With Father’s Day on Sunday, sentiments of many turn toward their fathers. As fathers ourselves, where will we be on the occasion? Kermyt will be flying back from a conference out-of-state, hoping to catch his kids before they fall asleep. Peter, out of the country, hopes to connect with his kids via Skype. How did work throw off this year’s Father’s Day for the two of us?
This question opens a larger discussion of men’s work and family relationships. How do men juggle these potentially competing agendas? Can fathers have all they desire—a combination of social status and resources obtained through their work, meaningful relationships with other men, and sufficient involvement in day-to-day family routines? For some deeper evolutionary reflections on these issues, forget Kermyt and me, and consider two of our evolutionary heroes: Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace.
In his early 20s, Darwin undertook a five year voyage on the HMS Beagle, travels that would subsequently help lay the groundwork (e.g., career prospects) for a family. Beginning in his 20s, Wallace would spend about four years in Brazil, and another eight in southeast Asia. Eventually, he too would find a path to family life, but not until age 44, and after having one marriage proposal declined (“The blow was severe, and I have never in my life experienced such intensely painful emotion").