The Evolution of Fatherhood

The role of the Father has been profoundly transformed.

Fathers are no longer solely the breadwinners and disciplinarians. These changes have come about because of the coming together of several factors.  In Australia in the mid 1970 social, cultural and economic changes challenged the stereotype of what it meant to be a Father.  Feminism was growing and with that the number of working Mothers grew and the traditional gender roles within the family were challenged.

With these changes came a progression towards sharing responsibility and involvement.  The presence of Fathers in the delivery ward has gone from a rarity to a given, with about 96% of Dads attending their child’s birth.  Paternity leave and more flexible work arrangements and the economic need for the Mother to return to work has meant that there is a societal expectation that Fathers step up and take on more of a care giving role.

These changes in role expectations have happened over a relative short period of time and our new Fathers are still navigating their way through this territory.  I think it is important to consider that just like Mothers, Fathers are biologically predisposed to parent. Following childbirth, all new Fathers experience a reduction in testosterone levels. This drop is pivotal, motivating Fathers to become empathetic and hands-on parents, and it removes the inhibitory influence of high testosterone on bonding hormones. This ensures that Fathers experience a surge in feel-good chemicals each time they interact with their newborns. This is coupled with changes in the brain that enhances nurturing, attention, empathy, and problem-solving.  The research tells us Fathers are biologically equipped to co-parents.   Both parents build a nurturing connection with their children and the bond between Father and child, while different from the Mother is equally important for the child’s growth and wellbeing.

The changes in roles have not come without challenges.  The younger generation of Dads are approaching parenting differently to their Fathers.  They are forging a different way to parent.  In some respects, they can be seen as pioneers – challenging traditional norms, redefining roles and expectations and paving the way for the next generation of Fathers.


By nurturing and supporting Fathers we are helping them to better nurture and support their infants.

For more information – How Becoming a Dad Changes Men