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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
Once you have a kid, all the conventional wisdom of responsibility goes out of the window. Dads are being given a lot of tasks when raising the kids nowadays, according to Psych Central. With nearly 30 percent of American children not living with their biological parents, it’s important for dads to stay in their kids’ lives, Psych Central reported.
“Once you are a father, you are a father for life,” Psych Central reported.
Work. Home. Sleep. It’s leading to an increase in stress for dads, a recent study found, according to Fortune. In fact, more than half of American dads are taking time off in order to take care of child-related tasks, which has led to 68 percent of fathers facing issues with their bosses for spending the time away from the office, Fortune reported.
Whether it’s working out or doing right at the workplace, there’s a change when a child is born. Dads go from being mostly self-disciplining to having to discipline and help manage a child’s life. The National Center for Fathering found, though, that dads are actually sidestepping some disciplining duties. But is that something they should be doing? The NCF says yes — dads should undertake more responsibility for their children's discipline to relieve moms of unnecessary pressure.
Dads have to learn new ways of dealing with athletics. While typically a man may be looking to manage his own team and own game, that completely changes when he’s managing his kid’s team, or cheering on his son or daughter. Slate reported that many dads aren’t very composed from the stands, stressing their kids out for the wrong reasons.
Did we miss something? E-mail other ways life changes for dads to Herb Scribner at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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