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Why fatherhood is good for men

·2 mins

Many arguments about why dads should do more parenting focus on why that would be good for their wives or partners and kids. How about why and how it would be good for the dads themselves? Fatherhood can be good for men, psychologically speaking. The experience of being a dad allows men to feel feelings and behave in ways that mainstream masculinity standards often prohibit. At the office or on the ball court, men are expected to deny or conceal their vulnerability, empathy and sensitivity. But with their kids, dads have a chance to explore all these sides and more. They get to be sweet, soft and compassionate, unafraid to show tenderness without fear of judgment or rejection. Many are better for it. The shift toward men doing more parenting is due in large part to women entering the workforce in greater numbers. Despite the professional and cultural obstacles, today’s dads continue to do more parenting both for practical reasons and personal ones. They like it. Traditional masculinity, marked by stoicism, competitiveness, dominance, and aggression, is harmful overall. Caring for others gives men a chance to combat the shame associated with not being tough enough and can make them feel helpful, worthwhile, and like something matters. At online and in-person gatherings for dad groups, fathers often work through their desire to try to be more sensitive, empathetic dads. These conversations are a rare opportunity for many dads to shed their macho skins and discover what is underneath. Caring for his child changed everything for one father. It woke up the tender and receptive parts of himself that he had long buried. To raise his child, he went from being a stone-cold person to being the complete opposite. He had to change everything about himself.