Ryan Reynolds re-ignites debate on parenting stereotypes after saying he ‘loves being a girl dad’

Actor Ryan Reynolds recently became a father of three, and it turns out he loves being a so-called “girl dad”.

In an interview with Access Hollywood on Friday – speaking with host Mario Lopez’s children – Reynolds said:

I love being a girl dad. I have three daughters, which I never in a million years would have imagined. I come from all boys. I have three older brothers. I’m the youngest of four boys so for me to have three daughters has been such a ride and I love every second of it.

Reynolds and his wife, Blake Lively, have three daughters: five-year-old James, four-year-old Inez, and Betty, who's one.

He continued:

No joke, they are the most capable people I know. If anything got crazy or scary in my life, they are the first people I would lean on because they have wisdom and strength and they’re calm under fire. They have courage under fire.

I just try to be as present as possible. We don’t split up like I shoot movies and my wife shoots movies and we go travel all over the place and we just all go together. I think that’s been the best part of it is that we really don’t spend a lot of time apart. I get to spend a lot of time with my girls.

His family is especially close, he said, because they make an effort to spend a lot of time together and travel together on movie shoots, whether it's for him or Lively.

The actor received praise for the interview, with people on social media responding “Swoon!”, “cute”, and “I just love this guy”.

But the interview also re-ignited questions about the phrase “girl dad” itself, and whether it has antiquated undertones relating to parenting and gender.

“Having kids is great if that’s what you want no matter the gender,” one person commented on Twitter.

Another person responded with a different perspective, saying: “I think it might have to do with the mistaken belief that a man must have a son in order to be truly happy and complete.”

Questions over the phrase “girl dad” are not new.

When Alexis Ohanian – tennis star Serena Williams’ husband – wore a printed mask with the phrase in September while supporting his wife at the US Open watching with their daughter, some thought it was very charming. While others were concerned it was a problematic label.

The phrase came into popularity after NBA star Kobe Bryant used the expression in an interview: "Girls are the best. I would have five more girls if I could. I'm a girl dad."

It became especially poignant after Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter tragically died in a helicopter crash this past January, which sparked thousands of photos of men with their daughters with the hashtag #GirlDad.

While some would say the existence of #GirlDad transcends the old-fashioned cultural ideal that fathers 'prefer' sons, others think it further entrenches negative gender stereotypes (i.e. the hashtag #BoyDad or #BoyMom would likely never trend).

As one person wrote after the January #GirlDad trend: “Can’t we just be parents? Sure there’s special bonds between all loved ones; why does gender matter? Just love.”

MORE: Why I think emotionally smothering a child is the same as abandoning

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