Thursday, October 20, 2011

Older Parenting: A Modern Day Fountain of Youth

I found this article on the internet.  Yes, I Google'd "older parenting" and this came up.  While we are not fathering in our 50s, I have moments of wondering how this experience of raising a child later in life is going to effect me, my relationship and my life.  I ask many parents how old they were when they had their first and last child.  Don't get me wrong, I am not having second thoughts AT ALL.  But this was a great read and very refreshing -- had to steal it as one of my posts.  

If you want to see the online article click here.

Older Parenting: A Modern Day Fountain of Youth
Fathering in Your 50s: Is There a Difference?
My first psychology professor was Dr. Dick Bruce. He told a marvelous story about his family during Psych 100: When home for the holidays, one of his siblings complained that earning a Ph.D. seemed an impossible goal. The degree would take so long. Dr. Bruce's reply was "In 4 years you'll be the same age whether you go to school or not."

Fathering in your 50s is much like Dr. Bruce's thinking. If being older is the only reason we decide against having children, then we have allowed ourselves to be enslaved to age. Certainly anyone should consider factors like health, energy levels, or financial capacity when making the choice to have children. We can decide to have, or not to have, children in our 40s or 50s, but we will end up the same age, in 18 years, either way. When we magnify the negative meaning of age, we don't balance the benefits of having children at an older age. Once we place age into its proper perspective, we can see that there are many reasons to become an "older" father.

Staying Young
Fathers, like everyone, create beliefs about the meaning of age. How we define age then affects other parts of our lives: athletics, diet, vacationing.  My young children demand that I stay young. They want to play on the floor, run in the back yard, eat ice cream, and go on family vacations. I find that having young children keeps my perspective young, and my daily life more energetic. I have a youthful perspective, and my life shows it.

Feeling Connected
As we grow older, experiences can reduce our feelings of attachment. Deaths, and other losses, push older men away from the vulnerability of deep connection. But, children express their love and affection so freely, so that avoiding a bond with them is impossible. I am not closed-off in other relationships, because my children keep me open to connection every day.

Enjoying Life
The older we get, the more life feels like a grind. We ask ourselves, "Is there anything thing new or exciting in the world?"  Young children feel joy and are excited about just-about everything. They see fun in the mundane as boxes become forts. If we let them, they will take us along for the "joy" ride. Fathering in my 50s gave me back life's fun. My children make well-worn activities feel exhilarating again.

Learning Fearlessly             
All adults know the pain of embarrassing themselves while trying to learn something, but not doing so well. When men hit middle age, we discover how our bodies and minds have begun to falter (even when we try something well known). But, children approach learning new things (sports, reading, games, etc.) without fear. For example, my son is learning to read-and mastering a new word puts joy on his face, with no signs of worry. My son and daughter show me daily that I have nothing to fear if I try something new. I took up golf, as a serious pastime, last year.  And, I have fun learning to play. I thank my children for the courage to learn the game..... to enjoy the pars and the double-bogies.

A Final Word from an Older Dad
Yes, there are plenty of reasons to become a father in your 40s or 50s: Youthfulness, Connection, Joy, and Fearlessness are but a few. Parenting has challenges in your 50s, just like it would at any age.  But older parenting can reset the aging clock. You live a younger life, and your children benefit from your years of wisdom. Older fathering might not be a fountain of youth, but it will add years of happiness to your life.


  1. How funny. My dad said the same thing when I told him at 28 that I'd be 30 by the time I got out of law school: "You'll be 30 anyway." I've thought about that conversation as I've grappled with my advanced years and the decision to procreate. But then, my dad was just a little younger than I am when he had me.

  2. I totally agree! We are a hair younger but feel the same sentiment. Honestly, it feels like we are MUCH MORE prepared to be a parent now than we would have been 10 or 15 years ago. PLUS, we aren't missing going out on the town too much now...we have already lived a fairly rich life of experiences, travel, events, & parties. It turns out, life experiences enhances the parenting context! Plus, we are financially more prepared now than we would have been in our 20s.
    Parents of a certain age are like a fine wine....

  3. Thanks for the article. I was 31 when John was born. Fred was 36. Or was it 32 and 37. My math is horrible. Anyway, Fred said no more babies after he was 40. Our youngest two were born when Fred was 41. They came to us four years later. We are looking for more children to add to our Family and want older kids. However, we keep saying that if someone were to drop off a baby on our doorstep, we would certainly adopt him. Although that means four or five more years of baby stuff. It's a tough decision. But the years go fast and now I have a baby who goes to Middle School dances. I can't wait to see when your child goes to his first dance.
    Take care.

  4. Oh I love this post! I worry about the age thing too. I am 40 - freaking - 5 next month. I decided when I turned 40 I would go back in age each year, so really I am 35 ... when I think I am 35 I feel okay to have more kids, when I remember I am almost 45, I freak. It's a matter of perception. I would have never been financially nor emotionally ready to parent before 40. Hey, there's always botox : ))

  5. I feel so much better now that I'm in good company with all you other "older" parents or parents-to-be out there. Thanks for weighing in. Oh, and Meg, I turned 40 - freaking - 6 in August!!

  6. The main negative that I've discovered with being an older parent (I was 40 when our two were born) is that my parents are really great-grandparent age to the boys (late 60s, early 70s) and are simply not as capable as helping us out as if we were all 10-20 years younger. To me, we've skipped a generation of support. My parents help out in any way that they can, which is often running tasks for us as keeping up with our guys is hard enough for us - let alone anyone else. This is about the one thing that I didn't come up with while we were trying to get pregnant or stay pregnant, but it's been obvious since the day we arrived home with them.

    A doctor here in Australia made just about the front page of every paper the other week for suggesting that we shouldn't have kids when we're older as we're going to put an unfair burden onto them when they're 20 (or whatever) and we're 60+ with potential medical problems. There was a LOT of responses about how we're better off financially and mentally to wait, but I can see where this doctor is coming from due to my observations above. Food for thought. But with that said, I also agree with this article that kids demand that you stay young - so who are we to not follow their demands?!?!?

  7. I ALWAYS enjoy reading your posts. Oh and by the way, u look too good to be 40 freaking 6...i would never guess it, you are as yound as you feel guys!!

    Enjoy and the real test is when your chasing your bub around :) Which you'll be FINE!! (i cant keep up with our 2 yr old god-son, then i worry).

  8. I never felt like my dad was any kind of a burden to me. He died when I was 36. We all end up taking care of our parents at some point (or we should); sometimes earlier, sometimes later. I am sorry my dad will never meet his grandkids, and that my mom won't likely see them grow up.

  9. Thanks for the perspective, Lisa. I totally see your point about grandparents...but I was the last child of five and my last grandparent passed away when I was 11 (and my parents did alright w/5 and no parental help). And then there's the aging and health question -- which I agree with Jason on. Bill's father had him when he was 47 (which I will be close to when we, fingers crossed, have our little one in May), and Bill never felt he missed out or had to take care of him. The last years of his life we took care of him and he passed away at 84. In fact, it was the experience of taking care of his father (and mother, who passed away a few years later at age 67ish), that brought us and especially me, closer to them. The same went for my mother...when she passed I was 36 and I used to cry myself to sleep as a child thinking about my parents dying one day. I thought I would never be able to help her through the process of dying from pancreatic cancer because I would be a basket case. But it was truly enlightening to do this with my brothers and father. I am a better person today because of that experience. I Googled that Australian doctor article and couldn't find it. I'd love to read it!

    And Mandy, THANKS for the compliment. Trying to hang on to my youth as much as I can, and I think the baby is going to help...I HOPE! :-)

  10. What a refreshing article!. I believe that 40 is the new 30 anyway - we're living longer and acting younger. Enjoy! (I never would have guessed you were forty something)

  11. Thank you for sharing this article. We both have birthday's coming up in November still right side of 45 but over 40!! I believe children keep you young.Don't worry at all just enjoy.

    Avey & Vinay

  12. I LOVE this article.....going to put it on my blog too....hope you don't mind Doug!

  13. JR -- absolutely not. I really identified with it!