scientific study done in the Philippines suggests that men who become fathers have hormonal changes that may help them to adapt to their new role - i.e., they have a drop in testosterone upon becoming fathers. That should come as good news to those of us who already know that men can and do make excellent, nurturing parents, and who envision a world of increasing gender equity, both at work and at home.
Gender stereotypes and prejudices, backed by faulty biological assumptions, have inevitably resulted from thousands of years of history in a predominantly patriarchal culture (with fathers in the bread-winning role and mothers in the primary parenting role), and they continue to stand in the way of men in search of parenting equity at home, even as women have made tremendous strides in the workplace over the past fifty years. This scientific study provides hope to the optimist in me that parenting equity and equality in the home will eventually catch up to, and parallel, the rapidly advancing workplace equality women have achieved, and are continuing to achieving, both in this country and throughout the developed world.
New York Times: In Study, Fatherhood Leads to Drop in Testosterone, excerpt:
This is probably not the news most fathers want to hear.
Testosterone, that most male of hormones, takes a dive after a man becomes a parent. And the more he gets involved in caring for his children — changing diapers, jiggling the boy or girl on his knee, reading “Goodnight Moon” for the umpteenth time — the lower his testosterone drops.
So says the first large study measuring testosterone in men when they were single and childless and several years after they had children. Experts say the research has implications for understanding the biology of fatherhood, hormone roles in men and even health issues like prostate cancer.
“The real take-home message,” said Peter Ellison, a professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard who was not involved in the study, is that “male parental care is important. It’s important enough that it’s actually shaped the physiology of men.”
“Unfortunately,” Dr. Ellison added, “I think American males have been brainwashed” to believe lower testosterone means that “maybe you’re a wimp, that it’s because you’re not really a man.
“My hope would be that this kind of research has an impact on the American male. It would make them realize that we’re meant to be active fathers and participate in the care of our offspring.”
The study, experts say, suggests that men’s bodies evolved hormonal systems that helped them commit to their families once children were born. It also suggests that men’s behavior can affect hormonal signals their bodies send, not just that hormones influence behavior. And, experts say, it underscores that mothers were meant to have child care help.
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