Even with all these successes, the federal policy has remained unchanged since Clinton signed it a quarter-century ago. The United States still holds the unenviable title of being the only industrialized country that does not offer all of its citizens paid family leave. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 14% of civilian workers had access to paid leave in 2016, and that's only thanks to state laws or employer largess.
When Dads demonstrate the belief that they offer value to the world — by letting life live through them, by acknowledging their weaknesses but not allowing the difficulty to impede the expansion of their being, by not staying stuck in a victim mindset — they offer their daughters a model of what it means to value one’s self.
Boys themselves should feel empowered. Boys who have a good sense of self are less likely to seek fulfillment in unhealthy ways, Rubin said. “We have to raise them to like themselves, and to do that, we have to treat them with love and respect,” he said. “We have to appreciate their uniqueness. We need to validate their feelings; we need to empathize with their pain.”
Of the many American women dismayed by the wave of sexual misconduct scandals, there’s a subgroup with distinctive hopes and fears: mothers of boys. Among them are women who have sought to raise their sons, sometimes from infancy, to shun sexist mindsets and be respectful of girls. Yet even some of these mothers worry about countervailing peer pressure their sons might face. And there’s uncertainty as to whether their sons’ generation, as adult men, will be less likely to perpetrate or condone sexual misconduct.
When we teach boys that there are “boy’s toys” and “girl’s toys,” and that they ought to complain if they get the wrong one, we teach them gender-based entitlement. When we teach girls that it’s okay to play with toys designed for boys and to dress in clothes designed for boys, but we teach boys that it’s wrong for them to wear dresses or play with “girl’s toys,” we erase girls from social relevance. Ultimately, it becomes easier for companies to just make what boys and men are willing to use, because girls and women will be willing to use them, too.
Read to your kids on a wide variety of people and stories that break that stereotypical image about boys saving the world or that the girl needs a hero to be save her. Talk about why women are always shown wearing aprons and baking or why the men are always portrayed as carrying briefcases to work. If we don’t help the children now, they will grow up with these notions that will solidify later in life.
As calls to end the gendered marketing of toys have gained momentum in recent years — the White House hosted a conference on toys and gender just before President Barack Obama left office, and the U.K.’s Let Toys Be Toys campaign has convinced 14 companies to remove gender labels — each step forward has been hotly debated. Fighting for change are parents who want to see a world in which toys come in a rainbow of colours and are divided by interest and age, rather than gender.
They talk about how poor dad is going to go broke with so many girls in the house, because all girls love to shop. And, of course, girls are naturally going to emasculate, manipulate, and henpeck the father of the family — just being around so many girls is going to sap the manliness right out of him. Essentially, this version of "poor dad" purports that every obnoxious stereotype about women and girls is true.
Regardless of whether gender differences in adult behavior arise from conscious or unconscious psychological processes, one thing is clear: boys grow up in a world inhabited by a narrower range of emotions, one in which their experiences of anger are noticed, inferred, and potentially even cultivated. This leaves other emotions—particularly the more vulnerable emotions—sorely ignored or missing in their growing minds.