Humans are special in that we will consciously adjust our behavioral patterns. We are, after all, “homo sapiens” or “rational man.” Human behavioral patterns in raising children, for instance, seem to be changing.
Traditionally, while child-rearing—instruction and training—was the responsibility of both parents, mothers were responsible for the care of the children, and fathers shouldered the responsibility of providing for the children. Today, these dual responsibilities are generally shared. Women hold down full-time jobs, and men burp babies.
Other species of animals demonstrate both the traditional and the changing roles of humans in the upbringing of their children, but adherence to these roles is not open for discussion. Mother bears, for instance, won’t say, “Honey, take the baby for a minute while I dig up some grub worms for supper.” While she’s out turning over logs in search of something good to eat, Daddy is snacking on baby.
In the first few hours after a female beaver gives birth, Daddy stays close to help her with the babies, and when the children are old enough, their daddy teaches them how to build dams for their own families.
Titi and owl monkey fathers carry their children 90% of the time, but a siamang monkey will only offer to help when the children reach their “terrible twos. “ “Here, Honey, I’ll take him for a while.”
Though dolphins are notoriously promiscuous, they do love their babies and help Mama take care of and protect them.
Wolf fathers may be the best fathers of all, and the closest in behavior to human fathers. They mate for life, provide for and protect their mates and offspring and actually play with their pups. Like humans, families may stay together for generations so the parents have plenty of relatives to baby sit when Mama and Daddy want to get out and “howl at the moon.”
OBLIGING (OR CONTROLLING?) FATHERS
Darwin’s frog, the male seahorse, and male Emperor penguins carry the eggs for the female. The frogs hold them in their vocal pouch (gives a whole new meaning to “burp the baby”), the seahorses in an abdominal pouch (so it is Daddy who gives birth), and the penguins actually balance the pouch with the egg on the tops of their feet. (Maybe they are not entirely confident of their young wives’ maternal instincts.)
When waterfowl like baby geese walk along in a line between their parents, which parent leads and which follows? Think about it. Females usually give the directions, right? “Honey, let’s go over to the big pond tomorrow.” Males follow along. However, in this case, the male takes up the rear in order to protect his darlings from the dogs and the kids at the pond.
Silverback gorilla fathers will rush between enemies and their families to give their families a chance to escape. That’s probably all that’s necessary. I mean, who’s going to try to get around a Silverback?
Rabbits are stern fathers. If your daddy is a rabbit, better not try to cuddle with him, and when you get old enough, you might want to think about striking out on your own, because Daddy is out to get you. (He’s worried about your intentions toward your sisters.)
Like rabbits, the attitude of male lions toward their cubs can range from indifference to deadly hostility. Mother lions “bring home the bacon,” so the father will babysit the cubs, but Mother might want to get home a little ahead of the point that Daddy loses his patience.
Foals irritate their stallion fathers, too. They can’t be in the same pen with them. Can’t stand all that squealing and frisking about. Makes ‘em crazy.
Domesticated male dogs and cats could care less. All female dogs and cats are unwed mothers.
WAIT ‘TIL YOUR FATHER GETS HOME
As noted above, male bears eat baby bears. A mother bear sees a male, she says to her kids, “Get behind me. And when I tell you to run, do not stand there and argue with me.”
Human fathers are superior to all other species, of course, because they can be helpful, obliging, protective, loving and—well, if your dad is bad-tempered, he’s only human.
Why do we say “only human?” Animals behave as they do because they are biologically programmed to do so. Humans are also biologically inclined, but we love consciously, with our minds and hearts. To be human is to be capable of unqualified love.
Your dad would give his life for you. What will you do for him this Father’s Day?