Father

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Father holding daughter in swaddling clothes
Paternal bonding between a father and his newborn daughter - the father swaddles his child

A father (or dad) is a male parent who has raised a child, supplied the sperm through sexual intercourse or sperm donation which grew into a child, and/or donated a body cell which resulted in a clone. The adjective "paternal" refers to a father and comparatively to "maternal" for a mother. The verb "to father" means to procreate or to sire a child from which also derives the noun "fathering". Fathers determine the sex of their child through a sperm cell which either contains an X chromosome (female), or Y chromosome (male).[1] Related terms of endearment are dad, daddy, pa, papa, pop and pops. A male role-model that children can look up to is sometimes referred to as a father-figure.

Etymology[edit]

From Middle English fader, from Old English fæder, from Proto-Germanic *fadēr (cf. East Frisian foar, Dutch vader, German vater), from Proto-Indo-European *ph₂tḗr (cf. Irish athair, Tocharian A pācar, B pācer, Lithuanian patinas ("male animal")), akin to Latin pater, akin to Ancient Greek πατήρ (patēr), akin to Sanskrit पितृ (pitru).

Relationship with children[edit]

Father and child, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Traditionally, fathers act in a protective, supportive and responsible way towards their children. Involved fathers offer developmentally specific provisions to their sons and daughters throughout the life cycle and are impacted themselves by doing so. Active father figures may play a role in reducing behavior and psychological problems in young men and women.[2] An increased amount of father–child involvement may help increase a child's social stability, educational achievement, and their potential to have a solid marriage as an adult. Their children may also be more curious about the world around them and develop greater problem solving skills.[3] Children who were raised with fathers perceive themselves to be more cognitively and physically competent than their peers without a father.[4] Mothers raising children together with a father reported less severe disputes with their child.[5]

The father figure does not always have to be a child's biological father and some children will have a biological father as well as a step- or nurturing father. When the biological father dies, or divorces, the mother may marry a second man who becomes the stepfather of the child. Where a child is conceived through sperm donation, the donor will be the "biological father" of the child, and if the mother has a male partner, he will be the nurturing father.

Fatherhood as legitimate identity shared by specific men and their children can be dependent on domestic factors and behaviors. For example, a study of the relationship between fathers, their sons, and home computers found that the construction of fatherhood and masculinity required fathers display computer expertise.[6]

According to the anthropologist Maurice Godelier, the parental role assumed by human males is a critical difference between human society and that of humans' closest biological relatives—chimpanzees and bonobos—who appear to be unaware of their "father" connection. Studies show that fathers with smaller testicles are more likely to bathe, feed and nappy change their babies.[7]

Determination of parenthood[edit]

Paternal love (1803) by Nanette Rosenzweig, National Museum in Warsaw

Since Roman times fatherhood has been determined with this famous sentence: Mater semper certa; pater est quem nuptiae demonstrant ("The [identity of the] mother is always certain; the father is whom the marriage vows indicate"). The historical approach has been destabilised with the recent emergence of accurate scientific testing, particularly DNA testing. As a result, the law on fatherhood is undergoing rapid changes.

Like mothers, human fathers may be categorized according to their biological, social or legal relationship with the child. Historically, the biological relationship paternity has been determinative of fatherhood. However, proof of paternity has been intrinsically problematic and so social rules often determined who would be regarded as a father, e.g. the husband of the mother.

An individual who is a genetic chimera could theoretically have more than one biological father. No example of this has been reported but human chimeras were unknown to exist until recently and scientists are currently uncertain as to the extent of chimerism within the human population.[8]

Fatherhood in the U.S.[edit]

In the U.S., the image of the married father as the primary wage-earner is changing in the face of evidence that fathers may be married or single; gay or straight; living with their own children or raising others’ children, living nearby or out of the country, or incarcerated. The social context of fatherhood plays an important part in the well-being of men and all their children.[9] In the U.S., 16% of single parents are men.[10]

History of fatherhood[edit]

Carl Larson painter playing with his laughing daughter Brita

The discovery of fatherhood[11][12] is likely to have been as important for the development of the human race as the discovery of fire.[13] The discovery of fatherhood took place in a historical period for which information sources are rare, but the few scholars focusing on that period gave us a sufficiently clear picture of this discovery.[11]

The link between sexual acts and procreation can be empirically identified, but it is by no means of immediate evidence. In fact, the conception of life cannot be observed, whereas its birth is obviously visible. The extended time lag between the former and the latter certainly does not help to identify their link, but on the contrary it makes even more difficult to assume any kind of relationship between these two events. As a result, human beings ignored that males impregnate females for thousands of years.[14] During this extended period procreation was considered to be an autonomous 'ability' of women: men were essential to ensure the survival and defence of the social group, but only women could enhance and reintegrate it through their ability to create new individuals. This gave women a role of primary and indisputable importance within their social groups.[13][15]

This situation probably persisted during the whole Palaeolithic age. Some scholars believe the well-known Venus figurines of that age to be clear witnesses of it. During the transition to the Neolithic age, agriculture and cattle breeding became the core activities of a growing number of human communities. Breeding in particular is likely to have led women – who used to spend more time than men taking care of the cattle – to observations and considerations which gradually allowed them to discover the procreative effect of the sexual act between a male and a female.[11]

For communities which looked at sexuality just as a source of pleasure and an element of social cohesion without attaching any taboo character to it, this discovery must have led to a sense of upset[16] with consequences not only on the regulation of sexuality itself, but on the whole political, social, and economic system. The time to arrive to sufficient certainty about the mechanism of life conception must have been very long, but this time length cannot have prevented the implications of this acquired certainty from being extremely dramatic.[15] Eventually, these implications led to the model of society which – in different times and shapes – was adopted by most human cultural communities.

Still today, this social model founded on the capacity of the man to fecundate women tends globally to prevail:[17] this capacity allowed men to free themselves from the secular frustration derived from having recognized only to women the ability to generate life and led them to configure a society affirming their supremacy over women. And, of course, their supremacy over the human beings they created: their children.[18] We find an enlightening example of this social development in Aeschylus's tragedy The Eumenides. The Coryphaeus of the Erinyes blames matricidal Orestes for having shed his own blood, but God Apollo replies that this is absolutely untrue because the mother is only a wet-nurse and not a progenitor of the child, whose blood derives from his/her unique parent: the father. This argument is accepted by the judges and Orestes finally obtains a verdict of not guilty. The extreme position taken here by God Apollo did not find complete acceptance, not even in Athens. In the regions where this position originally prevailed, it was gradually abandoned facing improving scientific explanations of human procreation. But traces of this position can still be found today in some cultural systems.

The discovery of fatherhood led to the supremacy of the father lineal over the matrilineal descent – which is still characteristic of most models of family we observe today – and, most of all, to the sacral character assigned to the sexual act which was rapidly regulated by severe norms. These norms revoked the absolute freedom human beings used to enjoy with respect to their sexual behaviour, thus blaming and prohibiting all sexual acts not aimed at a fecundation of the woman. Moreover, the discovery of fatherhood and the sedentary forms of living developed during the Neolithic Age led the man to develop the first forms of private property and to defend them through conflicts – and eventually wars – with competing human beings.[18]

Father–offspring conflict[edit]

In early human history there have been notable instances of father–offspring conflicts. For example:

In more contemporary history there have also been instances of father–offspring conflicts, such as:

Categories[edit]

Biological fathers[edit]

Father and son

Non-biological (social and legal relationship)[edit]

Fatherhood defined by contact level[edit]

Non-human fatherhood[edit]

For some animals, it is the fathers who take care of the young.

Many species,[citation needed] though, display little or no paternal role in caring for offspring. The male leaves the female soon after mating and long before any offspring are born. It is the females who must do all the work of caring for the young.

Finally, in some species neither the father nor the mother provides any care.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ HUMAN GENETICS, MENDELIAN INHERITANCE retrieved 25 February 2012
  2. ^ Children Who Have An Active Father Figure Have Fewer Psychological And Behavioral Problems
  3. ^ United States. National Center for Fathering, Kansas City, MO. Partnership for Family Involvement in Education. A Call to Commitment: Fathers' Involvement in Children's Learning. June 2000
  4. ^ Children raised in fatherless families from infancy: family relationships and the socioemotional development of children of lesbian and single heterosexual mothers.
  5. ^ Children raised in fatherless families from infancy: a follow-up of children of lesbian and single heterosexual mothers at early adolescence
  6. ^ Ribak, Rivka (2001). ""Like immigrants": negotiating power in the face of the home computer". New media & society 3 (2): 220. 
  7. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-24016988
  8. ^ "Chimeras, Mosaics, and other Fun Stuff". The Tech Museum of Innovation. April 23, 2009. Retrieved October 25, 2013 
  9. ^ Garfield, CF, Clark-Kauffman, K, David, MM (Nov 15, 2006). "Fatherhood as a Component of Men's Health". Journal of the American Medical Association 19 (19): 2365. doi:10.1001/jama.296.19.2365. 
  10. ^ "Facts for Features". Retrieved October 25, 2013. 
  11. ^ a b c Jacques Dupuis, Au nome du pére. Une histoire de la paternité, Lo Rocher, 1987
  12. ^ Jacques Attali, Amours, Fayard, 2007
  13. ^ a b Jean Markale, La femme Celt/Women of the Celts, Paris, London, New York, 1972
  14. ^ James George Frazer, The Golden Bough, vol. 5-6, Robarts, Toronto, 1914
  15. ^ a b Jean Przyluski, La Grande Déesse, Payot, Paris, 1950
  16. ^ Margaret Mead, Male and female, William Morrow & C., New York, 1949
  17. ^ Rosalind Miles, Who Cooked the Last Supper? The Women's History of the World, Three Rivers Press, New York, 2001
  18. ^ a b Pierre Moussa, Notre aventure humaine, Grasset, 2005
  19. ^ a b Fernandez-Duque E, Valeggia CR, Mendoza SP. (2009). Biology of Paternal Care in Human and Nonhuman Primates. Annu. Rev. Anthropol. 38:115–30. doi:10.1146/annurev-anthro-091908-164334
  20. ^ Mendoza SP, Mason WA. (1986). Parental division of labour and differentiation of attachments in a monogamous primate (Callicebus moloch). Anim. Behav. 34:1336–47.

Bibliography[edit]