I believe that when it comes to caring for our children, moms and dads play equally important roles, even if those roles are different. Typically, mothers have a special bond with their baby. I remember feeling that connection both emotionally and physiologically to my own babies from the moment they were born. We’ve believed that this kind of connection is exclusive to females, but what we often think we know isn’t always the reality. According to recent research that appeared in Science Daily, men can also be biologically in tune with their children.
The magic happens when the two sleep near one another. Like a new mom, whose body knows how to synchronize with her newborns’ sleeping and eating patterns, a hormonal change occurs in the father’s body. He experiences a drop in testosterone.
If you are a man reading this, no worries about losing your “manhood.” While he can still be strong and vigorous, this change in a dad’s physiology encourages the likelihood that he will nurture his children. Researchers (of a study published in PloS ONE called “Does Cosleeping Contribute to Lower Testosterone Levels in Fathers? Evidence from the Phillipines”) found that men sleeping near their babies were more sympathetic to their cries. I can attest to that because that’s exactly what happened with my husband.
This got me thinking about research that’s been done on breastfeeding women. A woman who does not nurse her newborn is likely to begin menstruating again sooner than a woman who breastfeeds (especially if she breastfeeds exclusively). It’s nature’s way of protecting the species. If a mom gets pregnant soon after giving birth, her body may not be able to nurture the developing fetus and her infant. Remarkable the intelligence our bodies have, isn’t it?
Similarly, if a dad has a drop in testosterone, his drive to procreate may diminish, which in turn may increase the likelihood that he will tend and nurture his existing offspring. I think it’s heartwarming to learn that both parents can be biologically in synch with their children. Even more heartening, it turns out that this “biologic synchronicity” can occur even if a dad is away from his child for most of the day.
So if you doubt your husband’s connection with your child, think again! Many men often have strong connections, which they cherish. Happy Father’s Day!