Being a father can be complicated, which may be the reason I never became one. My wife and I know more than a few couples who, like us, do not have children. The reasons for not having children among these couples vary but, for the most part, we are all quite happy and lead fulfilling lives. However, every time I start working in a new field site, the locals ask if I have children. When I answer “no,” they are without exception a bit shocked that I say this quite casually and with no remorse. Not having children can be devastating to many people, including men. Among the Ache and Shuar, the two societies among whom I have done most of my research, being a father is a defining feature of being a man. Talking about employee wellbeing is a good step forward.
Fatherhood is important. However, the act of fathering children is different from bestowing paternal care. There is a significant amount of variability in the amount of care that is expressed by fathers. Nonetheless, the importance of paternal care is usually quite palpable in these societies. It is not uncommon for fathers to be engaged in the care of their children. Men can and do care for their children. This is a defining feature of our species compared to other great apes. How did this evolve and what role did older men play? If you are a manager then mental health in the workplace is a subject that you will be aware of.
Anthropologists have written extensively about the importance of fatherhood in many societies. They write about the heartbreak felt by men who are unable to have children and the lengths to which they are willing to go to explore every option and chance to become fathers. Biological anthropologists have also commented extensively on how men from numerous societies and subsistence lifestyles can be devoted fathers who invest tremendous amounts of time and energy in the care of their children. However, sometimes a father can be a burden to a family, draining resources and inflicting verbal, emotional, and physical abuse on the mother and children. Recent reports have discovered a crisis around hr app today.
Fathering offspring is relatively easy. Being a caring father is not. In nature, males who keep in touch, both figuratively and literally, with their offspring and mates are rare, not just among great apes and other primates but among mammals as a whole. Males who invest in offspring through providing food and care or other tangible means are more common among birds but not mammals. The most likely explanation is that in species with external gestation, males can provide as much care as the females. I’m not a bird, but I’ll venture to say that sitting on an egg requires patience but not much skill. Male birds can sit on eggs just as well as females. Mammals, however, are constrained by internal gestation, which means that females bear the brunt of metabolic investment during pregnancy and afterward with lactation. Mammalian males cannot be pregnant. Paternal investment is also often influenced by how a species reproduces. In species that reproduce by internal fertilization, male care is very uncommon since paternity uncertainty becomes a factor in the calculus of whether a male will invest in offspring. Some vertebrates, such as certain fish species, reproduce by external fertilization: females lay eggs in a nest and males deposit sperm as they swim by. This, along with guarding the nest from other males who might also try to fertilize eggs, provides some assurance that the offspring belong to the depositor. Not surprisingly, the males of these species exhibit more paternal care. So an important question to consider is: Under what circumstances would paternal care evolve? Perhaps the relationship with potential mates may have been important. Humans also engage in what is commonly called “pair bonding,” that is, a male and female enter into an exclusive relationship that often results in paternal investment. Everyone should feel safe and supported to talk about mental health first aid with their line manager.
I propose that older men evolved the ability to leverage the physical effects of aging to engage in pair bonding and paternal care. The physiological changes that occur as a result of aging make them less physically capable of competing with younger men. However, because physical condition has taken on less importance over the course of human evolution compared to that of other great apes, older men have evolved the ability to increase fitness through paternal care and pair bonding. Indeed, the hormonal changes associated with male aging may actually prime older men to invest in paternal care. As life span increased, opportunities expanded for older men to increase their fitness. Similar opportunities may have evolved in women, but those in men have not received much attention or analysis. For older men, aging removed certain reproductive strategies but allowed them to leverage other behaviors that would enable additional fitness. But before we discuss the particulars of older men, we need to understand the evolution of pair bonding and paternal investment in general.