We often blame "baby fever" on our biological clocks. We're designed to want children, right? After all, if we didn't want them on some internal, subconscious level, how many people would actually PLAN to have no sleep, get puked and pooped on, spend their life fortune on college for a kid? Okay, I'm kidding. There are so many great reasons to have kids, but really, the biological drive for a baby can be strong -- strong enough to even override some real logic.
While normally only contributed to women, a recent study and personal experiences confirm it: Men totally get baby fever.
Researchers decided to look at three possible causes for baby fever:
The sociocultural view: People want to have a baby because they are taught gender roles. Women think they should have children because society says that is what they are supposed to do.
The byproduct view: Humans experience nurturance. When they see a cute baby they want to take care of it, and that makes them want to have a baby of their own. Baby fever is a by-product -- it is nurturance misplaced.
The adaptationist view: Baby fever is an emotional signal -- like a suggestion sent from one part of the mind to the other parts -- that this this could be a good time to have a child.
Obviously, feminists are going GRR at that first one, breastfeeding dolls are often blamed for the second (but bottle-fed babies aren't ... huh?), and the third is the biological clock, like I said. But for men, how much of these are really applicable? Well, it turns out what affected people's want/need to have a baby, regardless of gender, was mostly how their experience had been with kids. People who held sweet, cuddly babies wanted them, people dealing with vomiting and screaming ones didn't, and mixed experiences resulted in mixed feelings about having kids. Really not too surprised there, though I didn't have much experience with babies, period, and never ever wanted them until I was in a relationship with my now-husband, so I'm not sure where that falls.
Overall, though, they were surprised to find that "gender role or misplaced nurturance," the first two categories, while often assumed as having a major impact, were really not. So breastfeeding doll haters, it's okay, pretending to nurse a baby (or bottle-feed one) isn't going to lead to teen sex, for a boy OR girl. They said it was just more fundamental than that.
Funny enough, when asking people to rate desires like being rich, famous, having sex, or having kids, men wanted sex more than they wanted kids, and women wanted kids more than they wanted sex. Who is surprised? Raise of hands? Yeah, didn't think so. Overall, men had a similar baby drive as women, for much of the same reasons, but liked recreational sex more.
Does it surprise you that gender roles, or gender itself, don't have much to do with wanting a baby?
Image via amrufm/Flickr