Postponing Fatherhood: Why More Men are becoming Dads at an Older Age
"When you're young, you have time and energy; but no money.
When you're an adult, you have energy and money; but no time.
When you're old, you have time and money; but no energy."
Such is life.
According to recent studies, money and time must be a huge motivator for the hundreds of men who are becoming fathers at an older-than-usual age. Research shows that more and more men ages 40-44 are becoming fathers for the first time, or for the first time in years. The increase can be linked to the desire for financial security, the increased life expectancy (now at age 75), births as a result of second marriages and couples marrying later in life.
Saving up for children obviously has its trade-offs. Dads in their 40s are no longer the spry, stay-up-all-night college students or partiers they once were. Joints are creaking; energy is waning, and 'them old bones just ain't what they used to be.' The day-to-day routine switches from leisurely golf and television to play dates and parent-teacher-conferences. With gray hair and tired skin, older dads are often mistaken for their child's grandparent. Daily encounters are increasingly with younger dads who have iPhones, apps and everything high-speed. Every situation seems to exclaim, “You're different; you're old.” But for many older dads, the financial security along with the wisdom they developed over the years has set them up for the ideal parenting experience.
Some of Hollywood's finest have reflected the increase in paternal age in even later years, including Rod Stewart who became a father at 65, Paul McCartney at 60, and Michael Douglas at 65. Although late fatherhood can prove to be both physically and emotionally taxing, it doesn't seem to effect the joy of these older dads.
Generation Y is projected to be the first generation in three decades to not surpass the financial success of their parents.
“I never anticipated starting a family at my age.” Michael Douglas told The Guardian. “I'm genuinely happy to let Catherine work, while I stay at home with the children. I cherish this time."
For Douglas, the wisdom that came from experience has had a positive impact on his parenting skills. Consumed with his career during his first marriage, he claims he made mistakes and was absent for much of his first son Cameron's life, who is now in prison for dealing cocaine and methamphetamine. “Now that my own priorities are entirely different, I'm always encouraging people to wait to have a family – get yourself sorted career-wise first as much as you can.”
This may be easy for someone like Michael Douglas. But for the majority of Americans born after 1980, or Generation Y, waiting to have children until they are more financially secure may not be possible. Generation Y is projected to be the first generation in three decades to not surpass the financial success of their parents.
But along with this, another study done by MetLife shows that Generation Y has displayed a completely different idea of the American Dream. Instead of owning a house on a hill complete with children and a spouse, more Gen. Yers are seeking fulfillment from personal relationships, and their goal is to live comfortably within their chosen lifestyle. For people with this type of outlook, having kids will be more about enjoying them and having the ability to take care of their basic needs rather than establishing their college fund or saving up to remodel the house. Their priorities will most likely lie with their own emotional needs as opposed to physical wants.
Having a child is a great responsibility, and the perfect balance of wisdom, money, energy and time is probably impossible to achieve at any one particular stage of life. Circumstances - and sometimes children - can come when you least expect them, but they can often be the most fulfilling addition to a life no matter how old you are or what troubles come your way.
The 2009 MetLife study of the American Dream