It doesn’t matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was.
⁓ Anne Sexton
This Father’s Day, I honor the father figures in my life —
My grandfather, who led by example through being of service to others as
a teacher and whose legacy started me on my fountain pen journey,
My father, who showed me the fallibility of being human and tried all the
And the father of my child, who continues to learn and love as a parent.
I treasure them through the lenses of my own perceptions, grateful for the lessons they have taught and continue to teach me. As a granddaughter, child, and wife, their lives have deeply colored mine. Perhaps, this is what fatherhood ultimately means — being present in the most meaningful, personal sense of the word.
Imperatives of Fatherhood
Nature shapes fathers out of men. Oxytocin and prolactin — the same hormones that rise during pregnancy and lactation — likewise increase in male partners even before the birth of their child. Studies in human biology and psychology further reveal that new fathers holding their baby or expectant ones with a doll swaddled in a blanket that recently held and still smells of a newborn exhibited an increase in cortisol (stress hormone associated with mothering) and a decrease in testosterone levels. The men who experienced the greatest urge to comfort upon hearing a newborn’s cry or seeing one struggling to nurse were those whose levels changed the most.
MRI scans indicate that the area concerned with reward processing lights up in fathers’ brains when they are shown photographs of toddlers. In contrast, non-fathers’ reward processing centers show increased activity when shown sexually stimulating pictures. This difference is linked to the bonding effects of oxytocin and the decrease in testosterone — enabling the adaptation towards paternal nurturing and caregiving rather than conquest. Those with the most significant changes have greater tendencies to soothe, engage with their children, and take more active roles in childcare. This is our evolutionary advantage.
Fathers have to spend time close to their babies to translate these biological effects into lasting behavior. When a father identifies more with his role early on, the more engaged he is as one over time even as the hormonal changes eventually stabilize.
Across several cultures, fathers and paternal figures are considered as the primary providers. And that coexists with their desire to be caregivers. Sociologists find that fathers aspire to fulfill these multiple roles. They feel joy when they mentor their children and pride when they witness their milestones. However, they also feel pain and guilt when they need to go to work or take time for self-care. They likewise yearn to establish a bond similar to that between mother and child. As a consequence, mental health becomes a challenge that can be especially difficult for new fathers — given their workplace responsibilities coupled with the changing dynamics of the relationship with their partners.
Parenthood is a demanding and rewarding vocation, for all genders involved. It is quite admirable then when fathers and father figures persevere to provide for their families and nurture their relationships with their children. At times, they struggle and keep it to themselves.
Father’s Day (and any other day) is a good time to give back the caring they have given us throughout our lives. Let us express our love and gratitude for the paternal people in our lives through the things or experiences they will enjoy — or we can introduce them to new ones.
We at EndlessPens suggest sharing with them what we love the most —
A fountain pen as a Father’s Day present encapsulates both form and function. In our fathers’ hands, they become personal tools for introspection and self-expression, aside from being beautiful and useful writing instruments for the office. Journaling for psychological and physiological well-being has been proven time and again. And it is never too late to start this creative, self-care practice.
Another way to express your love is to pen a letter or make an artful card. Speak from your heart, let your imagination and creativity play together. Fountain pens are one of the most pleasurable instruments to use for writing, sketching, or calligraphy. A handwritten letter or a handmade card is as personal and unique as you can get.
How about a gift card? For fathers who prefer to shop for themselves, a gift card offers them the freedom of choice. It also makes it easier and quicker for you to send a Father’s Day treat.
Aside from being a parent, a father is a person too. Oftentimes, this is overshadowed by the role he plays within the family and society. In his desire to embody this role, he often forgets to take care of himself. He works long hours apart from the people he loves, because he loves them. He becomes stressed, yet struggles to maintain a steadfastness. Sometimes he believes that showing his vulnerability is a weakness that detracts from his being a good father. As children, I believe it is up to us to express that he can be cared for too. He deserves it.
Happy Father’s Day!
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Written by @lekzumali
Check out her musings on Instagram!