Ready or not, you're a dad! Don't worry -- nature is tweaking your brain and body in ways that'll ensure you're just the right man for the job
Photo Credit: Jodi Pudge
You’d swear Andy Corbett was a martial arts expert — or a plainclothes superhero. He’s sitting at a picnic table with his sons, Pierce, four, and Garret, two, when his hand darts out to catch a falling sippy cup in mid-air. Calmly, he places it back on the table and continues to tuck into the lunch he’s sharing with the boys at a chili cook-off near their home in Peterborough, Ont.
I’ve definitely noticed an increase in my reflexes since I’ve become a father,” Corbett says, rescuing the second cup. “It’s a handy skill,” he continues, nonplussed. “It’s prepared me to catch the boys before they fell off climbers or slides.”
Does Corbett’s calm preparedness come from simple practice, or is there an innate sort of Spidey sense attached to being a father? And what other parenting skills are specific to the male of the species?
Earth needs dads
In vitro fertilization won the 2010 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine — a reminder to women that an ongoing male presence, or, heck, even mating, are no longer requirements for making a baby. Even pop culture riffs on the topic: In a recent episode of TV’s The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon is given a napkin used by his hero, the actor who played Spock in Star Trek. He posits that with a viable ovum and DNA from the napkin, he could “grow” his own Leonard Nimoy.
But while modern science at least comically allows us to consider life without dads, a number of recent studies show that kids are better off having them around. Researchers at the University of California concluded in a 2006 study that fathers actually play a larger role in speech development than moms. They found that, on average, dads spend less time engaged in “baby talk” and tend to use larger words. This more challenging means of communication may stimulate baby’s vocabulary and encourage the development of complex language concepts such as wit and sarcasm (which we planned for all along…).