It’s a sad reality that many people still tend to gravitate towards the idea that a deeper, better understanding of the challenges of parenthood is something important only to girls – to the future mothers of the next generation. Unfortunately, boys are still often overlooked and remain uneducated when it comes to their roles in the family, and when it comes to what being a father entails. Notions from the previous generations of a father’s only responsibility being “to bring home the bacon” still persist, and children continue to suffer for it today.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there appears to be a “father factor” in almost all the social problems the country is facing. That is, data from three waves of the Fragile Families study showed that children growing up with both a mother and a father exhibited higher chances of success in fields they took up, as well as lower chances of incarceration or falling into drug abuse. However, it’s not so much about father being physically absent from the equation – rather, it’s an emotional absenteeism that can truly affect a child.
Parental empathy is a key concept that is taught through RealCare Training, and it’s something that young boys are most in need of understanding. As Kate Pietrasik, founder of Tootsa, a company that creates unisex clothes in hopes of eliminating gender barriers, explains in one of her blog posts, "As boys find themselves “within this narrow definition of masculinity, relating with toughness, stoicism, and physical and sexual prowess, they may hide those parts of themselves that they perceive as too tender, and even too smart. As a result, boys may act less empathetic, less supportive, and less close than they actually feel or want to be.” From an early age, boys are taught to be dominant, and there is far less effort placed into teaching them to care for others and empathize, and in the long run, this creates fathers much less prepared to deal with caring for their children, who then raise children who are also unable to empathize. It’s a cycle that needs to be broken.
There are many ways to help build empathy in younger boys, from playing with dolls to playing pretend, and because this allows them to put themselves in the shoes of others, it helps them develop a greater understanding for the needs and feelings of other people. RealCare Training takes things a notch higher for older children, allowing them to understand and prepare for what it means to be a parent, to think of something beyond themselves and hopefully learn that parenting is about caring for something more than their own well-being. It should also help them understand the sacrifices made by their own parents, and become more appreciative.