Father’s day is celebrated on the third Sunday of June every year. It’s a day to honour fathers and enumerate their special qualities.
There are two stories of how this day came into being. According to some, it was first celebrated in Washington in the year 1910 by a woman named Sonora Dodd. Her father, a widower, was a Civil War veteran who raised 6 children by himself. It was during the Mother’s day sermon that this idea of honouring fathers, especially those as passionate as hers, came to Sonora’s mind. Going by the other version, a young woman named Grace Golden Clayton suggested to the minister of her local church in West Virginia that they hold services in order to celebrate and honour the fathers, including her own father, who lost their lives in a mine explosion killing 361 men.
Whatever be the case, our dads are the one friend upon whom we can always rely. Today’s fathers no longer play the dogmatic role of a breadwinner and authoritative figure in the families. Breaking the old stereotypical image, a father can be married, divorced or single, gay, non-binary or straight, adoptive or step, and willing to provide for the needs of his child.
We always talk about how fathers make our lives wonderful and how compassionate their love is. Were you aware that just like mothers, fathers too go through physical and emotional changes? Raising a child is a life-altering experience for both the parents and there are many transformations that new fathers go through. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
The Birth Of A Father
1. Hormonal Changes
Human males are among the mere 10 per cent of mammals that provide direct care to their offspring. There are many studies that have proven that men undergo a series of hormonal changes somewhat akin to that of women during pregnancy. These hormonal alterations called Couvade syndrome can be linked to the proximity and empathy of the father towards the expecting mother or the anticipatory anxiety of becoming a parent. The symptoms of Couvade syndrome or ‘sympathetic pregnancy’ can range from fluctuation in appetite and weight to sleep disorders and even morning sickness.
Another aspect of hormonal variations happens to fathers post the birth of their child. It has also been noted that fathers experience about a one-third drop in their testosterone and cortisol levels. This dip reduces the risk-taking behaviour in men significantly making them less aggressive and more tender-hearted.
Postpartum depression among mothers is well-known. But did you know that fathers can get affected by it too? Studies have found that men too suffer from postpartum depression. Read more about it in this article.
2. The Maternal Feeling
We’ve long known that oxytocin, the love hormone, plays an eminent role in the mother’s initial bonding with her child after birth. Recent research has observed that the same oxytocin spike takes place in the father’s body as well, promoting altruism and empathy.
According to the study by Lee Gettler, an anthropologist at the University of Notre Dame, men also experience a rise in prolactin, commonly known as the lactation hormone that helps mothers breastfeed their babies. However, its purpose is far beyond that. Apart from facilitating the decrease in testosterone level in men, this hormone encourages motherly affection in fathers that make them responsive and sensitive towards their child. Fathers have also proven their ‘paternal instincts’ to be at par with the maternal ones. They are able to identify their own child’s cry among that of others and cater to their specific needs.
However, the intensity of all these hormonal effects depends on the amount of time the fathers spend with their children. Skin-to-skin contact has been given special importance to the father-child bonding relationship.
3. Brain Rewiring
Taking care of a child and spending time with them reshapes a father’s brain. The cognitive pattern and emotional engagement of a father who actively participates in childcare make the brain function in a gentle and nourishing manner.
In addition, the birth of their child produces new neurons in a male’s brain. The new sets of neurons help the fathers become situationally aware and thus, be better equipped to raise the child better.
Being A Dad
Parenting comes with no handbook and the only way one learns is through experience. We must admit that fatherhood is not all fun and games and comes with its own set of struggles. It puts a man into a completely new role where his priorities undergo a major shift. A man who would never miss a sports match now has to compromise for his baby. Time management is another issue. A child, be it a baby or a teenager, will ask for your time and attention. Your day is mostly occupied with either work or your child which may instil a feeling of being disconnected from your own self and even your partner. If you ever happen to give precedence to yourself over your child or miss your child’s special occasions, the guilt that follows will make you question your entire values system. Along with physical and emotional turmoils, raising a child put strains on your finances as well for which one must be prepared. When the child grows up, there are issues like generation and communication gaps that may seep into your relationship and make the natural bond go sour.
Here are 4 easy ways to help you strengthen the incomparable friendship you both deserve and desire!
1. Practice what you preach
Henry George, an American economist and journalist has said “your child will follow your example, not your advice”. It is scientifically proven that humans retain more of what they see than what they hear. We want our children to be the people we couldn’t be. We are always there to help them with our suggestions, even when they’re unasked for! However, have you ever wondered what our children may think if they see our actions do not align with your words? The watchful eyes of our children pick up everything. Their ears are listening, and their eyes are locked on us every moment. So next time you wish to give an example to your child, be one. Remember, actions speak louder than words.
2. Keep in touch with what occupies their mind
When our child is growing up they encounter various things in and around them. This could range from a new hobby and interest to physical or emotional changes. Make sure you’re approachable to them. Being a fun-loving dad is different from the one a child can go to when they need help. Strike the right balance between the different parts you play to your child. Have conversations where you also ask them for suggestions as this would encourage them to do the same. Identify or establish common areas of interest and try not to compromise on that. Show interest in what’s happening in their life. Having said that, be careful not to infringe on their privacy and give them the required space for a healthy relationship.
3. Let them explore
Being protective of your young ones is a natural instinct. However, you should remember to not overshadow your child. We must never force our choices or preferences on our children. Yes, the fact remains true that as parents we have more experience and always wish the best for our children but we should also let the child have experiences of their own. We, as parents, should not protect them from falling but instead help them get up, brush themselves up and rise again. Our experiences should help our children know the world better when they set out to explore it themself.
4. Take care of your health
The different stages of your child’s life demand you to be fit. Be it the sleepless nights when they’re a baby or running after them when they learn to crawl or training them for a sport, all require your health to be in good shape. We don’t realise it, but these small episodes are what life is made up of. Common experiences like these can remain wrapped up in your and your child’s memory list only because your health didn’t support you. Missing out on such moments can do irrevocable damage to the relationship that you and your kids share. Today’s lifestyle and dietary habits have increased the risk of various conditions like diabetes, obesity, etc.
However, making small changes to our daily routine can do wonders for us. Keep yourself physically active. Have nutritious food. Get your body checked regularly. The latest comprehensive metabolic panel devised with all new HealthifyPro will help you get a broad medical screening to better understand your health and monitor your bodily functions from time to time. You can also track your food through the calorie tracker, get tips from pro coaches to boost your metabolic health and take the right steps towards a healthy life. HealthifyPro is a complete package that comes with a smart scale to keep a tab on your progress, specialized coaches to give your personalized feedback and smart AI assistance along with the advanced CGM experience at your fingertips.
The Feeling Called Fatherhood
The idea of fatherhood and being a dad has appreciably evolved over the last couple of decades. Fatherly affection and love are more pronounced than it ever was and fathers have opened themselves to be more affable and amicable than before. As said earlier, the idea of dads being a mere supporters in child-rearing is a thing of the past and now they’re seen to be actively sharing the responsibilities and joys of parenthood.
Studies have shown that a father’s positive involvement in a child’s initial years helps build up their cognitive skills and demonstrate an increased capacity for exploration and curiosity. Affectionate and supportive fathers favour a child’s self-confidence and well-being while affecting positive social growth. Children with supportive fathers are less likely to have behaviour and impulse issues. Initiatives like paternal leave further consolidate the image of a modern dad. The Indian Govt. has provisioned 15 days or 2 weeks of paid leave to fathers right after the birth of their child. Private sectors are also taking progressive steps toward celebrating paternity.
Let’s all honour the experience called fatherhood today and all year round! Let us make more dad jokes and make our family smile annoyingly. Let the world know the true meaning of being a daddy. The one who’s his daughter’s first love and his son’s first friend!