The difficulty in telling dad 'I love you'

Story highlights

  • Difficulty expressing emotion toward a father results from socialized gender roles, researchers say
  • As definitions of fatherhood change, so do dads' relationships with their kids
  • Father's Day is an opportunity for dads and kids to grow closer

(CNN)In the days before Father's Day, the messages in the greeting-card aisle are often different from the ones that greet shoppers before Mother's Day.

One of Hallmark's best-selling Father's Day cards reads, "A good {dad} teaches you how to properly swing a hammer. A great {dad} teaches you what to yell when you smash your thumb. Thanks Dad, for all the lessons."
Another says, "Home is where the fart is. Happy Father's Day."
    By contrast, a top-selling Mother's Day card reads, "Happy Mother's Day, to my mom, my hero ... I'm extremely proud of the wonderful woman I know and love as my mom."
    In other words, many Father's Day cards are humorous and emotionally muted, while cards for mothers typically contain explicit messages of love. The difference speaks to the gender stereotypes that have long defined women as nurturers and men as managers who are disconnected from their emotions.