Like a lot of books for and about stepmothers, books for fathers and books about fatherhood can be a little…trite. And Hallmark card-ish. Or lite. They’re either “funny” or “self-help-y.” Which is fine, if that’s what you want. But if you want a really comprehensive, comparative look at fatherhood, if you want answers to the questions, “What happens to men when they have kids? How does it actually affect them?” you will love a book called Fatherhood: Evolution and Human Paternal Behavior. Don’t be put off by the wonky title. Yes, it’s wonky, but this book is also accessible, fun, and fascinating.
Did you know that becoming a father changes a man’s biochemistry (yep, testosterone levels go down, oxytocin levels go up), rewires his brain, and alters his immune system and his emotions? Sure, a lot has been said and written about the important impact fathers have on the lives of their children. But until now, no one has considered at any length just what the impact of becoming a father is on a man.
This book considers a wide swath of fatherhood–everything from the sperm donor to the stepdad to the gay dad, the divorced dad, and the dad in traditional hunter-gatherer societies. Did you know that men in the U.S. and Western Europe are just about the only ones who “roughhouse” with their kids? That man in Japan spend an average of 20 minutes per day with their kids, while among a tribe of foragers called the Aka in Central Congo, men spend a full fifth of their time in close contact with their kids?
Everything you never knew you wanted to know about fathers is here in this book by anthropologists Kermyt G. Anderson and Peter B. Gray. Check out my interview with Dr. Anderson in the Huffington Post, and purchase Fatherhood: the Evolution of Human Paternal Behavior from amazon.com or your local independent bookseller.