Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Science of Fatherhood (NPR)

This is an excellent NPR show on the science of becoming a father, and how current science has ignored or overlooked the important role of fathers.

This originally on The Daily Circuit from Minnesota Public Radio.

The science of fatherhood

The Daily Circuit · Aug 4, 2014

A picture taken April 21, 2006 shows Berlin, Germany resident Nicolas W. changing his 8-month-old daughter at home. JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images

Listen: Story audio

39min 13sec

  • Dr Eli J Finkel: Professor of psychology and of management and organizations at Northwestern University
  • Paul Raeburn: Author of "Do Fathers Matter?" chief media critic at the Knight Science Journalism Tracker and blogger at About Fathers for Psychology Today
Parenting is hard work - we've always known that. There are major biological and life changes that occur when you welcome a baby into your home.

Social scientists, however, have been taking a new look at the experience of parenthood. In an article Dr Eli J Finkel in The New York Times, he said the biological changes that a man faces when he becomes a father have long been overlooked:
Although many parents happily take to their new role, millions every year respond with despair. According to a 2010 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, among new parents -- three to six months postpartum -- 42 percent of mothers and 26 percent of fathers exhibit signs of clinical depression. In a longitudinal study reported earlier this year in the journal Pediatrics, men on average experienced significant increases in depressive symptomatology across the first five years of fatherhood (if and only if they lived with their child). Indeed, in the years after becoming a parent, both men and women experience significant reductions in their overall level of satisfaction with their lives, according to a 2008 paper in The Economic Journal.
Author Paul Raeburn says that beyond the initial transition of becoming a father, science frequently omits the role a father plays in a child's life - be it the role of a sperm donor, a bread winner, a primary caretaker or a relationship that doesn't fit into one category.

Finkel and Raeburn join The Daily Circuit to discuss how becoming a father impacts a man, and what role a father plays in a child's life.

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