What happens when a man becomes a dad?
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Going Gaga1 of 9
By Ethan Youngerman
Everyone knows that becoming a father is a life-changing event. Now science is catching up to popular wisdom, with scholars quantifying how, exactly, becoming a dad changes a man. I am not one of those scholars. I am also not a father. But I've been keenly and objectively studying my male father friends in their natural habitats. Read on to discover how my findings square with the latest studies on fatherhood.
Hormonal Havoc2 of 9
A recent scientific study from Northwestern University has discovered that after a man becomes a dad, his testosterone levels go down. Less testosterone means less aggression, but it also means less sex drive. My own unscientific studies have confirmed that dads in their 20s and 30s are less likely to talk inappropriately about hot women, a result, perhaps, of lower testosterone and higher respect for women's bodies. Ogling (even at pretty moms at the playground) also seems to suffer a statistically significant decline.
Go Team!3 of 9
There have been no studies establishing a link between fatherhood and a decreased attachment to athletic teams. Indeed, I observed one recent father over a series of Monday nights this past fall (also Sunday afternoons), and while his sex drive may have been lower—as evidenced by his not even noticing our waitress—his desire for his team to drive and score a touchdown seemed, if anything, enhanced. Hypothesis: With fewer masculine "outlets," the remaining ones become more important. On the other hand…
Clean Living4 of 9
There is some scholarship from researchers at Oregon State University on the link between becoming a dad and breaking bad habits, with fathers showing a decrease in drinking and smoking rates. Extensive time in The Field (it's the name of my favorite bar) reveals that having a child is largely mutually exclusive with having hard liquor; most of my dad friends have made a noticeable switch to beer. The funny thing is…
Bottoms Up5 of 9
Because my pop pals drink less, when they do drink they get just as hammered as they used to—but from less. Men who could formerly survive a few rounds of bourbon effortlessly are suddenly getting pretty silly when they split a growler five ways around their kitchen table. Implications for further research: This switch from hard alcohol to beer, while a good attempt at being responsible, might also be a contributing factor to the high percentage of fathers with beer bellies. And in truth…
Pound for Pound6 of 9
A recent Scientific American article gathered the research on couvade (the medical term for men experiencing pregnancy symptoms), and up to 80 percent of soon-to-be fathers experience some combination of weight gain, bloating and even nausea. My own experience suggests that at least some of these symptoms are, er, exploited. When a pregnant woman suddenly needs pickles, fruit and iron, I get it. But when my buddy suddenly "has a weird craving for" pepperoni pizza, bacon cheeseburgers and buffalo wings, he's just looking for an excuse to avoid salad. There's good news…
Mr. Softie7 of 9
I've also observed new dads losing a lot of weight. It's probably a result of not sleeping much and the huge amounts of energy these guys are expending to keep their newborns healthy and happy. But Daddy Skinny-Fat is definitely the latest body trend. Co-morbidities include exhaustion, irritability, that glazed look in their eyes, not having any unstained shirts, and not knowing who Gotye is. Which is ironic because…
Smartypants8 of 9
There is an increasing body of research involving fatherhood and the brain. A Princeton University psychologist has studied male marmosets, who, like men, share parenting duties. Father marmosets develop more neurons in their prefrontal cortex than non-fathers do, suggesting that being a dad actually improves memory. To see the proof, look no further than the dads I know. I can barely remember to pay my bills on time, and yet these guys manage to do everything I do, plus they feed, clothe, change and generally keep alive another human being. And yet…
Daddy Amnesia9 of 9
These guys can also be pretty forgetful. I had a friend post the same video of little Johnny "using" an iPhone three separate times. Mostly, though, I've noticed that they forget what it's like not to be a dad, what it's like not to have that adorable little human, who has so much potential and yet is such a mystery, who is so fragile and yet so resilient. The whole world has changed for these guys, and they can only dimly recall their forgetful, testosterone-filled, bourbon-guzzling previous life. Who can blame 'em?
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