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How does fatherhood change men? In more ways than you might think.

How does fatherhood change men?
How does fatherhood change men? 02:49

MINNEAPOLIS – This weekend, Americans will celebrate the fathers in their lives. While they've likely had a big influence on their kids, they might not realize their kids influenced them early in life. How does fatherhood change men, and when is it noticeable?

"There's nothing in your life that doesn't get changed when kids come into the picture," said Ben Hoogland, a licensed marriage and family therapist.

It turns out that becoming a parent is, for most of them, a turning point – one that may actually have some biological import.

"Like almost everything, I think there's a nature and a nurture aspect to it," said Hoogland. "Testosterone tends to drop. Their brains tend to change."

Researchers said the drop in testosterone happens right after the baby is born, creating a desire for dads to be more caring for their child and more patient during tough times.

"(I'm) definitely being more patient," one father at Como Zoo told WCCO this week, while another mused, "I didn't really like kids before I had my own."

These changes are often noticed more profoundly by new fathers' partners.

"He softened and had almost like a different perspective on the world because he was seeing it through the eyes of our children," said Karen Harrer. "I feel like he can tolerate things with the children, especially when they were younger that moms can't, like crying."

Several fathers have said that the sound of a baby crying now makes them react differently than before fatherhood. They have an instinct to want to help stop the baby from crying, a habit they picked up when they were young dads.

New fathers will also feel a general sense of responsibility to provide for their family, be it through their career or improving their own health, according to Hoogland.

"Most men don't realize those physical changes or those emotional changes or those hormonal changes. And for men, sometimes that's hard to accept or hard to own, because it's now different than how they've seen themselves," he said.

Some changes from fatherhood have to do with how men were raised. Hoogland said new dads might revert to how they were parented as a child. That could include good or bad parenting styles. Other fathers will be more intentional with how they decide to parent their children.

But, is "dad strength" a real thing?

"If you have to do something for your kids, even if it's harder than normal, you do it," one father told WCCO, recalling how he's picked up his two sons underneath his arms, a feat that would seem quite difficult given their size.

Hoogland said there's truth to the phenomenon of "dad strength."

"We as men, we as fathers, we as a masculine being, we have just this driven need to do the things, to provide the things, to be that presence of strength that we want to for our kids and for our relationship," he said.

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