There is a lovely custom to bless the children before the Friday night meal. Boys are blessed to be like Efraim and Menashe, and girls like the Matriarchs.
Why are Efraim and Menashe are the figures we want our sons to emulate more than anyone else?
Hierarchies are very important to family dynamics and structures. It is highly irregular to see “generation jumpers”. From an entire generation of cousins, they alone were considered equivalent to their uncles a generation earlier.
My Zaide explains that to excel as a Jew while born into Egyptian aristocracy is a hard thing. In comparison, it’s easy to be Yakov’s son in Yakov’s house.
Perhaps the blessing is about our hope that our children overcome everything in their way, no matter the odds.
My father explains that part of the family dynamic in the Torah is that brothers jealously compete with each other. The first pair of brothers who get along are Efraim and Menashe. Neither objected when Yaakov crossed his hand, predicting the younger son for greater things. Each was content for himself and for the other.
Perhaps the blessing is about their relationship with family, that they build each other up, instead of tearing each other down.
I like to think it’s both.