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The traditional roles of mum and dad have changed radically in the last quarter of a century.
Men have reinvented
what it means to be a father in less than a generation.
In the 1970s, when I was growing up,
dads spent on average a quarter of an hour a day
involved in child-related activities.
Now, that figure's moved up to nearly two hours.
Many fathers want to be more involved in their child's upbringing. That's great.
This is the 21st century, after all.
But new research suggests that the role of the father
in bringing up their kids is far more important than we thought.
'I'm going to travel round Britain and meet some of the country's best child psychologists,
'and conduct a series of fascinating experiments.
'I'll discover how the bond between father and child forms well before birth.'
Good morning, sunshine. Are you waking up?
'And how a man's hormones change when he has a child.'
So this male, compared to what he was, say, six months ago, is a completely different hormonal animal.
I'll find out how a father's unique style of play helps his child develop and become independent.
How dads lay down their own kind of rules.
There's a limit to how much you can use the computer, and we have to set boundaries to this.
I come downstairs, and you're like, "You're not wearing that out".
But you had hot pants on.
We're not friends as such. I am the parent, yeah.
Parent first, friend afters.
'And I'll show you how a dad's relationship with his daughter
'can even influence when she reaches puberty,
'and who she marries.
'In the next hour,
'I'm going to investigate the special role a dad plays at every stage in his child's life.
'It turns out a father's relationship with his child begins even before it's born.'
Once a man's sperm fertilises the egg,
the baby grows deep inside the mother's womb over the next nine months.
Clearly, the mother has a strong bond with her child.
I've always thought that this was a world closed to the father.
But research has shown this may not be true at all.
In studies carried out in the UK,
newborns tested just four hours after birth already recognised their father's voice.
Rise and shine.
Can you hear me in there?
'I want to find out if a baby can identify its father's voice even when it's still in the womb.'
'Alice is 27 weeks pregnant.
'Her husband, Richard, likes to speak to his unborn baby as often as possible.'
Hello, are you awake in there?
-Try and wake him up.
Are you awake?
'Today, he'll see if his unborn child is listening to him.
'A sonographer will do an ultrasound scan to monitor the baby's heartbeat.'
Hi, my name's Andy. I'll be scanning you today.
'Inside the mother's abdomen, it's far from silent.
'First, I want to see what happens when the baby hears Mum's voice.'
Can you lean in and talk to the baby?
OK, hello, are we awake yet?
I can feel a little bit of kicking.
As early as 16 weeks into the pregnancy, the baby can hear its mother's voice through the womb.
The familiar sound of her voice raises the baby's heartbeat...
..a clear sign it's responding to her.
But now it's Dad's turn.
OK, Richard, let's test this out, see if the hard work's paid off. See if your baby responds to your voice.
Hello, it's Daddy.
Incredibly, it seems not only can the foetus hear voices,
but in this test, it responds more strongly to Dad than Mum.
When you were talking to the baby, the heart rate was 136,
but when you were talking to the baby, it was 144.
-That's nice to know!
-It's huge, actually.
So, the biggest reaction comes from Dad.
-More than me! You're going to have to talk to it much more!
It feels like a closer connection, it's getting a little impatient now.
We've still got to wait another three months, nearly.
It doesn't surprise me that a baby's bond with its mother starts in the womb,
but what is amazing is the fact that a father's bond with his baby can also start well before birth.
'Not only that, but startling new research reveals
'that as soon as the mother gets pregnant, the father's body starts to change as well.
'And it's all down to hormones, chemicals that race around our body and change the way we behave.
'Nature appears to have created a cocktail of hormones, specially designed to help fatherhood.
'Here at Kingston University, Dr Arthur Brennan believes these hormones
'can cause physical changes in a man, just like those in a pregnant woman.
'His research is so extraordinary, I asked to meet one of his patients.
Dr Brennan studied 282 fathers to be, including this one, Michel,
'who described an extraordinary set of symptoms when his partner became pregnant.'
Nausea, and then it became sickness, real sickness.
How would you describe that sickness?
Well, just vomiting, either in the morning or after lunch.
'Strikingly, 55% of the men in Dr Brennan's study reported symptoms similar to Michel,
'symptoms that most of us associate with pregnant mothers.'
What about your appetite? Did that increase at all?
At times I would go into a corner shop,
and just go and buy something I wouldn't eat normally because I find them disgusting,
like those big sandwiches, and I would just stuff my face with them.
'I find it difficult to understand how it's possible for a man like Michel
'to experience symptoms of pregnancy similar to a woman.
'But this is a genuine condition.
'It even has a name - Couvade Syndrome.
'Dr Brennan believes the symptoms are caused by a female hormone that lurks in all men,
'and is triggered into action when his partner becomes pregnant.'
I do definitively think there's a hormonal basis for Couvade,
namely alterations in the female hormone in men, prolactin,
during the period of the pregnancy, and shortly after birth.
Prolactin is a hormone produced inside the brain, and released into the bloodstream.
It's known as the "mothering hormone,"
as it triggers lactation in women, and their instinct to breastfeed.
But why would men produce it?
It seems they're not alone.
In the animal world, elevated levels of prolactin
have been discovered in male marmoset monkeys when they look after their young.
They are one of the few primates besides humans who share parenting.
Michel and his wife have just had their baby, and Michel has agreed to have his prolactin levels tested.
First, his blood is taken when he's on his own.
He's then asked to cuddle his new daughter, Mathilde, for 15 minutes.
Prolactin is a highly responsive hormone,
so even this brief exposure to his child should be enough to test his body's reaction.
Now we'll compare the levels of prolactin in Michel's blood before and after he's held his baby.
Thank you very much.
Here's the first result, and your second result.
Thank you very much.
OK, don't keep me in suspense any longer.
Absolutely. Yes, well, the results are very interesting.
There's an increase, there's particularly high levels of prolactin.
'Incredibly, Michel's levels of prolactin have gone up by 20%.'
These preliminary results are very encouraging.
And Michel gets some sort of evidence of where his symptoms are coming from.
It seems that just a few minutes of contact with his baby has increased his prolactin levels.
'It's amazing, but it does seem that dads have evolved these hormonal responses
'to help them play their part in bringing up the child.'
Like many fathers, Michel was present at the birth of his daughter.
But the NHS only started to allow men to be present in the delivery room in 1962.
The days of men being banned from the delivery suites are long gone.
The image of them pacing up and down the corridors,
waiting for permission to see their babies, that's a thing of the past.
In fact, a staggering 93% of fathers are now present at the births of their children.
And when they're present, this has a fascinating impact,
because of another hormone called oxytocin, also known as the "love hormone".
This is Sebastian and his partner, Lynsey.
She is about to give birth to their first child.
Take deep breaths.
Oxytocin is triggered by skin to skin contact, and creates a strong emotional bond between a couple.
It's what binds them together in lovemaking.
But it's also the hormone that controls a woman's contractions.
Studies have found that women whose partners were present and supportive during labour
were less distressed, with shorter delivery times.
Remember what the midwife said,
hold your breath, and then push again.
Sebastian's presence is a real plus.
He really helps increase the mother's oxytocin, and that makes the contractions less painful.
His presence could well be making the process of giving birth much easier.
But it can also work the other way around.
If the father is too anxious, he inhibits the oxytocin in the mother,
and that can lead to a longer and more painful labour.
Luckily, that isn't the case with Sebastian and Lynsey.
But like every new dad, as soon as the baby is born, he is checking to see who it looks like.
He's got your ears.
Hormones affect both the mother and father through pregnancy and birth,
but as soon as the birth is finished, their paths start to divide.
A mother always knows that the child is hers, whereas a father can never be absolutely sure.
Research suggests that when a new father first looks at his baby,
he instinctively searches for signs that his genes have been passed on to the next generation,
and that the baby is his.
In this study, fathers were placed in a brain scan, and shown a picture of a child they'd never seen before.
The researchers were amazed to see
that the decision-making area of their brain was immediately activated.
'Mothers, on the other hand, showed no such response.'
These images seem to suggest that fathers were actually scanning their offspring's faces
for indications of paternity.
This is proof that men are hard wired very differently to women,
and I want to know,
how does this actually affect dads' relationships with their children?
In particular, I want to find out what effect the key male hormone,
testosterone, has on the relationship.
Men produce this hormone in much higher quantities than women,
and it's strongly associated with aggression.
Across the animal kingdom, high testosterone precipitates violent and competitive behaviour in males,
especially in the mating season.
But surely this kind of testosterone-fuelled behaviour
isn't a good idea when there are small babies about.
'What happens to men's naturally aggressive behaviour when they become dads?
'I've come to Newcastle to find out.'
Nick Neave is an evolutionary psychologist,
and an expert on how testosterone controls men's behaviour.
So, Nick, testosterone gets a pretty bad press. Can you give me your take on it?
When there's babies about to be born,
you do not want some big, butch, hairy, aggressive,
violent male around these infants,
because males who are high in testosterone have low levels of frustration tolerance.
You don't want these guys flying off the handle when the baby starts to cry.
But natural selection plays a trick.
It switches off the testosterone, it damps it down,
so that they stop producing large amounts of testosterone.
Their bodies almost, in a sense, become less masculine, and slightly more feminine.
-So really levelling things out?
Testosterone levels drop down dramatically, and they seem to be better dads.
I find this an incredible revelation.
Not only are new dads flooded with female hormones like prolactin,
but the iconic male hormone, testosterone, is reduced.
After birth, a father's testosterone levels will plummet by as much as a third.
One experiment clearly demonstrates how this makes fathers behave in a more nurturing fashion.
'Nick Neave and I are going to recreate this experiment,
'to compare how this new dad acts differently to a single man.
'First, we ask the new dad to hold a baby doll, as we observe him behind a one-way mirror.
'To encourage him to act naturally, the researcher will chat to him about his family.'
-He seems very animated.
-And holding the baby quite close.
Everything felt right, it just felt like I knew exactly how to pick him up,
and I think it was looking into my own baby's eyes and stuff.
It just felt natural.
In the new dads, when you have this very artificial setting,
with a doll, it's amazing how quickly they fall into the pattern, of "This is what you do when you hold a baby."
So, there's the rocking motion.
Often, the dad will actually look down at the baby,
and poke the blanket down, and just check and then think,
"Oh, actually, it's not real."
'It's thought that even the smell of a newborn baby can reduce a father's testosterone level.
'So, the doll has been wrapped in a blanket from his own baby.'
Although this is a doll, one wonders about the effect of having your own baby's blanket around.
Even though the doll's not real, and he knows it's not real,
he's still responding honestly to it, because I think he's getting the smell from the baby.
That's going to have a big impact upon his hormone system.
The pheromones given off from the blanket, which are the baby's,
will be having an impact on his hormones, they'll be lowering the testosterone.
Male hormones are at their lowest levels since way before puberty.
They'll never be as low again.
So, this male, compared to what he was, say, six months ago, is a completely different hormonal animal.
'The powerful bond this father has with his child has transformed him biologically.
'Next, he is subjected to the sound of a crying baby. How will he react?
'Remember, his testosterone is far less than a single man.'
Looking down a little bit.
Now, crying, of course, as we know, is possibly the most stressful sound that a human can hear.
He's making sure to calm the baby, saying, "Look, it's OK, Dad's here,
there's not a danger, it's fine, Dad's in control," and he's doing a super job.
He's rubbing the baby, he's patting the baby,
it's very hard to believe that that is a doll.
'This new dad can't help himself.
'He's clearly demonstrating nurturing behaviour, even though he knows it's a doll.
'This experiment really works.'
It is amazing, because, you know, blokes are perceived as being these gruff,
dour, insensitive, not very caring and emotional.
But if you put them in a situation like this,
the change in them is amazing.
It just makes me think, at that very early stage when you do get this drop in testosterone,
thank goodness, because this is an opportunity to get the best out of dads.
Yes, that's right, that's right.
'Our new dad's low testosterone level has increased his tolerance, and calmed him down.'
He's done a brilliant job.
'So, how will a single man, brimming with testosterone, do when he holds a doll?
'Will he feel as compelled to comfort it?'
What do you think of when you see a baby?
I don't think of anything, I just associate it with a child, it's just a baby.
Our non-dad here, he's relaxed.
There's no tucking in of the baby, there's no comforting.
-I'm not even sure there's any looking.
He's just sitting perfectly relaxed, like he's holding a sack of spuds.
Yes. And he's quite engaged with the person he's talking to.
-That's the relationship he knows and understands.
Certainly, the hormone response is very different,
because single males have the highest levels of testosterone.
They are in mating mode, rather than parent mode,
and all the studies carried out show that single males have the higher levels of testosterone.
As soon as you enter into a long-term relationship, your levels drop.
As soon as that relationship bears children, it drops again.
And this makes perfectly good sense from an evolutionary point of view.
'Now, the sound of a baby in distress is played to the single man.'
'Will it trigger a protective instinct in him?'
Look, he's just sort of, "For goodness sake!"
"What is this row? What does this mean?"
He hasn't once looked at the baby.
He's really cut off, isn't he?
Fed up is the word. "I've been exposed to this loud noise, and it's meaningless to me."
-This looks like a young man who will be very happy to be relieved of this baby.
He has other things to think about, and it's not babies.
And of course, that makes perfect sense. It's not what he wants.
Very mechanical handover.
Yes, "Quick, there you go, let me out of here."
The difference in behaviour between the new dad and the single man is there to protect the baby.
After hundreds of thousands of years, evolution has created men to be aggressive.
But it has also given them the ability to switch on a paternal instinct
at exactly the right moment.
It's incredible to think that men have this dramatic physical response to fatherhood,
a drop in testosterone which turns even the most macho men into gentle fathers.
As a child grows, it becomes less vulnerable,
and the dad's testosterone level starts to creep up.
But hopefully, by then, he's already developed the skills to be a good dad.
This group is called Hit the Ground Crawling,
and it was set up by fathers who want to pass on their parenting skills to dads to be.
If he starts crying or barfs on you, it's not my fault.
You signed your disclaimer, mate! That's it, OK.
What's interesting is that each time the father is exposed to his child, he bonds more and more.
His testosterone may have risen since the birth,
but his instincts are still to nurture and protect the child.
After all, the child carries his DNA,
and by protecting it, he is ensuring that his genes live on after him.
The bonding process is vital, it calms him down,
and this is enough to counterbalance his rising testosterone.
But just in case his emotions and hormones aren't in the right balance,
it's worth reinforcing the skills of basic childcare.
Here you are. Let's just chuck some in so she knows what's coming.
There you go! Oh, is that all right?
Childcare is not always this easy.
It can lead to stress and strain.
Didn't even last five minutes.
When the caring emotions aren't enough to counter a potentially dangerous rise in testosterone,
this may cause frustration and aggression.
In extreme circumstances, it can lead to reactions such as Shaken Baby Syndrome.
The thing about Shaken Baby Syndrome
is that the overwhelming proportion of perpetrators are male.
It's dads and male carers that do this, like yourselves, and like me.
The egg represents the baby's brain,
and the Tupperware represents the baby's skull.
Now, we've all heard babies cry here today, and, over a prolonged period,
I defy anyone not to get slightly uptight with it.
But you can be there, suddenly it turns six o'clock in the morning,
and you're still there, and, suddenly, you can snap.
And you just go, "Will you please shut up?!"
And we have a destroyed egg there.
But what that represents is something quite serious in the way of brain damage.
'Even though men need to be careful of their own strength,
'research has shown that their masculine physicality actually has a very important role to play
'in bringing up kids.
'To investigate exactly how an ultra-masculine father
'can be good for a child's early development, I'm heading off to the University of Lancaster.
'So far, I've learned how the arrival of a new baby
'triggers hormonal and behavioural changes in a father.
'Now I want to find out just what impact a dad will have as the baby grows into a toddler.
'I'm here to meet one the UK's leading experts on fatherhood,
'psychologist Professor Charlie Lewis.'
Hi, Laverne, I'm Charlie. Very good to meet you.
'In a lab fitted with cameras, he's going to demonstrate that the physical way dads play
'can help their children to learn.
'Professor Lewis has asked Joe and his 15-month-old son, Jamie, to play together in the lab.
'It's not long before they start some rough and tumble play.'
This is classic rough-house chasing.
He puts in the odd bit of classic rough and tumble, that "Ah-ha-ha-ha-ha!"
The dad is trying to introduce him to sudden bursts of activity,
which is potentially dangerous. If you're falling towards him,
there's an element of danger every time you do it.
That rough-housing we saw, where's that going to take the child's development?
It's allowing him to exert power, but also to realise the limits of power.
So you can't smash into your father, and continue to play or get away with it.
So he's learning limits.
'This kind of play teaches a child when to respect boundaries, but also how to explore beyond them.'
Dads do see it as their prerogative to extend the limits of the security of the child.
They're always just pushing the child more, where mums are a little bit hesitant.
They have the strength and the power to sort of hold the child away, and throw them around if they want to.
And children learn to expect it.
They do. They seek their dads out to do it. They don't just expect it.
They really find it one of the high spots of the day.
I really believe a dad's style of play can help their child develop,
by teaching them how to push their limits and take risks.
See if you can stand up. See if you can stand up.
See if you can stand up.
Ha-ha! I told you!
-Daddy, I don't want to go on here.
-That's all right. We'll just do it a tiny little bit.
Ready? Try again. I'll hold this.
A father's influence extends even further.
Their particular style of play can spur language development.
'The reason is that dads tend to use less baby talk, and more adult language.'
You've heard that father say to the child, "It's a bad design."
There's something peculiar about a father's language,
because they use words that the child is not used to.
Mums are constantly adapting their vocabulary so the child knows the word,
whereas dads make these terrible mistakes.
Using this very different word that a child has no understanding of,
that does help them spur their language on.
Exactly. We know this from countless studies,
that this is the function that many dads seem to serve.
Research has shown that fathers have greater impact than mothers
on their children's language development between the ages of two and three.
And the larger the vocabulary a father used,
the higher their child scored on language tests a year later.
Are we insured?
Right, here we go again.
'Dads not only use longer words, but they encourage more complex uses of language,
'such as wit and sarcasm.'
Let's see if we get another bit.
He said it in a very nice, ironical way.
So, he's also introducing a style there.
"I think you're doing this on purpose," smile,
as if to say "Don't you dare,"
at the same time as ironising the situation in a pleasant way.
The father's language tends to be slightly more intense than the mother's,
with the odd huge long sentence in there for self-amusement.
In fact, Dad's playfulness leads many toddlers to see him as the more popular, fun parent.
Mummy's here. Hiya.
'Now Mum's come to join them. Look what happens when Dad leaves.'
-Oh, look, he's going to follow Dad.
You responded to that as if you felt, "Yep, that's exactly what he should have done."
Some people say that when you're involved in play,
then, particularly at the toddler stage,
kids will walk around the mum to get the father's attention.
Many mums report feeling really quite cut up about that, but it only works in this particular context.
The boy's still not playing. He's at the door. He's saying, "I want Dad.
"You're not good enough to play with these toys.
"You don't use the word "design" to me." There we are.
'Eventually, the child returns and plays for a while.
'But then the toys are removed to see how Mum and child interact.'
See you later. Bye.
So, what do we typically see of mothers when they're playing with their children?
Physical play which is more measured.
Of course, there's an overlap between mums and dads,
but the stereotype that mums are much more passive,
and they don't get in there and say, "Yes, let's get on with it." This is almost an archetypal example of that.
I'm really impressed by how a dad's influence is so different from a mum's.
His behaviour encourages a child to explore beyond their comfort zone,
with both language and rough and tumble play.
Dads' instinct to play seems completely right to me.
This is pivotal to their experience with their child.
They're teaching about independence, what it feels like to have a range of emotions.
And when you look in the playground, you see children involved in games which are making them scared,
making them happy, and this is really important for their development.
So, when it comes to playing, dads seem to tick all the boxes.
When a child enters school, the intense family bond is replaced with new-found independence.
Children are learning about how the world is organised,
and how to differentiate between groups of people.
'An important step in doing this is to identify the difference between the two genders.
'I asked seven-year-olds Lucy and Josh to draw a picture
'of the kind of things their parents do for them at home, with some telling insights.'
Hello. Can you tell me about all the people in your drawing and what they're doing?
That one's my dad, and he's playing football with me.
My dad's the one that can play with me a lot,
and my mum usually does the washing up.
And my mum also does the cooking.
Who plays with you more, Mum or Dad?
What sort of things do you play?
Well, he gives me piggy-backs.
And your mum? What's your mum doing?
Well, she's cooking the dinner for us.
'Even in this modern age, it appears that more children
'see their mums as the nurturer, and their dads as the entertainer.
'So I thought I'd better ask some more children, "What are dads for?" to see if they agreed.'
What are dads for?
Dads are for when you need some money,
and they play with you, and they do jokes, and they read you some stories at bedtime.
My dad's very funny, and he's cheeky,
and he always snuggles in my bed when I'm sleeping, and annoys me.
What's the difference between your mum and dad?
Well, my dad always watches the football, and my mum always cleans up.
If your mum is busy and you didn't have a dad, you wouldn't have much fun.
'It's not fair. All these kids see their dads as the fun parent.'
But if there's only one parent, the roles of mum and dad have to merge.
Morning! Let's get you sorted for school, darling.
What's really interesting is that single fathers parent in different ways to single mums.
This is Neville. He looks after his daughter Alicia.
Alicia's mother left just after she was born, six years ago.
Study of single fathers has shown that men like Neville
are just as capable of raising children as single mums,
but in a different way.
-Your hands are cold.
-Your hands are cold, Daddy.
Because I'm going to tilt you off, aren't I? Look, see.
In contrast to single mums,
single fathers place more emphasis on teaching their children to be independent,
by making the learning of life lessons fun.
They're still the entertainers.
Look, there's a face. Hello.
In fact, they can make even the most mundane task into a game.
Hang on, armpit check.
Although they like to play,
single dads find it more important than single mums to set up a controlled routine in the home.
Every morning it's the same thing. We do it every day, we do it every single day.
It makes life easy for me, and it makes life easier for her,
we're going to have a bit of a giggle doing it.
I've got two heads. Why have I got two heads?
That's all right, then!
The kids of single dads are more likely to eat breakfast and dinner at a regular time.
Here you are, babe. Lissy, Lissy, sit up, baby.
All right, have that. Have some tomato.
This routine establishes a stronger sense of security,
producing children who are more independent and mature.
Yeah, and we'll catch you up.
'And it's not just the children of single fathers who find learning fun.
'All children with fathers who are involved in their early years
'turn up for school with more confidence, show more patience, and can maintain interest in their work.
'And studies have shown that this effect is so powerful,
'it leads to kids who are twice as likely to achieve high grades at school.
'They are also less likely to show delinquent behaviour, or to end up with a criminal record.
'This is all good news, but fathers have one last key role to play,
'the hardest of all, when their kids hit the difficult teenage years.'
As a child moves toward adulthood, the challenge for many dads is how to handle their teenage sons.
Many men believe that the best place to bond with their child is right here, on the football pitch.
And it's a place where they can push their children to achieve, a job that they do rather well.
Fathers are more far likely than mothers to encourage their children to be ambitious and competitive.
This event has been organised by a group called Dads And Lads,
to give fathers an opportunity to remain involved in their sons' lives,
but no longer as the entertainer.
My dad comes and watches some of my games, and after the game he gives me a good bit of advice.
Sometimes he may criticise how I played,
but at the end of the day, it's still helping me progress and be a good footballer,
so hopefully some of the stuff he says could push me into an academy level.
In the teenage years, a father's role of pushing a child forward
often involves disciplining them when they've overstepped the mark.
A dad's more dominating physique naturally gives them the upper hand,
and explains why mums often rely on the phrase "wait until your father gets home".
What's more important?
Being their friend, or being the disciplinarian?
I try and explain to him that we're not friends as such.
I am the parent, yeah. Parent first, friend afterwards.
As he's getting older, you know, what his mum says to him sometimes doesn't get through to him,
so, yeah, I am the disciplinarian.
He will listen to me once I give him the look.
It's a bit of education really,
so once they know where they've gone wrong and you show them, hopefully they won't do it again.
Keep going, keep going, Joshua. Let's go.
Even though a man's strength puts him at an advantage as a disciplinarian,
research shows that fathers are more effective at controlling behaviour
when they explain their rules to a child, rather than punish them.
And what's really surprising is, that this is a job they often do better than mums.
'To see this in action, I've come to meet psychologist
'Professor Jay Belsky, of Birkbeck College London.
'We've invited two families to take part
'in a study that should reveal how mothers and fathers discipline their children differently.'
Please have a seat.
'First up on the other side of the one-way mirror is mum Lisa and her 16-year-old daughter Danielle.
'Professor Belsky has asked them to discuss a source of conflict.'
I know we don't really have many arguments,
-so I chose phone, because I know you don't like me being on the phone too much.
So, Jay, tell me, what are you expecting this test to show?
I think typically what you're going to see with a mother and a daughter,
or a mother and a son, even,
is discourse that's more about relationships, about feelings, about consideration of others.
If I'm texting, you'll be like, "Get off that phone. Come here and do this instead".
But I do think sometimes when you're on the phone it's a bit rude,
your sister'll be round, she'll come to visit you,
so I think you need to not spend so much time...
I don't realise that I'm doing it.
It sounded quite reasonable, though, for a teenager.
And the mother is giving her time and space, she's not cutting her off, not intruding.
What I don't like about what you do...
And notice how here, "What I don't like", it's personal, it's relation.
You're doing something to me.
Not, "You're violating a legal principle, or a rule".
'Their conversation swiftly moves on to chores.'
I tell you what you do annoy me about.
When you're home from school, you don't do nothing.
Mum, it's so much harder.
When you're at school you don't do nothing, because you look at it as going to work every day.
And sometimes now I look at you and I think you do do a lot,
-so I can understand that you don't need to do nothing when you're at home.
Notice how the mother, in this case, sort of, clearly empathised with the child.
You could see it in her face. It's like, "I know what you're feeling".
Then she said, "I understand where you're coming from".
Mothers are more likely to do it than the average father.
Hi, thank you very much. We're going to swap Mum and Dad now.
'Next up is Danielle's dad, Danny, and a conflict that's all too familiar,
'what his daughter wears.
'Will he try and understand her point of view?'
Guess what I chose?
When I get ready and I come downstairs and you're like,
"You're not wearing that out", but then, you can't say that.
I can when it's too revealing, isn't it?
The first thing he did was he challenged the daughter. He wasn't empathising with her.
He wasn't understanding where she was coming from. He was posing a challenge.
-So, a very different style.
-He's challenging her. He's disagreeing with her.
There's no evidence that he's understanding what's being negotiated here is our relationship.
It's like the other night, I was wearing tights. That's...
-There's nothing wrong with that.
-Yeah, but you had hot pants on.
Yeah, but with tights underneath.
-You let me go out before...
-It depends where you're going.
Going out as a family, it's different when you go out to parties.
Say that I'm going to a party next weekend, you'd let me wear them out, yeah?
Depending what the party was, isn't it?
See, rational, logical, counter.
I mean, this could be a dispute or discussion between two attorneys.
It could indeed.
Silk tops and everything else, isn't it?
-"There's places you can go in that outfit, and places you can't."
Next time, just tell me, because you just say no. You'd say, "No, you're not wearing that".
He seems very different to Mum, as if he's not even going to try and understand her position.
That's right. This is a matter of his principles, his rules, right or wrong,
-"You're not going out dressed like that."
-And that's it. End of story.
-And that is how the world is.
We have to pay our taxes, we don't like it. We have to stop at the red light even if want to keep going.
That's the world he's representing. There's a world out there that doesn't care what you're feeling.
'Next up is a very different family, the Sheths.
'Will I see similar differences between the parents of 14-year-old Kishan?
'Before he can even state his complaint, his mother Raj jumps in.'
And we need to really address the issues of going out a little bit less,
and spending a little less money.
So, where is all this money going?
When I go out with my friends, I do spend money.
I don't go out that often.
You say you don't do this often, but you've been going out with friends all week, most of the week.
-Most of the week.
I'd like you to just consider that, you know, obviously,
we've got not just yourself to think about, but your sister as well.
You have to pull your weight. How about tidying your room up?
How about helping your sister?
Well, I think the first thing we saw that was typical about Mum is the appeal to relationships.
Time with me, time with family, time with relatives.
-When your uncle comes over and you're on the computer, it's...
-I do come down.
You come down, you say hello, and then you go back up.
-Ah, so here, come back to relationships.
When you're on the computer and somebody comes over to visit us,
what I would like you to do is turn the computer off,
come down, and then forget about the computer,
and wholeheartedly stay there, and give it your 100% there.
Now, she did say, "What I would like you to do".
She's appealing to my feelings.
"I want you to be responsive to my feelings. Be more considerate.
"Be more considerate of my feelings, your daddy's, your sister's, your uncle's."
And also, "Are you prepared to work with me?" You know.
Not, "Are you prepared to follow a principle?" but again, appealing to me.
'So, what approach will Kishan's dad use to try and change his son's behaviour?'
The first topic is the use of the computer. I know I use the computer a lot.
But that doesn't just necessarily mean it's for social networking or gaming. I do, I do a lot of that.
Every time I've come to your room, you're always on computer.
During the evenings, but that's when you come back.
Yeah, but you are on Facebook.
-OK, but I multitask.
Say, for example, I'm reading Bitesize for an exam,
-I would also...
-Your Facebook is not...
My Facebook would be open.
Yeah, but Facebook is not for education.
A principle, a rule.
There's nothing about "I want to spend time with you".
At the end of the day, there's a limit to how much you can use computer,
and we have to set boundaries to that.
'Typical of dads, Manoj doesn't rely on emotional arguments.
'And the same way I saw with fathers and sons on the football pitch,
'Manoj is setting clear rules and boundaries to prepare his son for the wider world.'
These could be partners in a business deciding salary raises,
or where to make investments, or who's unhappy with that.
It's all fact, evidence, analytical discourse.
This father, unknowingly, probably unwittingly,
is preparing his child nicely for the world, and that use of reason, rationale, logic, analysis,
should be good for lots of other things besides just, you know,
trying to get more computer time from your dad.
'Dads are really important in helping teenagers prepare for the bigger world.
'A dad's style of discipline teaches a child to deal with the real world they will encounter as an adult.
'Research confirms that whereas kids look to their mothers for day-to-day care and emotional support,
'they rely on their dads for factual information.
'And it's the knowledge of these hard facts that helps prepare them for the adult world.'
Dads can clearly have a big psychological impact on their adolescent children,
but what's amazing is that they can also have a biological impact as well,
especially when it comes to their daughters.
'And to find out how, I've come to Durham University,
'to hear about some extraordinary new research from psychologist Dr Lynda Boothroyd.'
So, Lynda, tell me about your research.
There's been now a whole slew of studies,
which have shown that girls who grow up what we call
"father absent", who for some or all of their childhood don't have their father living with them,
tend to start their periods six months to a year
before the girls who actually have their parents both married and happy all the way through their childhood.
-So puberty's earlier?
-Yeah, actually, physically earlier.
Gosh, that's incredible. Fathers are actually having a biological effect.
Potentially, yes. And one of the questions I then started asking is,
if there's one possible biological effect happening at puberty, what else is happening at puberty?
Can we see other physical changes, for instance in the face?
Dr Boothroyd took photos of two groups of female students.
She studied a group of hundreds of girls who'd grown up with their fathers,
and another group of hundreds of girls whose fathers had been absent.
'Then, to compare the two groups,
'Dr Boothroyd created "average faces" from each group.'
I can use a computer programme to mark out the sort of two-dimensional map of each face,
and then produce the average that blends together the shape and the colour of all four faces.
So, what I'm going to do now is I'm going to show you two composite faces.
The face of women who report that their parents never lived together,
or separated before they reached puberty.
The other is a group of girls who said their parents
remained together and had a very good relationship when they were children.
And what I want you to tell me is which one looks older?
-Which one looks older?
So, this is the girls who reported that their parents had separated when they were children,
and who may have been experiencing puberty earlier, and therefore may just look that little bit older.
That is pretty incredible, isn't it?
Yeah. I was really struck by it when I first saw it.
I only did it out of curiosity in the first place, but I was really quite surprised.
'Dr Boothroyd began to suspect that girls without fathers grow up faster,
' as a kind of self-defence mechanism.'
This makes sense when we consider our evolutionary past.
A girl without a dad would need to secure the protection of another male,
and to do so, she would need to reach sexual maturity as early as possible.
Even now, the effect a dad has on the age his daughter reaches puberty is still very important.
Early puberty has been linked to early sexual activity.
And it seems that a teenage girl is two and a half times more likely to get pregnant
if her father is not involved in her life.
Dads clearly have a major effect on their daughters' physical development,
but I'm about to find out they can also have a huge effect
on who their daughters choose to marry or live with.
-Dad, will you help us?
-Give us a sec.
This is Rebecca, and her father Peter.
She's a typical teenager.
-What's that like?
As girls mature,
fathers become increasingly important in how daughters relate to the opposite sex.
Rebecca is 14, and without even being aware of it,
her taste in men is being strongly influenced by her father's personality.
A lot of lads are bit like...
They love themselves a bit too much, and you think, well, you wouldn't want to be with someone like that.
I like them who are funny, and have a laugh, like practical jokers as well, like my dad is.
It's probably no surprise her father will influence the type of partner Rebecca picks.
What is a surprise is that research has shown women marry men who don't just behave like their fathers,
but also look like their fathers.
I wondered, could this really be true?
'Back in Durham, Lynda Boothroyd has designed a test to prove it to me.'
-Hi. Thanks for coming.
'Dr Boothroyd has asked some married women
'to bring pictures of their husbands
'and their fathers when they were at a similar age, so they can be compared.
'The pictures of the husbands and fathers are cut out and mixed up.
'In the next part of the experiment,
'a group of five volunteers will try and spot any resemblances
'between these women's husbands and their fathers.'
So, what we have here is a row of women's fathers at the top,
and a row of women's husbands at the bottom.
'The volunteers' task is to study the faces of the men,
'then match the ones of the fathers in the top row to the husbands in the bottom row.'
'Dr Boothroyd's hypothesis is that when a woman is seeking a husband,
'she will choose a man who looks like her father,
'IF she had a good relationship with him when she was growing up.
'While they match the pictures, I decided to meet the wives,
'and hear what they thought of their fathers and husbands.'
-Have your biological parents ever separated?
How much warmth do you remember from your dad, where nine is a great deal, and one is not so much?
Where would you put the marker?
-Nine? OK. Do you think your husband looks like your father?
I don't think he looks like my dad, but I think he's like my dad in lots of mannerisms, yes.
What do you think about your father and your husband?
Do you think they're similar?
-Yes, their characters are very similar.
-Can you tell me more?
-Same sense of humour.
-So they get along?
-They get along very well, yes.
'Lynda's ready to look at the results.
'This is an experiment she's done before on a much larger scale,
'and today, her findings confirm what she's observed before.
'The volunteers have correctly matched fathers and husbands
'significantly more often than they would have done by chance.
'In all of our cases, the women got on well with their dads.
'Out of today's pictures,
'one father and husband pair had such a close resemblance they were correctly matched by everyone.'
Our strongest match was between the husband and father of a woman
who had a good relationship with her father throughout her life.
That definitely fits in with exactly what we predict.
We can see that they've got very similar-shaped noses, they've got similar jaw lines,
they both have very flat, quite thick eyebrows in these pictures.
'What does Dr Boothroyd think is the reason for a woman being attracted to a man who looks like her father?'
We're not born with a perfect image of "this is a man, this is a woman,
"this is their faces, and this is who I'm going to marry one day,"
and so what a father is doing when he's spending time with his children,
is that he is allowing the child to use his face as a model of what a face should be,
and to, over time, build up this image of a male face for that child.
What do you think this is telling you about the important role fathers have?
They're not just a behavioural role model for their children,
they're also a physical model, to learn what people look like.
All the women that I spoke to said
they had a good relationship with their dads, and they recognised that that relationship was continuing now
into the couple relationships they were having as adults.
So, for me, that's fairly conclusive. Women do choose partners that make them feel comfortable,
and remind them of a relationship that's gone before.
Hello in there. Hello!
It's amazing to think that fathers can influence their offspring from before birth,
right up until the time for them to choose their own partners.
But more than that, I've seen what fathers can offer that mothers instinctively might not.
'They promote their children's independence and encourage them to explore,
'while still setting clear boundaries.'
Fathers teach their kids
how to understand and accept the rules of the grown-up world they're about to enter.
'Every child, like this little girl, is a product of its parents,
'influenced by both the mother and the father.'
And when this little girl grows up, her father will provide a model of how men should treat her.
But what I find extraordinary,
is how evolution has carefully crafted fathers into the perfect complement for mothers,
on both a biological and a psychological level.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
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