Until recently, the role of fathers in childhood development was mostly overlooked in the research world. In the 1970’s, attachment theorists believed that the relationship between an infant and its mother was the only primary relationship that kids could form.
Now, scientists and researchers have shown that fathers play just as critical a role in their child’s development—during infancy and beyond. The positive impacts of engaged dads are consistent among same-sex and gender non-binary parents, too.
Over the past twenty years, numerous studies have found that engaged fathers can have a long-lasting impact on a child’s cognitive, emotional, and physical development. But the kids aren’t the only ones reaping the rewards of this relationship—emerging research shows that dads experience health benefits, too.
A Change in Lifestyle
One unexpected benefit of fatherhood is its impact on a man’s lifestyle. For many men, becoming a father triggers a wave of conscious and subconscious behavioral changes. Data shows that many fathers are less likely to engage in risky behaviors once they become fathers, including smoking, drinking heavily, and driving recklessly.
Unsurprisingly, these changes can have a positive impact on their physical health. In fact, one study published in Human Reproduction found that married fathers were 17 percent less likely to die of cardiovascular disease—one of the biggest causes of death in men over the age of 40—than men without kids.
Better Psychological Well-Being
Being an active and engaged father can also have positive effects on a dad’s mental health. One long-term study conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health found that fathers in positive family relationships suffered less stress-related health issues.
Another study published in the Journal of Family Issues found that men who were highly invested in their role as a father had lower levels of depression, even when they didn't live in the same house as their children—suggesting that parental engagement is more important than proximity.
It’s long been understood how pregnancy, childbirth, and even parenting impact a mother’s hormones. But emerging research suggests that parenthood affects dad’s hormones, too.
The oxytocin buzz: Oxytocin, often referred to as the “love” or “bonding” hormone has been shown to spike in fathers who regularly hold, play, and engage with their newborns. In addition to facilitating feelings of love and connection, oxytocin is an important chemical messenger that plays a role in some human behaviors and social interactions, including trust, recognition, and anxiety.
Increase in prolactin: Scientists have found that fathers who spend more time engaging with their young children experience an increase in prolactin—a hormone best known for helping mothers produce breast milk. Evidence suggests high prolactin levels may help fathers with child-caring behavior and facilitating behavioral and emotional states attributed to child care. In other words, an increase in prolactin may help you become a more sensitive and responsive dad.
Declining T levels: There is one downside to hormonal changes experienced during fatherhood: declining testosterone levels. Studies show that in new fathers, testosterone levels can drop by about a third. In fact, dads who spend more time with their infants see the biggest dip, which may help explain the decrease in risky behaviors. Thankfully, Vault can help.
The Gift of Longer, Better Health
At Vault, we know firsthand that fatherhood is a lifelong commitment. We’re committed to helping men—and fathers—live longer, healthier lives.
Becoming a father is a life-changing event. Though there are multitudes of benefits of joys of fatherhood, falling testosterone levels isn’t one of them. In fact, low T can put you at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and early death. Which is why we’ve leveraged our 30+ years of medical expertise to make identifying and treating low T easier than ever.
Want to learn more about our cutting edge treatments? Book an online visit with Vault today to learn more about how we can help you.