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The Life of Dad

“If you are a dad, be proud of who you are. You are the wonderful culmination of half a million years of evolution, selected because you matter.”

Anna Machin, author of the The Life of Dad The Making of a Modern Father.

What great affirming words! Even though the focus of my work may seem to be mostly about supporting mothers, I value dads enormously, and their unique contribution to the well being of their family.

I was so glad to see an article this morning about Anna Machin’s new book in the Independent. I hope it adds fuel to the calling to automatically offer support to dads after difficult/traumatic births as well as generally help affirm the role and value of dads.

Anna Machin, an evolutionary anthropologist, had a traumatic birth 10 years ago. She received counselling but her distressed husband was offered no help.This led her to spend ten years doing scientific research and studying new and expectant fathers to explore what it means to be a father today.

I was particularly interested in her statement that 'because dads are not bound by the biological constraints of pregnancy and childbirth the role of dad is not defined by genetic relatedness, but by who steps up and fulfils the job.’ So any man can be the dad, uncles, brothers, grandfathers and male friends.

Her words speak to me of the value of parenting in community rather than in isolation and reaffirms how we can bring value and support into each others lives, once we go beyond the limitations of the nuclear or single family model.

Here is the review from Anna’s publisher about her new book:


Becoming a father is one of most common but also one of the most profoundly life-altering experiences a man can have. It is up there with puberty, falling in love and experiencing your first loss. Fifty years ago a father’s role was assumed to be clear: he went to work; he provided the pay cheque; and he acted as a disciplinarian when he got home. But today a father’s role is much more fluid and complex.

Dr Anna Machin has spent the past decade working with new and expectant fathers, studying the experiences of fathers and the questions fathers have: ‘Will fatherhood change me?’, ‘How do other men fulfil the role?’, ‘How can I help my child grow into a healthy, happy adult?’.

In The Life of Dad, Dr Machin draws on her research and the latest findings in genetics, neuroscience and psychology to tell the story of fatherhood. She will show the extraordinary physiological changes a man undergoes when he becomes a father, investigate how a man’s genes can influence what sort of father he will be, and will show how a dad makes a unique contribution to his child’s life, helping to foster independence of mind and spirit. Throughout the book, readers will encounter the voices of real dads, expectant and established, as well as fascinating insights into fatherhood from across the globe.

The Life of Dad throws out the old stereotypes of fatherhood in an entertaining and informative journey through the role of dad – helping you decide what sort of father you want to be.

‘A tour-de-force exploration of the forgotten half of the parenthood business. Essential reading for every expectant dad … and mum.’

– Robin Dunbar, professor of evolutionary psychology, University of Oxford.Welcome to your blog post.

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