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Entries in Fathers (15)

Thursday
Aug232012

Why Older Men Are at Greater Risk of Fathering Autistic Kids

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Researchers in Iceland think they've figured out why dads who postpone fatherhood to later in life are more prone to have children with problems like autism and schizophrenia.

The simple answer: older dads transmit genetic mutations to their offspring more so than their younger counterparts due to either environmental factors or cell divisions that go haywire.

Scientists at deCode Genetics Inc. in Reykjavik project that older fathers pass an average of two extra new DNA mutations with each added year of age.

One thing is fairly certain, according to the researchers: moms can't share too much of the blame for illnesses related to mental processes because they transmit about 15 new mutations to a child regardless of how old they are when becoming moms.

On the other hand, a 20-year-old male is responsible for 25 new mutations while a guy twice his age transmits 65.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul192012

Single Men Listening to Biological Clock and Becoming Fathers

ABC News (NEW YORK) -- Growing numbers of men who have never been married -- gay and straight -- are shattering that old stereotype of the befuddled dad struggling with how to care for a baby.

There are now more than one million single fathers raising children in the U.S., according to 2010 figures from the Williams Institute at UCLA.

The 2010 Census found that in 2.2 million households, fathers raised their children without a mother. That's about one household in 45. And the number of single-father households rose 62 percent in 10 years.

"I always wanted kids and I never imagined my life without having a child," said Steven Harris, the father of 5-year-old Ben. "I figured I'd get married, have a family."

Harris, 57, a New York City lawyer, told ABC News he dated in his 30s and 40s and even got engaged at the age of 50. He later called the wedding off and set his sights on becoming a father.

Because surrogacy contracts were not legal in New York, he went to California, where he used a donor egg from an anonymous woman and hired another woman from Sioux Falls, S.D., to be the surrogate.

He said he met her and her husband twice in California and that he was present for her 10-week sonogram and the 20-week sonogram. The entire process, including forms, lawyers and more, totaled $200,000.

"I got a call at midnight on a Thursday night from the surrogate saying, 'Steve, my water broke. ... You better get out here.' And I jumped on a plane and I was there at noon the next day when he was born, and I took him home on a Sunday," Harris said.

He said there was nothing "not fun" about raising a child. Harris said even changing diapers was fun. And those 3 a.m. feedings? "You know what?" he told ABC News. "It wasn't that bad."

"It's fantastic," Harris said of being a father. "It's enriched my life so much."

Brian Tessier, 46, of Boston, adopted two boys through foster care after researching surrogacy and overseas adoption. He said he heard his "biological clock" ticking after ending a 10-year relationship.

"[I] decided at that point to look inside myself and see what I wanted to do and really what it came down to is that I really wanted to be a dad," he told ABC News. "I think a lot of men do hear that biological clock. ... I just don't think we talk about it as men or admit it."

Tessier started the hotline 411-4-DAD to give adoption and surrogacy advice and information to prospective single fathers. He said the hotline directed men interested in becoming parents to agencies that were welcoming and competent. Tessier said that men he encountered told him some agencies were chilly and questioned their intentions.

"I think that's why a lot of men give up on that dream" of being a father, he said. "They think, 'Oh, I can't,' rather than get the facts -- and that's really what we're trying to do, to make sure that people do have the right information."

Tessier said that the number of callers has tripled since the hotline started.

And when it comes to questions from others -- and even Ben -- about the whereabouts of the mother, Harris in New York says he answers honestly.

"He's been asking for a long time and I started telling him the truth from the beginning," Harris said. "I tell him there are all kinds of families. ... We're a family with you and me with one dad. And for now, that's enough. ... I'd like certain things to be different in my life but they're not. You know, we're very autonomous -- me and Ben -- and I don't feel like there's anything missing in my life."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jun182012

Is Dad the New Mom? The Rise of Stay-At-Home Fathers

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- While Erica Howard-Potter manages her job as a high-powered tax attorney, her husband Jake Howard-Potter manages the house, the chores and the couple's very active 2-year-old daughter, Skylar.

Jake, who is a sculptor by trade, is the epitome of the so-called "trophy dad." The 37-year-old stays at home and stays fit, completing triathlons one day and expertly negotiating naptime and tea parties the next. And he is not alone.

"I had a dad say to me 'that skirt is really cute' and I thought who would have imagined that two dads would be sitting at swim class saying that a skirt is cute," he said.

According to the most recent Census, the number of stay-at-home fathers in the United States has tripled in the past 10 years up to 154,000. Yet, these at-home dads are still the exception to the traditional household and many treading in unchartered parenting waters.

Every day, Jake picks out Skylar's outfits, fixes her hair, takes her to and from activities and changes her diapers. While he tells everyone he is very proud to be a stay-at-home dad, Jake said people will give him mixed reactions, some of which seem dismissive.

"I think it's often perceived as something that people do without having a choice about it," he said. "This is something I was really excited to do."

As Jake plays with their daughter, Erica spends her day knee-deep in tax documents. This working mother said she doesn't feel resentment towards her husband, but jealousy.

"Definitely I am jealous when he calls and says 'oh she did x, y, and z' and I'm so happy that at least one of us gets to see it," she said.

According to a recent Pew study, women now place a higher importance on having a successful, high-paying career than men do. While some men might feel emasculated by not making an income, Erica said Jake's lack of employment was never an issue for them.

"He was way too supportive of me going through law," she said. "After all of that support I feel like it's our law degree, that it belongs to him as much as it belongs to me. He earned it as much as I did. He does the most important job, so I would never dangle a dollar over his head."

But it's a choice that not many families choose to make and the vast majority of at-home parents are still mothers.

Many at-home dads across the country have turned to the Internet for guidance and support from each other, and now there is a growing online community. Some at-home dads set up get-togethers.

"They talk about sports and politics, but if you go in there right now they will be talking about diaper changes, sleeping challenges, so we're really talking about a lot of the stuff that moms are talking about," said Matt Schneider of "NYC Dads Group."

While all the dads Nightline spoke to stayed home by choice, they all admit they made less money than their wives when they were working before they made the decision to take care of the kids full-time. Bryan Grossbauer was a teacher and his wife was a lawyer, making more money than he did, so he decided to become a stay-at-home dad.

"Welcome to 2012," he said. "It's just as crazy as a female saying I could never go into the workforce I am just going to stay home."

But stay-at-home dads still face some traditional stereotypes, even from family members. Greg Jobson Larkin spent 12 years serving in the Navy and now stays at home with four kids, while his wife works as the CEO of a big corporation.

"My in-laws think I'm a bum and I'm fine because I worked, already had a career," he said. "And I say, 'I am working. If it were reversed, would you say your daughter is a bum?' I'm a great father. Try to respect that."

Jake Howard-Potter said he feels "lucky" and "privileged" to be able to make their home situation work, and his wife seemed to agree.

"I am grateful that he is willing to do it," Erica said. "What it provides to our daughter is so invaluable and so I feel really grateful to him for it."

"I don't view any of this as a challenge, it's an opportunity," Jake said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun152012

Persistence Is Learned from Fathers, Says Study

Ron Nickel/Design Pics/Valueline/Thinkstock(PROVO, Utah) -- Are you tenacious on the job front?  Tireless on the playing field?  Do you keep chipping away at a pursuit you believe in, even when everyone else seems to say "no"?

You may have your dear old dad to thank for that eternal persistence.

A new study published in the Journal of Early Adolescence found that dads are in a unique position to instill persistence and hope in their children, particularly in the pre-teen and teen years.

Researchers from Brigham Young University analyzed 325 families over a four-year period, when fathers responded to questionnaires regarding their parenting style, and children ages 11 to 14 responded to questions about school performance and attaining goals.  Fathers who practiced authoritative parenting, defined as providing feelings of love, granting autonomy and emphasizing accountability to a child, were more likely to have kids who developed the art of persistence, which led to better outcomes in school and lower instances of misbehavior.

Dads who ruled with an iron fist and an authoritarian style (harsher and more punishment-based parenting) had less persistent children.

"Fathers have a direct impact on how children perceive persistence and hope, and how they implement that into their lives," said Randall Day, professor in the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University and co-author of the study.  "It's important to say that moms can do this, too, but it turns out that when fathers use authoritative parenting, they have an impact on how their adolescents perceive themselves and how persistent they are in their lives."

Day calls these types of dads "heart beat fathers" because of their consistent presence in the ordinary day-to-day interactions with their kids.

Researchers said the study joins a growing body of research that suggests fathers are uniquely important to children's self-regulation and self-esteem.  While that is not to say mothers do not instill these values, men and fathers may take on this role more often because of societal acceptance and expectations.

"Our study suggests fathers who are most effective are those who listen to their children, have a close relationship, set appropriate rules, but also grant appropriate freedoms," said Laura Padilla-Walker, co-author of the study and associate professor in the School of Family Life at BYU.

"Persistence is an important character trait to teach to our children and is meaningfully related to teen outcomes over time," Padilla-Walker continued.  "We focus so often on things like genetic intelligence that I think it's refreshing to be reminded that good old-fashioned 'sticking with it' is really important, too."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun082012

Straight, Single Men Turn to Surrogacy for Children

Peter Gordon(BOSTON) -- At a lavish baby shower outside of Boston, there was no pregnant mom in sight. The diaper genie and burp cloths were for a 45-year-old middle school principal named Peter Gordon.

Gordon has been dating and searching for Mrs. Right for more than two decades, but hasn't found a wife. Yet, he badly wanted to start a family.

"I'm still hopeful," he said. "Some people are lucky in love. I haven't found luck yet. It's not for lack of trying."

Steven Harris, a 57-year-old lawyer from New York, found himself in the same predicament. He knew he wanted kids but didn't have someone to have them with and said he felt a "profound sadness" about 15 years ago.

"I really felt like I really was missing something," he said.

So Gordon and Harris, both heterosexual bachelors, made the decision to become dads on their own through surrogacy, using their sperm and a donor egg.

Gordon said he tried adoption before surrogacy but kept getting turned away.

"I called five different agencies and every one of them told me that either I would not be considered or that I would be at the bottom of the list because I was a single father," he said.

Harris said he too was rejected from adoption agencies.

"Who is going to give their kid to a 50-year-old bachelor living in SoHo, you know? I wouldn't," he said.

So both Gordon and Harris turned to surrogacy.

"I didn't want to wake up in five years when I'm over 50 and say, 'if you'd just kind of done this earlier, you might have been able to use the energy and be able to kind of give the time that you can give,'" Harris said.

Stephanie Scott, the executive director of Simple Surrogacy in Dallas, helped set up the arrangement between Gordon and 24-year-old Sara Eaton, the surrogate Gordon ended up choosing. Scott said more and more of her clients are single, heterosexual men.

But when Harris decided to go the surrogacy route, his mother was appalled.

"She said, 'Stevie, this is the worst thing that's ever happened to me," Harris said.

That is, until he introduced her to baby Ben, who was born with the help of in-vitro fertilization and another surrogate. Today, Ben is a 5-year-old spitfire and Harris is a busy dad.

"I get him ready for school, I take him to school, then I go to work and the babysitter picks him up at three, and I come home at six and she leaves, so it's really all me," he said.

Making a family this way is not cheap, especially for Gordon, who discovered he was having twins. Like most men in his situation, he was responsible for Eaton's medical bills.

"I'm looking at probably close to $85,000-$90,000," he said. "I'm 100 percent sure that I'm going to be able to make it work."

Both single dads acknowledge that their kids will have questions about their family situation one day. Harris said Ben has already started to ask him if he has a mother.

"I say 'there are all kinds of families. There are families with two daddies and two mommies and a daddy and a mommy and we're a kind of family with one daddy,' and that's fine for him now," he said.

Both Gordon and Harris said they still have high hopes of one day finding a spouse.

"Dating is a snap," Harris said. "Ben is a chick magnet."

"Definitely want a wife," Gordon said. "I definitely want that family, and a child on each arm, and walking to the park and a stroller with her and, I mean, who wouldn't? I just think for me that would be ideal."

But the wife will have to wait. Gordon's twins, Olivia and Noah, were born six months ago and this single dad could not have been happier.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Mar062012

Postpartum Blues Made Me Violent, Says Broadway Producer

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock (file photo)(NEW YORK) -- Eric Nederlander, a Broadway producer with a history of disputes with the women in his life, claims that postpartum depression caused him to act violently against his wife.

Lindsey Kupferman, his second wife, got a restraining order against him for violent behavior in 2008, and he claims in divorce papers obtained by The New York Post that he suffered from the baby blues after the birth of their daughter Mira.

Nederlander, 46, allegedly threatened to "smash" Kupferman's face when she was nursing their 1-month-old daughter and tore apart baby announcements after raging over credit card bills, the newspaper reports.

Later, he explained his actions in an e-mail to Kupferman, saying "male post-partum depression is probably something I'm going through," according to the documents obtained by the Post.

Male postpartum depression is "absolutely a legitimate condition -- there is no doubt about that," said psychologist Will Courtenay of Oakland, Calif., who is known as "The Men's Doc."

But, he warned, it is no excuse for violence -- in fact, he said, men already prone to outbursts are at greater risk for postpartum depression.

The blues can come out in irritability and anger, as well as physical aggression and lack of impulse control, according to Courtenay.

"A lot of men don't act on it, but have fears of hurting their babies or partners," he said.  "Some men do act on those feelings."

Kupferman, who is a psychologist, filed for divorce at the end of 2007, according to her lawyer at the time, Robert G. Smith.

Smith told ABC News that he was "unauthorized" to speak about the case, but confirmed that Nederlander had been accused of domestic violence and the divorce is still pending.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov072011

Depression in Dads Linked to Emotional, Behavioral Problems in Kids

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Depression is known to run in families, but most of the research has focused on the influence of moms.  Now, a study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics suggests children of depressed dads are more likely to have emotional or behavioral problems, such as feeling sad or acting out.

The study, based on a survey of nearly 22,000 children aged 5 to 17 and their parents, found that 11 percent of children whose fathers had symptoms of depression had emotional or behavioral problems, compared with only 6 percent of children whose parents had no depressive symptoms.

"What's even more remarkable than the results is the fact that this had never been looked at before," said study author Dr. Michael Weitzman, professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at NYU Langone Medical Center.  "I think fathers are underrecognized in terms of the impact they have in families and in children's lives.  It behooves us to try and devise clinical services that would identify fathers that are depressed and figure out ways to link them to services."

The rate of emotional or behavioral problems rose to 19 percent in children who had a mother with depressive symptoms, and 25 percent for children of two depressed parents.

While depression is known to have strong genetic roots, it is also thought to change how parents interact with their kids.

"The same things that make parents excited about their kids when they feel good can exacerbate their depression when they're unhappy," said Weitzman.  "One can only postulate that treating the parents could have a positive effect on their children."

Alan Kazdin, professor of psychology and director of Yale's Parenting Center and Child Conduct Clinic, said the study affirms the role of both parents in children's well-being.

"This may be the first study in fathers, but it fits in with a lot of other studies," he said.  "It's nice to see we're getting away from just bashing moms."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep272011

Study: Fathers' Hearts Healthier Than Those of Childless Men

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(PALO ALTO, Calif.) -- Men who have children may be at an advantage over their childless counterparts when it comes to heart health, according to a new study.

After examining married men over a 10-year period, researchers at Stanford University found that those who didn't become fathers were 17 percent more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than guys who had kids.

All the men in the study were over 50, healthy and had no overt problems that might have interfered with reproduction.

Dr. Michael Eisenberg says the findings point to infertility as the possible reason for this phenomenon since low testosterone levels are linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

Still, Eisenberg isn't about to entirely dismiss the cause-and-effect possibility that having children might improve heart health.  He speculates that after becoming a father, men might decide to take better care of themselves.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep062011

Sperm Donor ‘Super Dads’: The Risks of One Donor 'Fathering' Dozens

Robert Houser/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A woman who conceives a child through a sperm donor has to make her peace with a number of unknowns -- what the donor looks like, what personality quirks he might have or whether big noses run in his family.  But one thing she probably didn’t bargain for was the possibility that her child could have more than 100 half-siblings out there, likely living in the same state, or even in the same city or neighborhood.

This was the outcome for Cynthia Dailey, who, through a little online research and networking, learned that her son had 149 half-siblings, all fathered by the same donor.  Her story, reported by The New York Times this week, highlights a long-held concern among sperm bank critics: Shouldn’t we limit the number of offspring a single donor can sire?

As it stands now, there are no rules in place to monitor or limit how many times a single donor’s sperm can be sold -- a situation that has allowed some sperm banks to oversell their donors, producing clans of more than 100 half-siblings.

ABC News covered this phenomenon last August, when we spoke to Chase Kimball, a sperm donor who, like the one Dailey used, likely fathered “hundreds of children” in the 1970s and 1980s.

It got the point where the clinic told him, “You’ve got too many kids locally, and we can only use your sperm if someone orders it from out of state.”

Having this many offspring is certainly not what Kimball and other sperm donors bargained for, and critics of sperm banks worry that allowing a single donor to father so many children will have negative ramifications for these children.

Because most sperm donations are doled out to women living in the same general area, some critics argue that unintentional incest could occur.

Even more threatening may be what these “superdads” do to the gene pool, say some critics.  Sperm donors are tested for inherited diseases to varying degrees -- what they’re tested for differs from state to state -- but donors may still be passing along genetic abnormalities and diseases.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun172011

Roughhousing with Dad Crucial for Development, Say Researchers

Jack Hollingsworth/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Dads roughhousing with their young children is crucially important in the early development of kids, according to a study by Australian researchers. Sunday is Father's Day and as the annual tribute to dads approaches, experts say the gift that keeps on giving -- for years to come -- is for kids to play a little rough with their fathers.

"We know quite a lot about how important fathers are in general for a child's development. Over the last decade, for example, that it's mainly mother that interacts with children and that's how they develop, and that's the important bit, that's changed. We know fathers are important," Richard Fletcher, the leader of the Fathers and Families Research Program at the University of Newcastle in Australia, told ABC News.

"Father's Day reminds us parents that we have no more solemn obligation than to care for our children," President Barack Obama said Wednesday in calling for fathers to be more involved with their children. "But far too many young people in America grow up without their dads, and our families and communities are challenged as a result."

The percentage of fathers who live with their children has doubled in the past 50 years, and dads tend to spend more than twice the amount of time with their children than they did in the 1960's, according to a study released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center.

Australian researchers watched film of 30 dads while they roughhoused with their children, usually through a game where the child would try to remove a sock from their father's foot, to see what effect it might have on children.

"Rough and tumble play between fathers and their young children is part of their development, shaping their children's brain so that their children develop the ability to manage emotions and thinking and physical action altogether," said Fletcher. "This is a key developmental stage for children in that preschool area between the ages of about two and a half and five. That's when children learn to put all those things together."

Although boys were more likely to encourage the start of roughhousing with their dads, researchers did not see a significant difference between boys and girls once the play started. But for the kids, it's not just play.

"When you look at fathers and their young children playing, you can see that for the child, it's not just a game. They obviously enjoy it and they're giggling, we know that's true, but when you watch the video, you can see that child is concentrating really hard…I think the excitement is related to the achievement that's involved," Fletcher told ABC News. "It's not about a spoiled child not wanting to lose, I think that child is really striving for the achievement of succeeding."

The researchers believe that the most important aspect of this play is that it gives children a sense of achievement when they 'defeat' a more powerful adult, building their self-confidence and concentration. However, fathers who resist their children, can also teach them the life lesson that, in life, you don't always win.

These kinds of lessons can be crucial in child developmental stages as they begin to build their outlook on the world. "We think it has implications for children's resilience. So, if parents want their children to grow up and not get into drugs and not get into trouble, if they want them to do well academically, than this is probably a good thing to do," said Fletcher. "We did find a correlation so that the dad's whose play was much better coordinated according to our measures, those children had less problems."

Fletcher admits that more research needs to be done, but he is hopeful that his team will eventually be able to help fathers know how to best interact with their child in their formative periods to ensure them a successful future. "It's a new area, but we're excited about the possibilities," said Fletcher.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio