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Monday, January 28, 2013

Dads are critical in development of both girls and boys

Traditional dads more likely to raise ‘girlie girls,' says UBC researcher
How fathers act at home appears to shape daughters’ career ambitions
By Randy Shore, Vancouver Sun, in Ottawa Citizen, January 28, 2013Dads who avoid washing the dishes and doing the laundry at home tend to raise “girlie girls,” daughters who prefer dolls and aspire to be housewives, new research reveals.
Daughters are more likely to believe they can grow up to work outside the home if their fathers have egalitarian attitudes about child care, cooking and cleaning the house and actually take on those jobs, said University of B.C. psychologist Toni Schmader, who presented her findings at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology last week.
“You have to talk the talk and walk the walk when it comes to gender stereotypes,” said Schmader. “And what dad says and does matters.”
Rather than emulating the behaviour of fathers who are focused on paid work, girls appear to align their attitudes about male and female gender roles to “complement” their father’s behaviour, Schmader said.
“Girls may be looking at their father not as a model for who they could be, but as a model for who they could be with [as a spouse],” Schmader said.
Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/life/Traditional+dads+more+likely+raise+girlie+girls+says/7880401/story.html#ixzz2JIQYcO5h

Here we read that how Dad's behave matters to the perceptions of their daughters.
In other research, we learn that boys learn the "dominance" model of masculinities from a culture "dominated by male bullies" who shame their young boys into "manly" attitudes, behaviours and beliefs.
And one of the weapons those "dominating males" use in their undeclared warfare is ridicule, and the comparison they use is "girlie" whenever they witness or hear about a male exhibiting attitudes commonly associated with empathy, compassion, and "failure to stand up for yourself" as in the exhortation, "Hit him back when he hits you, so he will learn his lesson!"....
In both cases, the description of the negative, "girlie" is applied both to young girls who choose to play with barbies, and young boys who exhibit attitudes, actions and beliefs that run "counter" to a stereotype of healthy masculinity.
If ever we are to begin to transform the culture in which young boys are raised, we are going to have to confront the masculine culture that abhors anything smacking of "weakness" (physical, emotional, or mental) that it witnesses in young male children.
And only men are eligible as agents applying for that role.
Women need not apply! It is, after all, women who oversubscribe to the notion of telling their young boys, when injured or bullied, "Don't cry! Be a man!" in some kind of knee-jerk response to what they believe all men want to both hear and to witness in their offspring. And, when the father discovers his son has been bullied, he immediately directs his son to "go after the xxx-xx-x-xxxxx!"
In the last few decades, female identity has dominated the North American culture, premised on the notion that too many women are not earning wages for similar and identical work as their male peers.
Identity, however, has so many nuanced aspects, which include, of course, the rate of pay of men and women.
However, masculine identity, equally if not more complex, than that of females, merits at least equal time, attention, dollars and public debate as that dedicated to the healthy growth and development of women.
Young men compromise, too often, in order to comply with what they consider "binding rules" of what a healthy male looks like, does, thinks and believes. And both their mothers and their fathers, with differing words and looks, perhaps, but nevertheless both consciously and unconsciously, induce, embed, indoctrinate and acculturate their young boys into a pressurized kind of confusion.
In order to be a healthy male, both experience and research tell us, that support for authentic feelings expressed when felt, and supported by both parents, is conducive to the development of a healthy young man.
However, too many fathers, uncles, grandfathers and community leaders (male) suffer from something new to the vocabulary of studies in masculinities: "alexithymic," (stoic) literally "no words for feelings"
And, of course, unfortunately, they pass their condition on to their male children. Harry Brod, in the introduction to Brothers Keepers, New Perspectives on Jewish Masculinity, writes these words:
..."restrictive emotionality is one of the hallmarks, and one of the most damaging outcomes, of traditional masculinity, signifying a "not feminine" constraint that boys enforce mercilessly on each other throughout boyhood's playgrounds, school hallways, and locker rooms. Males adhere to this crippling standard to such an extent that they are typified as stoic or "alexithymic," literally "no words for feelings" (Levant, 1995) Lane and Pollerman (2002) have identified opportunities to encode emotional experiences with language, in actual communication, as fundamental to the development of emotional intelligence. In their view, alexithymia represents "a developmental deficit consisting of a relative absence of emotional experience" (Land and Pollerman, p. 284*) so that children fail to develop nuanced awareness of, or vocabulary for, their feelings. In this sense, boys' normative deprivation in the realm of emotional communication may be the most costly outcome of the dominant masculine paradigm.
*(Lane, R.D. & Pollerman, B.Z. (2002). Complexity of emotional representations. In L.F. Barrett & P. Salovey (eds.) The wisdom of feelings (pp.271-296). New York: Guilford Press

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