This is a guest article by Anna Machin. Anna is an evolutionary anthropologist. She is fascinated by the science behind close human relationships. If you would like to hear more. Book your tickets to her next talk with this link
Why come to a talk about the science behind being a father? Well, we’ve all known a dad or two in our lives. Whether it’s our own dad, a friend’s dad, our father-in-law or we might even, as I am, be married to one. It is my husband who inspired me to spend the last ten years researching the science behind being a dad and, to be frank, it’s important that I share with you what I have discovered.
You see when I began my research – a decade younger and many fewer coffees down the line – we knew very little about what it was like to be a dad – what he did, how he felt, what changes he underwent. There was an extensive literature on the very real and critical impact that an absent father can have on his child but on understanding how the stick-around-dad experienced his role we academics had been worryingly lax. Lax because 80% of all men become fathers and he is a key member of all societies – it really is time we knew something about him.
And now we know this. That becoming a dad is not something evolution has left to chance; men are biologically primed to father – hormones change, brains are re- wired, parenting partnerships reinforced. That dads build a unique and crucial attachment with their child which is critical to their development, particularly their ability to cope and thrive in the big wide world. That dads contribute directly to their child’s linguistic skill and behavioural development and uniquely to their mental health. That dads are wonderfully flexible beings, rapidly altering their behaviour to secure their child’s survival. And that being dad is not about genes but who steps up to the plate and fulfils the role. There is so much to say and I only have an hour to say it (plus half an hour for Q and A!)
So, whether you are already a dad or imminently about to be one, whether you want to find out about this key figure in your life, whether you are a mum who wants to find out about their partner or you are just a science junky, fascinated by what makes us tick, come along to The Science of Dad on 20th June. Details with this link.