THERE are many scientific studies on how fatherhood can transform a man – rewiring his brain and equipping him with baby senses that only women were once thought to have. Outside of these neurological benefits, fatherhood also has the ability to teach real-life lessons, and help to shape even once clueless fathers and half-hearted men into better men.
All Woman asked a few fathers to share just how the gift of fatherhood has helped them to transform into better men.
Dex, 29, IT specialist:
It has taught me to more responsible, to be more proactive and conscious about the decisions and movements that I intend to make. It has also brought me to a place where it is easy to put another human first – to be selfless and to sacrifice and to be joyful in doing that. I also now know that not all decisions will be easy to make, but I now have to think long-term and understand that it will be for the greater good of my family and I. There are other elements such as protection; I have a daughter and I know that I don't want to fail her so it has definitely heightened my fighter instinct, after all it is a man's duty to fight for his family. I've also learnt that sometimes it's not about money or getting things, but spending time, putting away the phone and really engaging my child. I had to make greater efforts to invest in a home for my family and become truly committed to her mother – only being able to visit my child became unattractive to me. I needed to carry my weight as caregiver to my child at any hour of the day or night – more than ever I saw the value in family. To be honest, fatherhood opened my eyes to many things and this was even before my daughter was born. I am partying less to save more, engaging less in recreational drinking and other sports, and I don't feel deprived of these things at all so it's a good look.
Kemar, 32, teacher:
Fatherhood is a very important stage in manhood in the sense that it teaches you how to be more responsible, teaches you a different type of love and care, and also one of the roles that have been ascribed to females – affection. I can honestly say that when I became a father, I don't know about any other man, but affection was transferred to me as well. It has taught me problem-solving skills, how to be gentle, to be patient, to be kind, to be tolerant, to exercise wisdom when disciplining a child, and to be understanding. Important to note is that these do not stop with my child; as an educator I can show the children I encounter these same kinds of qualities and it influences the way I treat every human in general.
Gareth, 34, engineer:
It is difficult to explain how fatherhood has made me into a man, but I will say this – fatherhood has taught me many valuable lessons and changed my perspective on more things than I thought that it could. It has taught me how to love in a way that I didn't even know was possible, how to make sacrifices, to focus on the bigger picture; so I have abandoned some of the small thinking that came with youth because I want to ensure that my child has the best opportunities in life. Being a father makes me understand that if I want better for my child, I just want better for myself too because my child will need the best man to be her role model. She will need the best version of a man to give her advice, to guide her in her decisions, to teach her how to manage difficult situations. It taught me to be emotional, yes emotional, I had to get in there and tap into that side because I want to be the first person my daughter comes to when she is hurt or she needs help. It has also made me a better provider, a better listener, a better communicator and kinder.
Tarik, 29, computer engineer:
I would say it has taught me sacrifice – every parent has sacrificed something from time to time and this is a huge part of fatherhood and being a man. Whether it's that dream vacation or dream car, when the kids come along we parents have to put our own dreams on hold to ensure we have the ability – financial and otherwise – to raise our children. It has taught me to enjoy the joy of simple things, patience, to be nurturing, to be someone's go-to person, to be firm, to be brave and to love some more.
Christopher, 22, auto mechanic:
It taught me that it doesn't matter what happens, I should be there for my child in every way I can. It makes me want to grind harder, and taught me that I don't need a tonne of girls to prove my masculinity. I don't need to prove anything to anyone, and I just learn to walk away from things that could get me in trouble and just to do everything to change my situation so that I can change the world for my son.