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How Paternity Leave Helps Dads’ Brains Adapt to Parenting

Parenting is not as “instinctual” as previously believed. While decades of research have focused on the maternal brain, revealing fascinating changes that train the brain for the demands of keeping a small human alive, new research on the paternal brain shows similar changes. And these changes happen even though fathers do not have the physical experiences of pregnancy, birth, and the related hormone shifts. In other words, paternity leave = a free brain-training program for dads. According to the authors, a short-term time investment in spending engaged time with their new baby has the potential to pay a lifelong dividend in dad instincts. If we want to see greater gender equality, we need to not just focus on women’s participation in the professional world — we need to encourage more men to participate in the caregiving world.

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