Happy nappy days for fathers can improve overall lifestyle

Fatherhood can improve your health, wealth, and happiness, says Jonathan deBurca Butler

IT has been quite the 12 months in the world of the daddy. Here, the Government has mooted that parental leave will be extended to fathers.

Though this particular father will miss out, (that’s the plan anyway, and read on to find out why it’s increasingly likely after this article) it is good news.

In the United States, new dad Ashton Kutcher caused a bit of a stir and got plenty of support when he took to Twitter to complain about the lack of changing facilities in men’s rooms.

In Scotland, 2016 was rolled out as the Year of the Dad, with help from the Scottish government.

Across the globe, there is little doubt that fathers are now getting more recognition, and as a result their lives, input, and role in society are being researched to a greater degree.

That research has thrown up some interesting results. For instance, according to a study published in the ‘Academy of Management Perspectives’ journal last year, men who have families to return to at the end of the day are happier at work.

On the surface, the report, which surveyed 970 working men, looks good for fathers, but I wondered whether they were happier at work because they weren’t at home.

Certainly, for me, there have been times in the past when Monday couldn’t come quickly enough. Work was something of a refuge, and as I bolted out the door, I breathed for the first time in what felt like days.

That feeling does happen less now, I have to say, but everyone needs space. That goes for mothers too.

The same report concluded that fathers “are less likely to think about quitting their jobs”. In other words, they can’t take any more risks because if they do, there is less likelihood of them getting the meagre sex they are currently getting.

Speaking of sex, another survey conducted by parenting website Channel Mum (whose target audience is?) suggested last year that a majority of the 1,118 couples they interviewed claimed their sex lives were better after having children.

(Please note: As a journalist, I am duty-bound to comment on this research, but as a man who would like to have sex again, I cannot, without getting myself and every other man bar-none that I have spoken to on the matter into trouble. Thank you for understanding.)

Another interesting piece of research by the National Institute of Mental Health in the United States discovered that fathers who had positive relationships with their children had increased psychological well-being.

Again, I find this unsurprising. Aren’t all positive relationships good for your health? But what happens to the fathers who have terrible relationships with their children? The research is apparently backed up by psychologist Dr Rosalind Barnett, who claims: “Dads are less likely to have chest pain, insomnia, fatigue, indigestion, and dizziness.”

OK, the insomnia bit I agree with. I have no trouble getting to sleep.

Staying asleep is the problem, ergo Dr Barnett’s view on fatigue is just rubbish (throw as many stats at me as you like and I’ll still say rubbish).

An idylic walk in the park for Jonathan deBurca Butler with his two sons, Luke, 2, and Fionn, 4, can quickly turn into a high-pitched headache. But despitre the ups and downs, Jonathan agrees with studies that show that men who spend time with their children have increased psycholical well being.
An idylic walk in the park for Jonathan deBurca Butler with his two sons, Luke, 2, and Fionn, 4, can quickly turn into a high-pitched headache. But despitre the ups and downs, Jonathan agrees with studies that show that men who spend time with their children have increased psycholical well being.

The reason I have no chest pain, dizziness, or indigestion anymore is because I quit smoking, drinking, and eating kebabs about four years ago, which incidentally corresponds to the arrival of my first-born.

Not because I wanted to (OK, I’m being hyper tongue-in-cheek now) but because I had to. And that takes me to another bit of research that I came across recently.

Dads earn more money than single men. Yep, yet another research bunch, The Institute For Public Policy Research, revealed earlier this year that full-time working fathers on average out-earn their childless counterparts by a fifth — receiving a 22% wage ‘bonus’.

That’s great news. The bad news is that instead of it going to the kebab shop, Paddy Power, or Aer Lingus (remember those weekend breaks to Copenhagen?) it goes to Pampers, dodi manufacturers, and, most recently, the writers, editors, and publishers of that well known and highly-thought-of academic journal, Peppa Pig magazine (long story).

Of course, no report on reports would be complete without some research from Scandinavia (pesky blonde types and their sensible happiness). A Finnish report on public health, albeit dating from 2012, found that men living alone are up to 80% more likely to be diagnosed with depression than those with families.

It’s an interesting stat and one I am finally prepared to go along with.

Because for all the dirty nappies, giving out, ordering around, crying, fighting, lack of money and free time, and whatever else you care to throw into the mix, there is one truth I don’t need any research for.

Since my kids have come along, I have never been as consistently at ease with myself. My kids are good for me, even if the publicans of Dublin disagree.


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