Advertising
Advertising

Father’s Childbearing Age Can Hugely Affect Children’s Mental Health And Academic Performance, Science Says

Father’s Childbearing Age Can Hugely Affect Children’s Mental Health And Academic Performance, Science Says

During the past for 40 years, it has been noticed that the average age for childbearing has increased steadily. In the US alone, for example, this has risen from 21.5 to 25.4 for women since 1970, while the average age for men is three years older. Driven by changing social trends and the advances made in medical science, we can also expect the average childbearing age to increase incrementally for both men and women in the years ahead.

What is the impact of a rising childbirth age?

While the rising age of childbirth may be an accepted and proven fact. However, its impact on both parents and their children as yet to be fully explored. This is what prompted a recent collaborative study between the Indiana University and medical researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, which set out to determine what an advanced parental age means for those involved. In particular, significant emphasis was placed on the impact of a father’s childbearing age on their child’s academic performance and emotional well-being, especially as some studies have already been focused on the potential implications of a rising childbearing age for women.

The results are subsequently backed by a vast and diverse data set, covering everyone born in Sweden between the years of 1973 and 2001. Most pointedly, they seemed to indicate that children benefit the most when born to younger parents, while those who boast younger fathers can even enjoy particularly significant advantages.

Advertising

With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the advantages that children can gain from being born to a younger father:

1. Children born to younger fathers will enjoy far greater mental and emotional health

One of the most startling discoveries made during the survey was that children born to younger fathers are far less likely to experience some emotional and mental disorders. They are 13 times less likely to suffer from ADHD, for example, as well as being 3.5 times less likely to display autistic tendencies. Similarly, they are a staggering 25 times less likely to have a debilitating bipolar disorder, which can create seasonal periods of depression and anxiety.

Interestingly, the study also suggested that children who were born to younger fathers would be 2.5 times less likely to display suicidal behaviour or develop substance abuse problems, hinting at a more robust mental state and outlook. While there is no suggested childbearing age at which these issues become problematic, the difference between infants born to 24 and 45-year-old fathers was particularly striking.

Advertising

2. Children born to younger fathers can be less susceptible to certain illnesses

On a similar note, the study also highlighted that men are exposed to a number of harmful environmental toxins as they age. From carbon emissions and pollution to the impact of poor air quality within the home, these contaminants can combine to trigger DNA mutations within the sperm of each father. Coupled with the fact that the chance of mutation increases every time sperm replicate, this creates a genetic conundrum that fathers with an older childbearing age must consider.

In contrast, younger fathers are likely to have been exposed to far less environmental toxins and contaminants, which in turn reduces the number of mutations within their DNA. Although the vast majority of these are harmless, it is important to note that there are also disease-causing mutations which can make children more susceptible to specific disorders and physical illnesses.

Those born to younger fathers are more likely to avoid these, however, minimising the risk of them contracting certain diseases.

Advertising

3. Children born to younger fathers are more likely to achieve academically

We have already touched on the fact that children born to older fathers are more likely to suffer disorders such as ADHD. Disorders of this nature tend to impact negatively on a child’s behaviour and ability to learn, manifesting in a few potential educational issues. This logic was supported by the findings published in the survey, with children born to younger fathers recording improved grades, higher educational attainment and enhanced IQ scores.

Interestingly, the study made allowances for the higher maturity levels and earning capacity of older fathers, which could help to deliver a higher standard of education to children and negate some of the potential genetic issues. Despite this, there remains a clear link between the childbearing age of a father and their child’s academic performance.

The bottom line

Not only are these findings extremely insightful and drawn from a huge group of respondents, but they are also among the first to be focused on the impact of a father’s childbearing age. While the results cannot be applied to every individual father, and other external factors must also be considered, it is clear that a father’s childbearing age has a huge influence on the emotional, mental and physical development of their child as well as their levels of academic attainment.

Advertising

Similarly, it can also be surmised that children born to younger fathers can benefit from some genetic advantages, particularly as the likelihood of sperm mutations increases with age.

More by this author

10 Reasons A Long-Distance Relationship Will Work 12 iPhone 6 Tricks You Probably Don’t Know But Should We Are Often Confused Empathy With Sympathy but What’s The Difference Actually? To Make Wise Decisions, Ask Yourself These Questions Every Time No Matter What You Say, the First Thing People Pay Attention to Is Only How You Say It

Trending in Fatherhood

1 5 Ways to Ease Back to Work Without Nanny Anxiety 2 Paternity: 7 ways of Establishing Who Fathered Your Child 3 When Should Your Teenager Start Dating? 4 His Dad Never Spoke His Mind. He Broke Down Once He Knew Why. 5 Dad Shows His Love To Daughter In A Heartbreaking Manner

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Published on January 30, 2019

How to Support a Working Mother as a Working Father

How to Support a Working Mother as a Working Father

In roughly 60 percent of two-parent households with children under the age of 18, both parents work full time. But who takes time off work when the kids are sick in your house? And if you are a manager, how do you react when a man says he needs time to take his baby to the pediatrician?

The sad truth is, the default in many companies and families is to value the man’s work over the woman’s—even when there is no significant difference in their professional obligations or compensation. This translates into stereotypes in the workplace that women are the primary caregivers, which can negatively impact women’s success on the job and their upward mobility.

According to a Pew Research Center analysis of long-term time-use data (1965–2011), fathers in dual-income couples devote significantly less time than mothers do to child care.[1] Dads are doing more than twice as much housework as they used to (from an average of about four hours per week to about 10 hours), but there is still a significant imbalance.

This is not just an issue between spouses; it’s a workplace culture issue. In many offices, it is still taboo for dads to openly express that they have family obligations that need their attention. In contrast, the assumption that moms will be on the front lines of any family crisis is one that runs deep.

Consider an example from my company. A few years back, one of our team members joined us for an off-site meeting soon after returning from maternity leave. Not even two hours into her trip, her husband called to say that the baby had been crying nonstop. While there was little our colleague could practically do to help with the situation, this call was clearly unsettling, and the result was that her attention was divided for the rest of an important business dinner.

This was her first night away since the baby’s birth, and I know that her spouse had already been on several business trips before this event. Yet, I doubt she called him during his conferences to ask child-care questions. Like so many moms everywhere, she was expected to figure things out on her own.

Advertising

The numbers show that this story is far from the exception. In another Pew survey, 47 percent of dual-income parents agreed that the moms take on more of the work when a child gets sick.[2] In addition, 39 percent of working mothers said they had taken a significant amount of time off from work to care for their child compared to just 24 percent of working fathers. Mothers are also more likely than fathers (27 percent to 10 percent) to say they had quit their job at some point for family reasons.

Before any amazing stay-at-home-dads post an angry rebuttal comment, I want to be very clear that I am not judging how families choose to divide and conquer their personal and professional responsibilities; that’s 100 percent their prerogative. Rather, I am taking aim at the culture of inequity that persists even when spouses have similar or identical professional responsibilities. This is an important issue for all of us because we are leaving untapped business and human potential on the table.

What’s more, I think my fellow men can do a lot about this. For those out there who still privately think that being a good dad just means helping out mom, it’s time to man up. Stop expecting working partners—who have similar professional responsibilities—to bear the majority of the child-care responsibilities as well.

Consider these ways to support your working spouse:

1. Have higher expectations for yourself as a father; you are a parent, not a babysitter.

Know who your pediatrician is and how to reach him or her. Have a back-up plan for transportation and emergency coverage.

Don’t simply expect your partner to manage all these invisible tasks on her own. Parenting takes effort and preparation for the unexpected.

Advertising

As in other areas of life, the way to build confidence is to learn by doing. Moms aren’t born knowing how to do this stuff any more than dads are.

2. Treat your partner the way you’d want to be treated.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard a man on a business trip say to his wife on a call something to the effect of, “I am in the middle of a meeting. What do you want me to do about it?”

However, when the tables are turned, men often make that same call at the first sign of trouble.

Distractions like this make it difficult to focus and engage with work, which perpetuates the stereotype that working moms aren’t sufficiently committed.

When you’re in charge of the kids, do what she would do: Figure it out.

3. When you need to take care of your kids, don’t make an excuse that revolves around your partner’s availability.

This implies that the children are her first priority and your second.

Advertising

I admit I have been guilty in the past of telling clients, “I have the kids today because my wife had something she could not move.” What I should have said was, “I’m taking care of my kids today.”

Why is it so hard for men to admit they have personal responsibilities? Remember that you are setting an example for your sons and daughters, and do the right thing.

4. As a manager, be supportive of both your male and female colleagues when unexpected situations arise at home.

No one likes or wants disruptions, but life happens, and everyone will face a day when the troubling phone call comes from his sitter, her school nurse, or even elderly parents.

Accommodating personal needs is not a sign of weakness as a leader. Employees will be more likely to do great work if they know that you care about their personal obligations and family—and show them that you care about your own.

5. Don’t keep score or track time.

At home, it’s juvenile to get into debates about who last changed a diaper or did the dishes; everyone needs to contribute, but the big picture is what matters. Is everyone healthy and getting enough sleep? Are you enjoying each other’s company?

In business, too, avoid the trap of punching a clock. The focus should be on outcomes and performance rather than effort and inputs. That’s the way to maintain momentum toward overall goals.

Advertising

The Bottom Line

To be clear, I recognize that a great many working dads are doing a terrific job both on the home front and in their professional lives. My concern is that these standouts often aren’t visible to their colleagues; they intentionally or inadvertently let their work as parents fly under the radar. Dads need to be open and honest about family responsibilities to change perceptions in the workplace.

The question “How do you balance it all?” should not be something that’s just asked of women. Frankly, no one can answer that question. Juggling a career and parental responsibilities is tough. At times, really tough.

But it’s something that more parents should be doing together, as a team. This can be a real bonus for the couple relationship as well, because nothing gets in the way of good partnership faster than feelings of inequity.

On the plus side, I can tell you that parenting skills really do get better with practice—and that’s great for people of both sexes. I think our cultural expectations that women are the “nurturers” and men are the “providers” needs to evolve. Expanding these definitions will open the doors to richer contributions from everyone, because women can and should be both—and so should men.

Featured photo credit: NeONBRAND via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next