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The Biology of Fatherhood

(114 Posts)
IdaBWells Tue 13-Aug-19 18:22:31

Fatherhood is a relatively new field of study, but so far studies of biological fathers living with their biological children have shown to lessen aggression in both sons and daughters. Having her biological father in the home also seems to postpone a daughter becoming sexually active and decrease a daughter’s likelihood in engaging in risky sexual behaviour.

Here is an interesting article

I think it’s important to look at the biology of fatherhood so we can acknowledge the biological differences in both men and women and how their unique physical presence can have a protective and positive effective on children’s outcomes.

MockerstheFeManist Tue 13-Aug-19 18:24:30


Freud and Jung had plenty to say on the subject.

IdaBWells Tue 13-Aug-19 18:28:06

The difference is scientific studies rather than just theories. If we want to affirm the importance of female biology then surely we should Ben saying the same of men. Our bodies count.

MIdgebabe Tue 13-Aug-19 18:35:14

HOw can you differentiate between the biological effects and the effects caused by children interacting with people who have experiancd different socialisation ?

AnyOldPrion Tue 13-Aug-19 18:52:15

I was thinking the same Midge. Families where the parents stay together have a degree of stability and will include the families where the parents actually get on and can manage to parent together. That must have an effect on the average behaviour of the children. Surely common sense could tell you this.

MirrorMouse Tue 13-Aug-19 18:57:10

If that is true, Ida, then why do the children of lesbian parents do as well as the children of straight couples?

IdaBWells Tue 13-Aug-19 19:05:18

I am just asking, if we say female biology is important why cannot we say the same for men? In terms of other biases that’s obviously down to the design of the study.

MirrorMouse I did not indicate that any kind of parenting is better than another, just that biology has an effect. Why the reluctance to talk about biology? Of course it’s not the whole story but not talking enough about biology has meant gender ideology has swept the world with very little challenge. I am just interested in these questions.

Goosefoot Tue 13-Aug-19 19:09:29

If that is true, Ida, then why do the children of lesbian parents do as well as the children of straight couples?

It might be that there is no difference, but I don't know that I generally trust studies intended to make these kinds of comparisons. It's too vague a concept and there are too many choices about what "do as well as" means.

Goosefoot Tue 13-Aug-19 19:15:18

OP - it doesn't surprise me that people are reluctant to talk about possibilities like this. As much as most want to be clear about the differences between the sexes, I find most also become very uncomfortable when that starts to look at behaviour, effects on parenting, or really anything that might impact something else they think is important.

For what it's worth I am sure family stability is a reason for this, but I also think there are probably other factors. Having a positive relationship with a man, a positive role model, is probably an important factor. Anecdotally I also think men tend to parent a little differently than women and it's positive to be exposed to that.

I also wonder if a significant factor might be that in households where there is no father, there might tend to be a series of boyfriends. Boyfriends are less likely to be positive than fathers for a number of reasons, and I also think most kids don't benefit from seeing their parents have a series of relationships, even if the people are perfectly nice.

SpartacusAutisticus Tue 13-Aug-19 19:18:31

This is a fascinating research study on how fatherhood reduces testosterone in men:

MirrorMouse Tue 13-Aug-19 19:22:13

Ida - you seemed to be saying that the respect in which male biology was important was parenting outcomes. I was saying in response to that,that lesbian parents' children do as well as straight couples' children

Goosefoot, there have been a lot of studies over several decades looking at a lot of children and a lot of different ways to measure parenting outcomes including psychological wellbeing. In what sort of respects constituting "doing as well" do you suspect that children of lesbian parents would suffer?

donquixotedelamancha Tue 13-Aug-19 19:26:04

why do the children of lesbian parents do as well as the children of straight couples?

I think the OP is mixing up correlation and causation. Everything Ida said may be true but that does not mean that the presence of a Dad in itself has a positive effect. There are lots of models of good parenting and Science is not going to be able to tell us some gold standard- it doesn't work like that.

If we want to affirm the importance of female biology then surely we should Ben saying the same of men. Our bodies count.

Some biological mothers horribly abuse their kids. Many non-biological parents do a fantastic job. Sharing genes means nothing about being a good parent. Lets not mix up 'usual' with 'best'.

Goosefoot Tue 13-Aug-19 19:26:33

"there have been a lot of studies over several decades looking at a lot of children and a lot of different ways to measure parenting outcomes including psychological wellbeing. In what sort of respects constituting "doing as well" do you suspect that children of lesbian parents would suffer?"

I have no idea. If we had some good information on the effects fathers have on kids, it might be possible to speculate.

IdaBWells Tue 13-Aug-19 19:44:30

We all know there are horrible parents, male and female. Our course high quality parenting will be better for kids, but then we have to define what that is. I just find it interesting that it’s the presence of the biological father that helps, you can switch out another male but biology helps. There are constant threads on here with stepmothers struggling to connect in the same way with kids who are not their biological offspring. There is a general understanding and empathy that it can be harder to bond with children when they are not yours biologically. So why can’t we discuss that as it pertains to men? Having their biological father living with them (obviously if he’s not abusive) seems to have a protective effect on girls and increases boys and girls IQ by age two. If we were saying that about biological mothers it would be completely uncontroversial.

MIdgebabe Tue 13-Aug-19 19:56:47

Because it’s not obvious that it’s anything to do with biology.

AND it’s not obvious a feminism issue

As soon as the biological father is replaced, family stability has been destroyed . You can not separate biology easily. I think it is less controversial to say that children need to form good human bonds before the age of two which is why adoption of older children can be problematical. J

A much more interesting question about male biology might be if violence is purely socialisation or horm9nally influenced.

IdaBWells Tue 13-Aug-19 20:19:41

Well as fatherhood lowers testosterone a good father seems to have children (boys and girls) who are less aggressive and protects girls from early sexual relationships and against choosing risky sexual behavior. I think it is a Feminist issue because a majority of women have children and many are in a permanent relationship with the father, therefore exploring how to have positive outcomes from these relationships whether with the mother, daughters or sons would seem productive. We are well aware of all the negative ways male biology can affect women, can’t we look at building on something good? By ignoring men’s presence in families and what happens if they are biologically related seems shortsighted. I have two teen DDs and I have been married to their dad for 23 years so I have skin in this game. I want to also be able to tell my 13 yr old son how his presence is important to his children in the future.

I think we all know why male parenting was ignored and not studied in the past, because they’re was an assumption that the mother had the most impact on the child and “parenting” was synonymous with mothering. I want to be part of a feminism that acknowledges that I am married with children, are a large percentage of women. In what ways are our partnerships helpful for children? We can speculate and theorize but I am glad to see fatherhood is being seriously studied.

Also it will encourage men to be active fathers if evidence shows HOW their presence helps their children.

EndoplasmicReticulum Tue 13-Aug-19 20:35:35

I'm not impressed with the original article in OP as it's hard to find the sources - a lot of the links just go to more articles on the same site and those that do go somewhere don't take me to scientific studies like the one SpartacusAutisticus linked to. I don't see masses of "biology" in that first article.

IdaBWells Tue 13-Aug-19 20:40:16

OK I am just opening up the discussion. I just don’t see why we wouldn’t discount the importance of biology in motherhood but not fatherhood.

OrchidInTheSun Tue 13-Aug-19 20:43:25

I suspect most absent fathers don't give a shit one way or another if their presence has a positive effect on their children,research or no research.

What we know more than anything is that children thrive in loving homes where there is an absence of violence and conflict.

I don't see how this is anything to do with feminism. Many women already fight desperately to keep their families together despite their husbands being utter arseholes because of the stigma of 'broken' families and because they tell themselves their partner is a 'good dad' because he doesn't smack them about. The bar is set terribly low as it is.

IdaBWells Tue 13-Aug-19 20:45:14

Sorry that was a bit garbled! I am checking this in the middle of a busy day. Why is biology something people don’t want to look at? I know my husband who taught medicine says that there are questions researchers are not allowed to ask when it could potentially disrupt a popular narrative. We have clearly seen this with the trans issue.

areyoureadytobestrong Tue 13-Aug-19 20:47:13

I don’t understand how the alleged positive observations in the children are anything to do with the father’s biology.

I’m more than happy to talk about the realities of Male biology (their narrow hips and facial hair, etc) but this seems to be more about something else.

MIdgebabe Tue 13-Aug-19 20:49:20

actullay not sure what discussions you are referring to when you talk about the importance of women’s biology to motherhood ...beyond the pure biology of conception birth and feeding ...and I am sure everyone’s here understands the Male input

IdaBWells Tue 13-Aug-19 20:51:36

Orchid then why not ask the questions so we can teach our sons this information and improve life for future generations of kids? I’m surprised by the reaction, I can see this is going nowhere. I will continue the conversation off line as I know a few ppl IRL who are very interested in these questions.

areyoureadytobestrong Tue 13-Aug-19 20:57:41

You’ve just muddled up two things OP that’s all.
It’s a perfectly respectable question to ask whether children benefit from having a father in the house.But I don’t think this article is a great starting point. Someone who can write “ the importance of dads has, until recently, been neglected” is historically illiterate (to put it gently....)

EndoplasmicReticulum Tue 13-Aug-19 21:02:18

Ida I'd love to look at Biology. It's my favourite. But that first article isn't it.

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