Fatherhood could alter men’s behavior

Recent research finds that new fathers exhibit hormonal changes and, in turn, alter their behavior, which suggests that having children influences men in far-reaching ways.

“We’re finding that (fatherhood) does have mental health, well-being and actual physical health benefits,” says David DeGarmo, a research scientist at the non-profit Oregon Social Learning Center in Eugene.

DeGarmo is lead author of an 18-month study of 230 divorced fathers of kids ages 4-11 that was published in 2010 in the American Journal of Men’s Health. It found that when a father was more involved with his kids, “he had better health, drank less and had lower substance use.”

Other recent findings have shown that “fatherhood prompts men to be less self-centered, more giving and more outward-focused. It can prompt them to be more responsible and become more mature, especially to temper some of their risks,” says Richard Settersten Jr., professor of human development and family sciences at Oregon State University in Corvallis. He says involved fathering promotes “more positive attachments and relationships.”

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