play with the light themselves to see if they would imitate this novel action. In a second group, the experimenter announced what she was doing, naming the activity with a nonsense word (“I’m going to blick the light”), before using her forehead to turn on the light. In this group, the infants were more likely to imitate the behavior. Researchers believe that the subjects in the study were more likely to see the behavior as an intentional event when it was paired with language, and thus, imitate it.

This points to the idea that infants as young as 14 months of age coordinate what they know about human behavior with their knowledge of language when they choose which actions to imitate. Infants’ observation skills, when paired with language, heighten their ability for understanding of intentions and actions. Without language to convey meaning, infants do not imitate these “strange” actions, allowing language to unlock a bigger world of social actions.

To read more about this study, see Developmental Psychology.