Dad’s are biologically wired to care for their kids. A recent study found that when a man becomes a father, his testosterone levels fall. Higher testosterone levels prepare a man to find a mate, but when the baby is born, his levels drop to help him better handle the nurturing demands of parenting. Prior to this study, it wasn’t clear whether fathering lowered the levels, or men with lower levels where more likely to become fathers.
Another study which looked at several decades’ worth of parenting studies found that kids who felt rejected by their fathers showed higher rates of behavioral problems, delinquency, depression and substance abuse than those kids who felt rejected by their mothers. The researcher when on to say that when fathers are loving, his loving his children will have a greater impact developmentally on the child than the mother’s loving her children.
That’s not the common wisdom, but there are examples in the Bible that show us why this is true. When we read the story of Jacob and Esau, we see that great emphasis is placed on the importance of the father’s blessing. It was so important that Esau is prepared to kill Jacob because Jacob had stolen the blessing that belonged to him.
We don’t talk much today about a “father’s blessing,” but I encounter in my therapy practice a number of people who are suffering as adults because they never got their father’s approval–a contemporary form of the “father’s blessing.”
I think part of why this is true is that we typically experience a mother’s love as being unconditional. No matter what we do, she will always love us. But we experience our father’s love as being more conditional. It doesn’t mean he necessarily loves us conditionally–it’s how we experience his love. When we feel we get his approval as we are launched into adulthood, what we had previously experienced as conditional love is finally experienced as unconditional love. Guess that’s why God made a man equally capable of nurturing his children as the mother. The goal is unconditional love from both parents.
Question: How did you experience your father’s love?