Fatherhood. Even now a thousand thoughts may be running through your mind on what this word personally means to you. For some it can be positive, for others, not so much. It's no wonder how our various experiences may colour our views and biases. But surprisingly, as varied and multitudinous as our ideas are on what it means to be a father, some popular beliefs persevere to this day. Some of these 'myths' are innocent superstitions, but others can be harmful misconceptions. Misconceptions primarily perpetuated by mass media. Here are some popular myths about fatherhood that needs to be debunked. Fathers Are Not Important While not discounting all the happy, healthy children who grew up with single mums, there are just some things that father's do that simply cannot be easily replaced. Research has proven that babies did not fare well if their fathers aren't present throughout the mother's pregnancy. These babies had high mortality rates, were premature, or had low birth weights. Compared to babies whose fathers were around during the entire gestation period. Children who grew up with positive father figures also tend to have higher IQs, do better in school and are less likely to have trouble with authority and the law. They are also much less likely to suffer from depression and other psychological disorders. But that's not all. It is also found that fathers contribute more to language development in children than mothers do. This is because dads tend to use more words when speaking with their kids, allowing for better vocabulary acquisition. Fatherhood Has No Expiry Date This is of course only referring to fathers who wish to become biological parents. Adoptive dads can absolutely become fathers at any age as long as they are of legal age to adopt. But if you're a man who's thinking of reproducing naturally (or artificially) a bit later in life, like in your forties or fifties, it's time to maybe rethink that decision. Contrary to popular belief, men do have biological clocks, just like women. Except it moves much, much slower\u2014almost at a snail's pace. To the point where many people may not notice it. That's why we still occasionally see 70-year-old men in the news suddenly having a surprise baby with their new, younger wives. While male fertility does indeed have a longer shelf life than female fertility, it still does run out. Once a man reaches his late thirties, his testosterone dips and his sperm count decreases. This also increases the likelihood of erectile dysfunction and other fertility issues that make having kids exceptionally difficult. Fathers are Stricter While men are often expected to be the authority figure in the house, occasionally dolling out punishments. However, most fathers are not at all like this. In fact you'll find a majority of parents hate disciplining their kids even if its for their own good. When it comes to societal expectations, we always expect the dad to be the family's 'law enforcement' because men are traditionally perceived as the more assertive and authoritative sex. But in some households, it may be the mum who is the disciplinarian, while the dad has the honour of being the 'fun parent'. Some couples may also play the 'good cop, bad cop' role and even take turns correcting bad behaviour. There may also be households that take an overall laidback approach, not choosing to be strict to their children at all. Being strict has its place, but to put it all on the father's shoulders can often damage the relationship. After all, you don't want your kids to grow up being afraid of their dad. Fatherhood Does Not Change a Man Society has led many to believe in the myth of the aloof father figure who is unphased with his new status as a parent. As in, being a father does not at all affect a man's mental (and physical) state. Now, while it may not nearly be to the same extent as what women go through when pregnant, men have also been found to experience\u00a0hormonal changes when they become fathers. Research has found that expectant dads experience lower testosterone levels and become less aggressive. Much like other warm-blooded mammals, human men transition from the competitive mate-seeking phase of their lives to a softer, gentler nurturing state when they have a baby or are near one, even if it's not theirs. We frequently hear about the 'Mama Bear' trope and how mothers become fiercely overprotective of their young after they give birth. But we often may not realise how fathers can be just as territorial when it comes to their children. If you ask any dad about what they think of their teenage daughters having boyfriends, you'll find most of them are almost ferociously averse to the idea. Being a Father is Easier The world has made it very difficult to be a woman. We live in a very sexist, masculine society where the glass ceiling is ignored but always present. But surprisingly, this doesn't make it easier for men. Or more specifically, men who are fathers. By now we are all probably already familiar with the 'motherhood penalty'\u2014how women tend to have lower wages and fewer career opportunities because they are mothers. Or worse, because of their potential in becoming mothers. But did you also know there is also a fatherhood penalty? Many men have now reported experiencing pay cuts, and are regularly passed off for promotions. This is especially true if they request for better work-life balance in order to spend more time with their families. Even in organisations with flexible working hours and family-friendly policies, many fathers are reluctant to invoke such rights due to societal expectations. Men are often expected to be the breadwinners even though many are more than willing to be homemakers. Such is the consequences we pay for participating in, and being the unwilling cogs of the capitalistic machine. Let Us Debunk These Fatherhood Myths Myths are part of our culture, but they are often unfair representations of very complex and nuanced situations. Like fatherhood, for example. There are many kinds of fathers, just as there many kinds of mothers. Not every dad has the same parenting style, or experience the same things that other dads experience. However, some of the systemic and societal problems associated with fatherhood, and how we treat fathers in general are very real issues that need addressing. And the number one thing that we can do to end systemic injustices is to dismantle the misconceptions that perpetuate them. Like fathers being uncaring, or 'having it all', or not at all concerned with caregiving. Being a good dad is tough, so let's give them a break by leaving all these myths in the past where they belong. So we can ensure a brighter, better future for all dads everywhere. Mummies, don't miss out on your chance to get limited Motherhood.com.my vouchers today by casting your Motherhood Choice Awards 2022 votes here! For more insightful stories and fun recipes, stay tuned to Motherhood Story!