Sex appropriate behaviours are produced as children identify themselves with the same sex-parent. Fathers play a very important role to sons when they reach the age of two and the interaction between them as they grow. Eventually boys start paying much attention to girls and vice versa (Lamb, 1979). However, if the father is absent for the first four years, boys become more dependent on peers, less assertive and less interested in physical activities and girls. They may also find it difficult to sustain heterosexual relationships when they reach the stage of puberty (Hetheringhton 1972).
Research shows that children raised by homosexual single mothers develop gender roles just as normally as children of heterosexual single mothers do (Green 1983). Also, children brought up by lesbian parents do not differ from those reared by heterosexual single parents when it comes to their gender roles.
Sigmund Freud, who is the father of psychoanalytic theory, implies that the effect of divorce on a child is greater when it happens during the early stage in the parents’ relationship. This is the period when the identification stage requires the presence of both parents. If children stay with their mothers after divorce, boys tend to suffer most as they lack male role models and may end up with a confused identity.
Freud’s concept takes it for granted that gender role identification in children is already predetermined in a child body immediately after conception. The unconscious conflict between their fears and desires tries to shape their behaviours. He depended very much on observation and imitation rather than looking at external forces surrounding the child.
6. SOCIAL LEARNING THEORY OF THE DEVELOPMENT OF GENDER
Behaviour is seen as a social construct through reinforcement and punishment, modelling and observation. The individual learns to modify their behaviour in line with their expectation. Gender role is seen to be achieved by shaping towards male or female gender appropriate behaviours, for example, boys reinforced for aggression and punished for dependency, whereas girls are punished for aggression and rewarded for dependency (Smith and Lloyd, 1978). However, women these days do not solely depend on men to provide them with everything; they also engage in activities which help them to move forward without depending on men.
Sex appropriate behaviour can also be learned from observing and imitating same sex role models (Tuner1995). Children learn by observing others, modelling their particular types of behaviour. For instance, children will copy the behaviour of their parents like dressing, eating and talking. When they learn such behaviour it becomes part of their life. Some models might be more important than others. For example, children who like football will want to live a lifestyle that is more or less the same as that of David Beckham’s, including his hair cut, dressing and talking. The influence of similar model generates gender related behaviours. Albert Bandura (1969-1986) noted that in order for modelling to take place, there must be some favourable factors present. This includes: