Fatherhood: Evolution and Human Paternal Behavior

Fatherhood: Evolution and Human Paternal Behavior

As an expectant father I read ‘Fatherhood: Evolution and Human Paternal Behavior‘ hoping to learn more about what it means to be a father. This is definitely not one of the popular books which assumes the role of an experienced teacher / coach and tell you how to be a good father, what to care about, how to raise your child, how to support your wife etc. So if you are looking for friendly advice with occasional humor, lots of personal anecdotes with medical advice scattered in between you’d better look at other popular books (such as The Expectant Father: Facts, Tips, and Advice for Dads-to-Be (New Father Series)). However if you are interested in what exists (in contrast to what should) in the world of fatherhood, then this is probably the best resource as of now. The authors describe many aspects related to fatherhood and they provide lots of examples and data from various cultures as well as from our genetic relatives such as orangutans, chimpanzees, bonobos and birds. You’ll find many scientific explanations of what fathers in various cultures do, and why they do it, especially in terms of evolutionary mechanisms. I’m glad that the authors did not fail to strike a good balance between scientific writing and popular one; they did not assume that I was an expert in anthropology or fatherhood studies but nevertheless expected attention and careful reading from me (which I happily did for most of the chapters). Personally I found the last few chapters very informative in which they talk about how caring for his baby changes the brain of a father, affects the hormonal system and creates both benefits and risks for health. Therein lies some important insights for the curious reader / father, especially related to cross-cultural variations in short-term and long-term affects of fatherhood. I think this book will be an important reference in my library to which I’ll return as I grow old as a father. (And it already started to help me understand the behaviors of some fathers that I observe in my social circle which I find to be another positive point for the book.)

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