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New research study reveals biological changes in men when they become fathers

In a recent study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences it appears male testosterone levels are lowered after the birth of a child. It appears, as men spend more time caring for their children, their levels of testosterone decrease. From my reading of the article it appears that a reduction in our testosterone allows us to be less aggressive and more emotionally available to form attachments with our children. 

Peter Ellison, a professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University commented on the study, “The real take-home message is that male parental care is important. It’s important enough that it’s actually shaped the physiology of men.”

For a short synopsis of the study read Pam Belluck from the NY Times published September 12th, 2011.



Making the transition to fatherhood

As parents, time is our most valuable resource, our most precious commodity. Think about it: we work all our lives so we can retire; in other words, so we can do what we want with our time. The way we define, or spend our time, defines who we are and what we value.

Our society sets values on what we do with our time. I have always been offended by the policy in the United States that if you work and put your kids in childcare, you get a tax credit. But, if you stay at home with your children or work part time there is no tax credit. What we say in the U.S. is that we value only your “time” spent working. How deep the message is in our country that parenting is not a priority.

We do not need to be locked in a battle between time spent working or time spent parenting. Both work time and family time sustain us in very important ways. We gain unique satisfactions from both. And there are practical matters to consider as well: we need money to live and our children are only little for such a short time. How will we prioritize our choices?

As fathers how we choose to prioritize our time is very difficult. The undercurrent in our society is still that our identity as men is linked to our work. Although this is changing, the esteem men feel around their careers is still rewarded financially and in status more than their time spent parenting. Also it is still accepted that the money a man makes is the way he is “supportive” to his family.

Most of the expectant and new fathers I work with are terribly conflicted by wanting to spend time with their young children and the financial pressures. Even when both parents work, dads, as well as moms want more time with their young children. I think we have a much larger social problem then we are aware of in terms of the emotional cost to both parents and young children when it comes to “time” in the early years of parenthood.

From my perspective as a Family Therapist, it is easy to understand that the changes couples and babies go through in the first year of life depends on having the necessary “time” to form the attachments that will normally occur. Yet, we do little as a society to “protect” this time for parents or children. Pressures mount quickly for parents to get back to work. I am not saying that every couple should stay home with their new baby. What I am proposing is that, especially in the early years, there is a need for flexibility in regards to time, so that fathers, mothers and baby can feel they have enough time to get to know each other. It takes time to come to a personal understanding of what parenthood and family life means for each of us as individuals.

View a short video on “Making the Transition to Fatherhood”

The Key to a Successful Marriage

We often focus on getting our wives or partners to change so we can be happy. Becoming the best person we can — rather than trying to change our partners — is the real key to a loving relationship. What’s more, difficulties and disagreements are opportunities for us to become a more caring person — to take complete responsibility, both on the practical aspect of how we deal with the conflict, and also how we “choose” or decide to view our lives.

When we shift perspective away from “changing” the one we love to accepting them — to recognizing how much our wives/partners contribute, care for and love us, that will help with our frustrations. Even if our partners view certain situations differently then we would prefer, it is possible to uphold a loving view of what our marriage truly means.

Especially when we’re angry if we focus on the well meaning, kindness of our loved one then our anger will diminish. This is not a miracle; it’s simply the way things work at the level of positive and negative thinking. Recent research in brain science proves that by thinking of the positive aspect of why we chose our partner; it actually stimulates our brain in a way that we feel better!

If you have married or are with a loving caring, loyal partner…that is as good as it gets! If they do things and understanding things differently than you, that is normal!  Try to keep this in perspective…the things that our wives do that upset us can help us keep developing and growing as a person. (Now, if you are married to a ill willed, mean and angry spouse, someone who wants to hurt…then you should be thinking about doing something else!)

If you keep experiencing the same relationship problems over and over again, it’s because you haven’t realized where the real problem lies. You’re still waiting for others to change without really working on the aspects of yourself that you need to transform.

Good luck! Here is a video from the Fathers’ Forum on Wives and Mothers