Where would you be without your dad? Whether you’re lucky to still have him in a part of your life or your time with your father on earth has come to a close, there’s no doubt your experience of the world would look a lot different without his influence.
How would we know how to tie our shoes properly? Or ride our bikes without training wheels? Who would we yell at to stop telling terrible jokes? Who would we ask to help figure out our taxes for the first time?
The troubling truth is, the role of the father has changed a lot over the last few decades. In the 1960’s it was uncommon to grow up in a single parent household- only 10% of children were only raised by their moms. Today, estimates of up to 40% of kids are being raised primarily by their mothers (1).
Without a father figure, kids are less likely to have financial stability when they grow up, less likely to do well in school, and even have a smaller vocabulary than kids whose dads are around! Not to mention the implications for overall emotional and spiritual health.
Now, we love super moms and the jaw-dropping amount of love and sacrifice they give every day for their families. But today we want to shine a little extra light on dads, too, by exploring just how much of an influence they have on you… through DNA.
6 Traits You Only Inherit From Your Father
(Sorry, dads, a lot of it’s not great!)
1. Genetic Mutations
In a 2015 study in Nature Genetics, scientists realized that the expression of thousands of different genes in mice changed depending on which parent they came from. Approximately 60 % of fathers’ genes were more expressive than mothers’. (2) In other words, technically, yes, you get half of your DNA from each parent, but how that genetic material actually presents itself isn’t split down the middle.
If you inherit a genetic mutation from your father, it’s much more likely to actually manifest than if you inherit it from your mother. This explains many of the other interesting facts in this list.
2. Your Gender
This is one of the more well-known things dads pass down to their kids for anyone who knows anything about genetics. Babies get a combination of chromosomes from both parents, but women only have X chromosomes, and so can only pass on an “X” sex chromosome to their offspring. Men have XY chromosomes, and so can either pass on an “X” chromosome (which paired with the other “X” will make a girl) or pass on a “Y” chromosome (which will make a boy).
This also means that any genes “written” on a Y chromosome can only come from your father. Scientists call these Y-linked genes. (This is the other explanation for the remaining facts!)
3. Your Heart Disease Risk
Unfortunately, not all genetic material is just about determining whether you get your mom’s nose, your dad’s chin, or your grandfather’s famous crazy red hair. Men who carry the haplogroup I Y chromosome are 50% more likely to have heart disease and can pass this on to their sons (not great news). But, since it’s only found on the Y chromosome, dads can’t give the same risk to their daughters.
4. Mental Health
Older men who have schizophrenia or ADHD are more likely to pass this on to their children. Interestingly, this happens to older fathers because of how their DNA changes with age. Since women are born with all of their eggs for their entire lifetime, the DNA they pass on to their kids doesn’t change over time.
5. Crooked Teeth… or Good Dental Health
More bad news, gents. Male genes for dental health are expressed more than the ones from your mom. But this could be a good thing; if your mom had to have braces, but your dad’s teeth are pristine, you’re not as likely to need dental work yourself.
Read More: The Link Between Crooked Teeth and Back Pain
6. Fatherhood Itself
Fortunately, infertility doesn’t necessarily stop people from becoming parents. But fathers who conceive through IVF treatment should know that their own sons are more likely to struggle with infertility themselves, according to a study by the Journal of Human Reproduction.