Feature

Editor's Letter: Money, time, and testosterone too

When my older daughter, Julia, was still in her crib, I found myself not only changing diapers and preparing bottles, but singing Barney’s “I Love You” song to console her at the end of each show.

I knew that my daughters had cost me a staggering amount of money, and much of my free time. But until last week, I didn’t know about the testosterone. After men become fathers, a new study found, male-hormone levels fall about 30 percent; the more involved dads are in parenting their kids, the more their testosterone declines. (See Health & Science.) For any of us modern dads, this can come as no shock. When my older daughter, Julia, was still in her crib, I found myself not only changing diapers and preparing bottles, but singing Barney’s “I Love You” song to console her at the end of each show, and imitating the voices of every train on Thomas the Tank Engine. (My Gordon was particularly excellent.) When Jessica was 6, I read aloud at bedtime every one of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s eight Little House on the Prairie novels. This, from a guy who resisted marriage until he was 35. I knew I’d been utterly domesticated, like a stallion who’d been gelded so he’d be more agreeable, and more useful around the farm.

And yet… Though I knew nothing about child care going in, I found it completely natural to join my wife in nurturing and raising our girls. Fatherhood, in fact, has provided the most deeply satisfying moments I’ve had on this planet, and when I’m done here, it will be what I look back on with the most pride. Nature is wise: Most of us Y-chromosome types can spare some testosterone, which usually gets us into trouble anyway. To be whole, men require some yin to offset all that yang. Got to wrap this up now, because I’ve got to take Jessie to CVS to buy her toiletries, makeup, and hair products.   

William Falk

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