Do dads care?

Parental care may be embedded in the biology of human males and in many other animals. That’s what is suggested by a paper in the Annual Review of Anthropology – reviewed by the Child and Family Blog. So, at home or as a provider, dads care.

In the majority of species females and males care unequally for their offspring. And it’s the mums who do the lion’s share of the work. There are exceptions – from seahorses to emus – where it’s the dads who take on the primary role of parenting.

[T]he biology of fatherhood underscores the flexibility of fathers to adapt to meet the many different challenges that face parents, whether it is providing direct care to children or food and resources for them.

Child and family blog

Anthropological studies have looked at the roles of men and women in early human societies. They’ve compared these with gender roles in other primates.

Photo by Kateryna Hliznitsova, Unsplash

In contrast with some of our mythology, according to this study, “caring fatherhood is not only core to men’s parenting. It may have come first in human evolution, before fathers provided food for their offspring. Indeed, if humans had not first developed early forms of caring fatherhood, then the provider father might never have arrived. Thus, “caring dad” may have laid the evolutionary foundations for “provider dad.” “

“As anthropologists, we know that cultural contexts have large effects on shaping human parents’ roles in families. So it might be most accurate to say that men are biologically evolved to be culturally primed as caregivers.”

So dads care. In fact carer-dad may have come before provider-dad.