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The Y Factor Mystery Revealed

July 6, 2011

The Y Factor Mystery  Revealed –Phillip White

Men and women are different, and that variance is contained in one little Y chromosome.  The studies that have been done show that men and women are pretty much the same until the chromosome starts making changes to the developing fetus.  Of course, a trigger is the hormone testosterone which washes over the male brain and takes that perfectly normal girl into a boy child, foreign and wild.  Regardless women need to learn to love these crazy and wild boys; and those men need to learn to cherish their partners despite this major disparity.

Many people over the years have tried to connect behavior modification and socialization philosophies with the differences, but Mother Nature isn’t tricked by these resemblances of wisdom.  No, men and women are distinctly different, and the Lord said ”it is good.”

Now I’ve been studying childbirth and fatherhood for some time, and have even mentioned briefly in other blog pieces and in my book, that one of the distinctions between men and women is the instinct that men have in being protectors, while women are chemically designed to nurture.

Of chief concern to me is that father’s needs are respected and understood, and many studies have shown that how men are addressed in antenatal childbirth and parenthood classes has not meet their needs.

A conflict immediately begins in a man when he attends classes with his wife or partner.  His desire is to protect his beginning family, so he is wary and rightly so from sharing any comments, questions or concerns which he find may upset his mate.

In the article, In supporting fathers in the transition to parenthood, the authors write as follows:

It is widely recognized that much is changed in terms of father’s involvement in parenting.  Most fathers today participate in antenatal preparation classes; most would assist in early infant care.  Despite this level of involvement, fathers are often reported to be guarded about outward expressions of emotion or outward discussion of feelings about the life changing event of becoming a father. (Halle et al)

That is counter to a father’s primary mission as chief support for the mission of childbirth.  But buried underneath this very rational idea is the Achilles’ heel of every living man, and must be something conjured up from the primordial subconscious of man.   This is what I call the Y factor.

I found this Y factor’s presence  lurking within an article titled “All-Male Discussion Forums for Expectant Fathers: Evaluation of a Model” written by Mark Friedewald, Richard Fletcher, and Hedy Fairbairn, published with Lamaze International in 2005.  This article explained how childbirth education programs needed to meet the needs of men preparing for fatherhood, but that the vast majority of men did not feel prepared for the  “lifestyle and relationship changes after the birth.”  The article went on to say:

Because fathers comprise an essential support for mothers and infants, determining and meeting the needs of fathers should be a consideration of educators concerned with promoting effective provisions for mothers.

And

That a cultural double bind is in effect where men are told that father’s presence is requested at the childbirth classes, but their feelings are not (Friedewald, Fletcher, & Fairbairn, 2005).

This dilemma can be overcome by understanding the Y factor, which is that hardwired switch inside the heads of men.

So by now you probably are wanting to understand this mystery, and rightly so.  The Y factor is the key to how men feel loved.  Men are designed to protect this emotional soft spot, as if it were some missing clink of armor over their heart.  This is why when men say they don’t feel they can share in front of their partners; it is a serious bit of business to them.  You see it has to do with one word: respect.  R. E. S. P. E. C. T. (sing it girls)

The way to a man’s heart is respect, and men have to safe enough emotionally to be able to share their vulnerability emotionally in a safe environment.  Men just can’t open up when they suspect it will diminish the amount of respect they receive from someone, especially their lover.   Yet since men are not going to express their needs and feelings when accompanying their wives or partners, they miss out of support and skills which prepare them for fatherhood.  Women often refer to this respect factor by mocking men as saying they have inflated egos.

However, these new male-based classes have shown that when the y factor is put into the equation that men respond – they are responding to the respect they feel, not the information.  The Male antenatal specific groups tried in New South Wales exemplifies  how “male-specific sessions are successful because men are able to work by themselves on topics relevant to them.  This format offers a chance for men to support each other and discuss themes of mutual interest.“ (Friedewald, Fletcher, & Fairbairn, 2005)

Eliminating men’s fear of disrespect allows them to be vulnerable.  In childbirth classes men are afraid of several things.  First what their partner will think or feel.  What the other men’s partners will think.  They also do not want to appear to be dotes in front of the facilitator and the other men.  But, this study’s groups were male run with an interactive format which allowed the men to ask questions, raise concerns, share experiences and anecdotes relevant to the conversation, and were not modeled after most childbirth classes that are lecture oriented and centered on a woman’s perspective (Friedewald, Fletcher, & Fairbairn, 2005).  The men said the facilitators were just blokes like themselves which made them feel safe and at ease.

As long as men’s sensitivities and needs are overlooked, childbirth education classes will continue to fail to meet the needs of Dads.  Dads have just as much to contribute to the emotional and physical development of children.  If  Y factor must be understood, then the educators will want to provide a male-focused class that respects men and honors their triumph into fatherhood.

Works Cited

Friedewald, M., Fletcher, R., & Fairbairn, H. (2005). All-Male Discussion Forums for Exectant Fathers: Evaluation of a Model. Journal of Perinatal Education , 14(2), 8-18.

Halle, C., Dowd, T., Fowler, C., Rissel, K., Hennessy, K., MacNevin, R., et al. (2008, Dec.). Supporting fathers in the transition to parenthood. Contemporary nurse : a journal for the Australian nursing profession , 57-70.

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