A Father’s Brain

My father loved infants.  He was the most excited person in the family when my mom was pregnant and he always made the announcement.  I must have either missed or forgotten the announcement about an incoming sibling when I was five years old.  My mom disappeared one day and after a week I thought she wasn’t coming back.  I was outside honing my survival skills by lighting matches when my folks drove up.  My mom carried something squirming in a yellow blanket.  My dad told me to put the matches away and come in the house to see the new baby.  I obeyed and put the matches away but the squirming thing looked like trouble so I passed on that.

My father loved girls.  Four of his five children were girls.  One of the few times I saw him cry was when my youngest sister died from leukemia at the age of three. My father had to wait 40 years for another girl to arrive in the family, a great-granddaughter.  She had a close bond with my father and wrote a touching story about him when he died.

My father loved story-telling. He would get a twinkle in his eye and commence telling a humorous story with a straight face while the rest of us roared with laughter.  In his last remaining years, he would ask me to drive him around the farm that has been in our family for 100 years.  He would tell me stories of what had happened during the early days.

Every Father’s Day I recall my father’s stories, his character, and his deep love for his family.  This year I’ve also discovered some interesting research about a father’s brain. Consider the following:

  • A study of expectant fathers showed that midpregnancy ultrasound is a key moment in connecting with the baby. However, while moms think about cuddling the baby, dads think about the child’s future.
  • A father’s brain changes while caring for a baby, similar to brain changes in the mother, to reflect his new care-giving role.
  • According to brain scans, fathers with toddler daughters are more attentive and responsive to their daughters’ needs than fathers with toddler sons are to the needs of sons.

If my father were still here, I would share the brain research findings with him. But I already know how he would respond.  He would just laugh.  Because he already knew that.


NFPN has many resources on father involvement.  For an overview visit http://www.nfpn.org/father-involvement

In honor of Father’s Day, NFPN is offering The Complete Guide to Father Involvement (http://www.nfpn.org/father-involvement/guide-to-father-inv) FREE with purchase of:

Basic Fatherhood Training Curriculum Package: http://www.nfpn.org/father-involvement/basic-training-package

Advanced Fatherhood Training Curriculum Package: http://www.nfpn.org/father-involvement/advanced-training-pack

Pricing begins at $150 per training package for up to 25 workers or $275 for both.  For ordering and more info contact Priscilla Martens, director@nfpn.org.

Posted by Priscilla Martens

NFPN Executive Director


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