Becoming a Dad Can Help a Guy Give Up His Bad Habits

Can fatherhood help a guy clean up his act?

The short version of this story: Don’t worry, he’ll very likely chill when the baby comes.

The longer version: Researchers and Oregon State University have found that when men become dads– especially those in their late 20s and 30s– there’s a significant decrease in drinking, smoking and committing crimes.

“Controlling for the aging process, fatherhood was an independent factor in predicting decreases in crime, alcohol and tobacco use,” said David Kerr, assistant professor of psychology at Oregon State University and lead author of the study. Whew.

The researchers assessed over 200 at-risk males every year from the age of 12 to 31 and tracked how their use of alcohol, tobacco and marijuana and likelihood to commit a crime changed over time. Previous studies show that marriage can calm a guy down a little but this is the first to show that fatherhood can, too. This study is published in the current issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family.

“It is hopeful that for both older and younger men, tobacco use tended to decrease following the birth of a first child,” Kerr said. “This kind of change could have important health consequences for men and for their families…. This research suggests that fatherhood can be a transformative experience, even for men engaging in high risk behavior. This presents a unique window of opportunity for intervention, because new fathers might be especially willing and ready to hear a more positive message and make behavioral changes.”