Are Men Becoming the New Women?

Dear Mr. Dad: A few days ago, I was talking to my 11-year old son about needing to take responsibility for his behavior, and I told him to “Man up.” I started thinking about that phrase and wondered about all the gender stereotyping we do without even realizing it. Are expressions like Man up harmless parts of the language?

A: You’re right. We do use a lot of sex stereotypes in our everyday speech, most of the time without realizing it. Sometimes even the most gender-neutral phrases carry a strong stereotyped message. In most cases, the words are harmless, but other times they’re dangerous.
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Fighting in front of the Kids

My wife and I-like most couples-have our share of disagreements on how to parent. One of the things we’ve been disagreeing on lately is whether or not it’s okay to fight in front of the kids. I think it will teach our children how to compromise. My wife thinks it will scar them for life. What do you think?

Parenting approaches are the source of just about as many marital spats as money and division of labor. Ideally, you should avoid having huge fights in front of your children. Kids are scared and confused when their parents yell at each other, and researchers have found that the angrier the parents, the more distressed the children.
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Children with Special Needs

My wife and I have a child with a number of special needs. Although we both love our child very much, there’s no question that parenting him has taken a toll on our marriage and the rest of the family (we have other children). Interestingly, my wife and I respond to the stress very differently. Is there anything we can do to reduce the tension, as well as improve our relationship as a couple, so our entire family is happier?

It’s nearly impossible to get accurate data on disabilities, but conservatively speaking, around 15 percent of preschool and school-age children in the US have one or more "chronic conditions." These could be anything from asthma and autism to cancer and cerebral palsy.
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The Importance of Father Involvement in the Schools

My child’s school often sends out emails asking for moms to volunteer in the classroom or around the school. A lot of these communications talk about how important it is for mothers to be involved in their children’s education. As a father, I find this a little annoying, and I’m wondering whether you know of any evidence that dads’ involvement is important too?

There’s a mountain of research that shows a direct connection between parents’ involvement in their children’s education and their kids’ performance in school. In short, the more the parents are involved, the better the kids do. But in many schools (and in many families), the word "parents" really means "mom." That’s a big mistake. There are a number of benefit that are specifically related to father involvement. When dads are involved, their children.
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Debunking the Mozart Effect

We are parents of two kids, 6 and 8, and our closest friends have kids the exact same ages. These friends swear that they can increase their children’s IQ by playing certain kinds of music. I think they’re full of it. But could they possibly be right? Does music actually increase a child’s intelligence?

Remember the Mozart Effect’the wildly popular idea that listening to music by Mozart would boost children’s IQ? Don Campbell, who took the Effect out of the lab and into the shopping mall, sells all sorts of products that supposedly will make your child smarter. Turns out, though, that the Mozart Effect does nothing of the kind (although that hasn’t stopped Campbell and others from making a ton of money).
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Single-Sex Education

A few years ago our daughter was having trouble in school. On the advice of friends, we sent her to an all-girls school, where she has thrived. Now, our son is starting to have problems and we’re wondering whether an all-boys school would be good for him. Is single-sex education as good for boys as it is for girls?

When people think of single-sex schools they usually have girls in mind. As you discovered on your own, girls in girls-only schools tend to do better than those in co-ed schools. What about boys? Well, not many people know about it, but the results are similar: boys in boys-only schools do much better than boys in co-ed. In fact the bump kids get from single-sex schools is even greater for boys than it is for girls, according to an exhaustive study by English researcher Graham Able.
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