There’s nothing as exciting as realizing you’re about to become a parent — for a second time. It’s a big adjustment to have more than one child running around, and it can be a big adjustment on your body and brain, too. “While the novelty of a first child is unique at that point in a father’s life, each child is another major event that stimulates its own brain changes while repeating many prior neurological events,” neuroscientist and CEO of BrainHQ Dr. Henry Mahncke explained during an exclusive interview with Health Digest.
Most people would assume they have this whole parenting thing down the second time around. However, that’s certainly not the case when it comes to the effects additional children have on a father’s brain. Just like each child is different, every interaction a father has with his child can be completely different from the firstborn to the youngest.
“In fact, because different kids are different, a father may find his brain unwiring some of the skills and instincts developed for a first child and rewiring new ones appropriate for the next child,” Dr. Mahncke told us. These changes to the body and brain continue even after becoming a grandfather, too.
A father’s brain continues to change even after having grandchildren
The birth of a baby is a big life event, which causes big changes to the brain. “Everyone’s brain is constantly changing based on life experiences,” Dr. Henry Mahncke told Health Digest. “More significant life events tend to correlate to larger brain changes.”
Each child that enters into a father’s life has a much bigger effect on the brain than one might think. But when it comes time for those children to have children of their own, a now-grandfather’s brain is still rewiring itself in order to keep up. “This is especially true in watching and helping your grandchildren as they explore the world for the first time,” Dr. Mahncke said. “You’ve gathered a lifetime of knowledge, and you are continuously analyzing and weighing things in your brain.”
Grandfathers do have something stored in their brains that fathers don’t have: many more years of insight on what it takes to raise a child. “Ultimately, the product of that is supposed to be — and you dream it would be — wisdom,” Dr. Mahncke said.
As CEO of BrainHQ, Dr. Henry Mahncke’s work specializes in developing digital brain exercises that can help improve brain health. For more information on their evidence-based exercises, visit the BrainHQ website.