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Active Parenting Makes Men More Sensitive to Child's Needs

May 27, 2014 03:58 AM EDT
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Fathers, who spend more time taking care of their children, experience changes in the brain's region associated with emotions. The research shows that active parenting makes men as sensitive as a mother to a child's needs.

Pregnancy and childbirth changes certain brain regions in a woman that makes her more concerned about the safety of a child than the father. This new study shows that men can develop strong emotional bonds with their children by getting involved in daily parenting activities, according to HealthDay.  

Most studies look into how mothers deal with parenting. Recent research shows that it is the fathers, more than mothers, who shape their child's personality. Resilience and determination are also traits determined by fathers' parenting style. The present study also found that homosexual men can think like a mother and take good care of the child's emotional needs.

"It's not something you can find in the animal world, and it's not something you could find in humans until very recently - two committed fathers raising a child," said Ruth Feldman, adjunct professor at the Yale Child Study Center at Yale University and lead author of the study, HealthDay reported. Often, one man in the relationship takes the role of a primary caregiver.

The study was based on 89 new mums and dads; 20 primary-caregiver heterosexual mothers and 21 secondary-caregiver heterosexual fathers along with 48 homosexual fathers.

For the study, researchers observed how parents interacted with the children. The team also hooked parents to brain scanner to see how parenting was affecting various regions of the brain.

The mothers had more activity going on in the amygdale, which is concerned with processing emotions. Heterosexual fathers in a supporting role had high levels of activity in temporal sulcus - a region associated with cognitive process and empathy. In other words, dads in the role of secondary caregivers view parenting as a logical task, according to HealthDay.

However, homosexual fathers' brains had high levels of activity not only in the temporal sulcus region, but also in the amygdale. The research shows that hands-on fathers are as sensitive to a child's needs as a mother.

"Fathers' brains are very plastic," Feldman told The Time. "When there are two fathers, their brains must recruit both the networks - the emotional and cognitive, for optimal parenting."

The study is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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