Nature and Fatherhood

Throughout most of the animal kingdom, fatherhood is nothing more than sperm donation. While there are some species (primarily birds) in which the male contributes to child rearing, it is usually the mother that handles any post-conception duties; of course, in lower animals, even her responsibilities may be minimal.

In most mammals, the father also relinquishes responsibility after fertilization and the practice of monogamy (to the extent that it occurs) is limited to humans. Whether monogamy and long-term family attachments are natural human traits is a subject of debate but few would argue the importance of devoted fathers in modern society. Nevertheless, the rise of fatherhood, while revered and cherished in most human cultures, is superimposed on natural tensions that arise within the family unit. How the father deals with these innate challenges will, in the end, make all the difference.

Today, we honor men who, despite their natural tendencies, have welcomed and fulfilled the responsibilities of fatherhood. Their commitment is vital to the welfare of families and, indeed, to the stability of human civilization.