By Michele Goodwin
For centuries, researchers have studied multiple aspects of women’s reproduction. Research tells us when women are more likely to become pregnant, when infertility kicks in, and even offers significant insights into the psychological dimensions of pregnancy and mothering from the dopamine release associated with breastfeeding to the potential for postnatal depression to occur after birth. Perhaps for this reason, lawmakers and courts tend to focus on women’s environment and conduct, during pregnancy, as the space to promote fetal health and well-being with an eye toward healthy child development.
Has anything been missing? Until recently, very limited attention has focused on paternity. Decades-old studies linking paternity to mental health conditions such as schizophrenia are valuable, but sadly overlooked. And recent research linking older paternity to autism is just beginning to gain attention. Adding to this discourse and carving out unique pathways for understanding paternity is Professor Wendy Goldberg at the University of California at Irvine.
In her book, Father Time: The Social Clock and the Timing of Fatherhood, she takes up overlooked phenomenon, involving fathering. For example, do men experience postnatal depression? It turns out that they do–and more. Some expecting-fathers experience neuroticism, and even jealousy. Goldberg studies different age groups to explain how the “social” clock for dads impacts their relationships with offspring, partners, as well as how it impacts fathers’ mental health. It adds to an important, growing literature.