Return of the Cave Dad

His mate delivered about a baby a year, and of all the mammals, human babies require the most care...

Return of The Cave Dad

His mate delivered about a baby a year, and of all the mammals, human babies require the most care...

Return of the Cave Dad

Cave Dad's mate delivered about a baby a year, and of all the mammals, human babies require the most care. With so many little ones running around, it was all-hands-on-deck to help out. So in between trips to bag a mammoth to feed his growing family, Cave Dad spent a lot of time holding, caring for and sleeping with his offspring. 

Cave Dad wrestled with and had fun with his little ones (and probably got yelled at by mom for getting them worked up before bed-time). He passed on to his children the ways of prehistoric life outside the cave and got them ready for when it was time for them to find their own caves. 

And, he passed on to his sons, and all of us descendent dads, something very special—an innate drive to protect and care for our children and family, along with the instincts to do it well.

We “new dads” today are actually just getting back to our caveman roots. 

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It’s In Your Pre-Historic DNA

So why did this tough, teen-aged, survival of the fittest champ settle down and make huge sacrifices for his family? Brain research has given us some insight into why and how the wild teenage cave boy transformed into a monogamous family man (i.e. dad).

Keeping his children alive ignited an enormous instinctual commitment that the Cave Dad got from his paternal ancestors, whose own instinctual urges to keep their babies alive and thriving became imprinted in their genes. The lineage of Cave Dads without this instinct died out, leaving only those with it to create another generation. Survival of the fittest refers not only to strength but to compassion and care as well.

This took the form of powerful biological drivers that were passed down through his DNA to his sons, their sons, and eventually to you.

In a 70-year study of the modern Neanderthal (268 male Harvard sophomores recruited in the early 1940s) what turned out to be most important in their lives? Relationships. Family. To be needed, to protect and take care of their own. Loving and being loved. Despite our macho fantasies, these qualities turn out to be the essence of our manhood.

It’s been a relatively short time in human development between the Cave Dad and now, so modern dads still get the Cave Dad biological turbo boost. Your genetic daddy programming starts up as soon as you learn you are going to be a father and dramatically ramps up at your child’s birth. This programming will help drive you to protect, love, care, and provide for your family, no matter what. Much like the caveman, you will transform into someone special: a turbocharged, 21st Century Cave Dad.

History of Fatherhood in The Western World

So how did fathers do in the interim since Cave Dads showed us how? Great . . . until about 175 years ago. 

 In early America, most fathers spent the bulk of their waking hours with their children on their farms or in their shops, and their homes were close by. The role of fathers, with respect to their children, involved education, teaching skills and a trade, spiritual guidance, discipline, and no doubt playing. 

So what happened 175 years ago? The Industrial Revolution came into full swing and fathers were leaving their small villages and farms in droves. Henry Ford attracted thousands to Detroit where dads worked ten hours a day, six days a week and moms took care of the house and kids. With fathers earning more money, this was a step up in some ways, but a step back for fathers and children.

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By the mid-1900’s, fathers increasingly identified with their work, and this competed with their families for time, attention, and loyalty. Increasing affluence meant nicer homes with dishwashers and vacuums that made life easier for moms, who did not have nearly the same opportunities in the workforce. Moms largely took over on the home front, to the point that it was a matter of pride for mothers to roll their eyes and remark that fathers had no clue of how to take care of a baby.

Fathers embraced this opportunity to avoid dirty diapers and crying babies, and as their hands-on care diminished, their innate dad instincts went into hibernation. They didn’t know what they were giving up, and were even banned from the delivery room. When they were around, fathers were relegated to the role of breadwinners and disciplinarians (“Wait until your father gets home!”). For many, these thankless tasks were a recipe for distant relationships and, ultimately, disengagement from their children.

In the decline of dads, failure became an option for way too many. When their own fathers failed, they didn’t know what to do when they became one, many others were pushed out by family breakups, and some simply didn’t man up to the job. As a result, far too many children did not have a father who loved and cared for them, and far too many men went without the love and respect of their children.

How Dads Got Their Mojo Back

Around 1970, fatherhood in the U.S. took a big turn when dads were allowed into the delivery room to experience their babies’ births. This was a powerful experience, and dads got hands-on with burping, changing, rocking, calming, and even feeding. Their natural instincts were re-awakened and their daddy brains began running on all cylinders. Dads got back into their prehistoric groove – triggering their genetically programmed to protect, love, and care for their children no matter what.