Do Older Men Make Better Dads?

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A new parenting trend shows many men are becoming fathers later in life. The trend, parenting considerations, and the studies I shared on the TODAY show.

“My father didn’t tell me how to live;

he lived, and let me watch him do it.” 

Clarence Budington Kelland

I sat down with Matt Lauer on the TODAY show and discussed a fascinating subject: “Do older men make better dads?” (Full disclosure: I readily admit to being a bit biased. I am the product of an incredible dad who waited quite a while to marry–a war entered into the pictured and a delay in the wedding–then voila….I finally arrived).  But there appears to be a a new parenting trend emerging: men are waiting to father later in life. Just a few celebrity examples include: Elton John Paul McCartney, Jack Nicholson, Rod Stewart, David Letterman, Mick Jagger, Clint Eastwood, Larry King, Steve Martin and Donald Trump.

Why the new trend? A number of reasons cited for the increase are due mostly to today’s society such as delaying marriage and child bearing to jumpstart that career and a high divorce rate, And then there’s that factoid that many older men are marrying younger women. (Hmmmm. I’m not going there). The wonders of science and medical advancements have also increased life expectancies. But regardless of cause, it appears many men are simply living longer and are deciding to start families later in life. (There’s also a whole special category called “S.O.D.” which stands for “Start Over Dads” –though I’m sure their first wives might have another name for it–and are starting a second and later family altogether).

Three Fascinating Facts About Older Dads

Perhaps the fascinating part is that research suggests that older dads are actually better at fathering. To be fair, this is such a new phenomenon and all the data isn’t complete, but it’s enough for us to review and believe me, have some very interesting discussions. Here are just three of the most titillating findings about older dads gathered from several studies that I shared on TODAY:

1. Older Dads Are More Involved In Child Rearing

No more absentee dads here. These men are visible and want to be actively involved in raising Junior. And that is always a huge plus to the kiddos. One of the highest correlations of children who do well in life is that they had actively involved fathers in their lives. Kids with involved dads generally have higher self-esteem, more confidence, are more secure, handle stress better, and display more empathy.

2. Older Dads Are More Nurturing

Older dads are often warmer, more generous with affection, and more nurturing to their kids. Some of this may be due to a drop in testosterone levels, but regardless the studies show that these older men are more likely to be mellower, more relaxed, and appear to be much calmer in their parenting.

3. Older Dads Are More Willing To Share Child Responsibility

This one is sure to make mothers cringe (especially their first wives and children), but studies always show that older dads tend to share in more of the daily child rearing tasks than younger fathers. In fact, older dads are three times more likely to be be active care-givers than younger dads.

The Disadvantages of Being an Older Dad

Now there are also disadvantages to fathering at an older age, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t include them. There are milder issues like the embarrassment when you’re introduced as “Grandpa” at those school events or trying to bond with other dads who are 20, 30, (or even 40 years younger).

Scientific evidence also warns of more serious genetic risks to the unborn to later fathering including a rise in birth defects, dwarfism, autism, schizophrenia, pre-term birth and a list of other genetic diseases in their offspring.

Health concerns with advancing age are also a risk. Many men admit that the possibility of dying before their child grows up is their most pressing worry. Interviews with these fathers also point out that though the “mortality issue” weighed heavily on them, their decision to have children was always a conscious, deliberate choice. (Amen on that one).

The researchers concluded the older fathers for the most part are far more reflective about parenting than their younger counterparts. Most of these older dads admitted that during their “first round of fathering,” they were too caught up in their careers and didn’t spend time with their children. Suddenly the kids were grown and they realized that they missed out on the most important role of their lives–”Daddying” and vowed to not make the same mistake again. Here are a few tips I shared with Matt Lauer:

~ Be Sure To Introduce Yourself As “Dad”

Just a firm, confident, “Hi, I’m the father of this great kid,” will do. Better to introduce yourself correctly than have to point out you’re not Grandpa.

~ Don’t Stress The Stuff You Can’t Do

Forget camping out in that pup tent with your child on those scouting overnighters. You’ll hate yourself the next morning. Playing those rough, quick game of hoops on the asphalt won’t do much for your knees either. Don’t stress over what you can no longer do with your child.

~ Focus On Activities You Can Share with Your Child

Attend those musical, ballgames, movies, and dinners with your kids. Find and do the things you will enjoy together.

~ Spend Quality Time Together

Kids really spell love as T.I.M.E. together. Keep doing what you’re already doing with your child. The most effective quality of a good parent is the relationship he has with his child.

Whether you agree that men should father later in life, research shows that these older dads are taking their parenting role very seriously–and loving every minute. For the most part they are also more patient, nurturing, and more involved with their kids than younger fathers or when they were first time dads themselves. It also appears that with age comes wisdom.

I guess the real $64,000 question is: “Why does it take so long to figure out what really matters most in life: savoring the time with our kids and making every moment count?”

- See more at: http://www.micheleborba.com/blog/2013/06/16/do-older-men-make-better-dads-you-be-the-judge-but-heres-what-the-research-says-today-show-segment-june-4-at-820-am/#sthash.nPdHcxEk.dpuf

Michele Borba (1 Posts)

About Dr. Michele Borba Dr. Michele Borba is an internationally recognized expert and author on children, teens, parenting, bullying and moral development. Her work aims to help strengthen children’s character and resilience, build strong families, create compassionate and just school cultures, and reduce peer cruelty. Her practical, research-based advice is culled from a career of working with over one million parents and educators worldwide. National Media Contributor Media outlets regularly depend on Dr. Borba as the “go-to” expert on parenting, bullying prevention, education and child/teen issues. She is an NBC contributor appearing over 100 times on the TODAY show and is the regular parenting expert on Dr. Drew’s Lifechangers where she comments on late-breaking news and offers realistic solutions. Her work has been featured on Dr. Phil, Dateline, The View, The Doctors, Fox News, The Early Show and CNN and well as in Newsweek, People, Good Housekeeping, Chicago Tribune, U.S. News & World Report, Washington Post, The New York Times and The Globe and Mail. She was an MSNBC contributor to two televised “Education Nation” specials. Award-Winning Author Dr. Borba is the award-winning author of 22 parenting and educational books translated into 14 languages. Titles include: Don’t Give Me That Attitude!, Parents Do Make A Difference, The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries, and Nobody Likes Me, Everybody Hates Me!, No More Misbehavin’, Building Moral Intelligence (cited by Publishers’ Weekly as “Among the most noteworthy of 2001”), and Esteem Builders used by 1.5 million students worldwide. She writes as the parenting expert for Dr. Oz’s website, powered by Sharecare as well a daily column for her blog, Dr. Borba’s Reality Check. National Spokesperson Dozens of major corporations, including General Mills, 3M, Ragu, All Detergent, Splenda, Office Depot, Similac, Galderma, V-Tech, Cetaphil, Learning Curve, Florida OJ, and Mastercard, have enlisted Dr. Borba as a media spokesperson. Her services include conducting satellite-media tours (radio, TV and print) as well as live Facebook chats, blogger events, U-Stream Q and A’s, and event speaking. She served as a consultant for Wall Mart, McDonalds and Johnson & Johnson on parenting and is an advisory board member for Parents magazine. Bullying Prevention, Parenting and Character Development Expert Dr. Borba is recognized globally for her work in bullying prevention and character education. Her strategies to mobilize student bystanders to reduce peer cruelty were featured on Dateline and NBC’s Nightly News. She appeared as the bullying expert in the documentary, “Bullied to Silence” and is on the advisory board for the film “The Bully Project.” Her proposal: “Ending School Violence and Bullying” (SB1667) was signed into California law in 2002. Her thirty-year career has been devoted to developing a framework to strengthen children’s character and build moral school climates. Her best-selling book, Building Moral Intelligence, and her Character Builders program for young children (Respect, Responsibility, Caring, and Peace-Making) are used in hundreds of schools and organizations worldwide. She served as a consultant for the Center Resource Group for Character Education and Civic Engagement for the U.S. Department of Education and is on the board for Character Education Partnerships. Motivational Speaker Dr. Borba has presented keynote addresses throughout North America, Europe, Asia and the South Pacific and has served as a consultant to hundreds of schools, parent organizations, and corporations on bullying prevention, character education, and raising strong, caring kids. Audiences include McDonald's Global Women's Leadership Network Conference, American Academy of Pediatrics, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Character Plus, Phi Delta Kappa, Character Education Partnerships, the Malaysia Ministry of Education, and La Leche League. Credentialed Expert and Educational Consultant She received a Doctorate in Educational Psychology and Counseling from the University of San Francisco, an M.A. in Learning Disabilities and B.A. from the University of Santa Clara, and a Life Teaching Credential from San Jose State University. She is a former classroom teacher who has worked in regular education as well as with children with learning, physical, behavioral and emotional disabilities, and in a private practice for troubled youth. Her numerous awards include the National Educator Award, presented by the National Council of Self-Esteem; Santa Clara University’s Outstanding Alumna Award; and the Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Educational Profession, presented by the Bureau of Education and Research. She was named the Honorary Chairperson for the Implementation of Self-Esteem in Hong Kong. Wife and Mom Dr. Borba lives in Palm Springs, California with her husband and has three grown sons.


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