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Elementary Dad: Fathers and masculinity

As a father, I’ve got less testosterone than childless men, but I'm less likely to die of heart disease.

My older-than-average age (48) means my daughter was lucky to have been conceived at all. But now that she’s here, she’s just as likely to get good grades as a child born to a younger man.

I don’t view work as my reason for existence. I may have experienced postpartum depression. I’m more likely to be in charge of a carpool.

And because I’m “involved” in my child’s life, my daughter has a slight advantage over other kids — at least until she becomes a teenager, at which point my presence will have little or no effect on whether she turns into a juvenile delinquent. (Had she been born a boy, my presence would have a more positive influence.)

These personal qualities were made clear to me through recent studies of fathers. The results paint a picture of fatherhood that is both reassuring and strange: A masculine influence in a child’s life seems to do some good (both for the child and the father), but being involved with children seems to make a man less masculine.

I don’t view this as a bad thing. The word “masculine” has taken on a derogatory tone, likely to invoke images of steroid-enhanced athletes or those irksome first husbands who never learned to properly sort laundry. If having a child caused a drop in my testosterone level, and therefore made me more nurturing, that’s fine with me. Neither the Jet nor the Giants need me to play linebacker, but my daughter often needs me to play school.

So I go where I’m needed. My subscription to Sports Illustrated long ago lapsed, but these days I reap more benefit from Time Out New York Kids, or even Every Day With Rachael Ray (which, let it be said, has some tasty burger recipes). I’ll enjoy the proven benefits of involved fatherhood, and I’ll face any potential pitfalls with the comforting knowledge that science can’t predict everything. You single guys can keep your testosterone. My healthy heart and I will go on.


Last modified on Monday, 24 October 2011 10:32

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