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11 things that change for guys once they become dads

Published: Thursday, Aug. 7 2014 3:35 p.m. MDT

Updated: Friday, Aug. 8 2014 9:14 p.m. MDT

You're a new dad. Guess what? Your life is about to change. Here's how and why.

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There are more than 70 million dads in America.

But for fathers, life is not so simple. In fact, dads are constantly going through changes in their lives. Many in recent years have become single parents, while others are dealing with the stress of balancing both work and home.

What else changes for men as they become dads? The second the child is born, how does a man’s life suddenly turn on its head?

Here are 11 things that change for men once they become fathers:

Staying home

In college, you might have been the go-to guy for grabbing a pizza at 2 a.m. But as a dad, you’re looking to stay at home with the kids. The Pew Research Center found 2 million dads are stay-home-dads as of 2012, showing an increase in the amount of fathers electing to care for the kids during the work day.

Stress effects

Moms aren’t the only ones getting stressed. Dads who are balancing work and life tend to be as stressed as their female counterparts, the Pew Research Center found. This can even have a big impact on kids. Much of the stress that children receive from marital problems is actually because of dads, since kids are more likely to bond with mothers after arguments happen between spouses, research has found.

Work habits

You know what dads are fighting for now? Some paternity leave. A study published in the American Economic Review found that dads are more likely to apply for paternity leave if they see other dads are doing the same, according to The Atlantic. And a Boston College study found that dads are taking more weeks off after having their first kid.

Bucking stereotypes

There’s a common perception that boys are messy and unkempt. But dads are bucking that trend. In fact, a dad’s cleanliness is actually giving their daughters some inspiration, according to a study published in a March 2014 edition of Psychological Science.

“Importantly, when fathers enacted or espoused a more egalitarian distribution of household labor, their daughters in particular expressed a greater interest in working outside the home and having a less stereotypic occupation,” the study reported.

Paternal instincts

When the dad is the primary caregiver of kids, he becomes more maternal, researchers have found, according to Health Day. A man’s brain is actually wired to become much like a mothers, making him less fitting of the protective male role that research says he has and more of the paternal mother.

Protectiveness

But dads are more than willing to stay protective. A recent survey by Slate found that parents are being more protective of their kids now than in the past, putting kids on a proverbial leash that didn’t exist too long ago.

“We heard a lot about sneaking out, petty theft, amateur arson, drugs, and sexual experimentation from our older respondents,” Slate reported. “But as time passes, the picture of childhood looks a lot less wild and reckless and a lot more monitored.”

Happiness

Men are less gloomy and depressed once they’ve stopped working, a University College London study found. Part of this might be because they begin to bond better with others as they enter the realm of fatherhood. And though the difference between those who have kids and those who don’t isn’t too big, people have proven to be happier once they bring children into their lives, according to a report by Princeton University and Stony Brook University, CNN reported.

Responsibilities

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