The Realities of Being an Older Dad: It’s Actually Wonderful

My husband is an older dad. This is not so unusual – if anything, we’re entering an era of older dads. We met when he was 50 and I was 21. Marriage and kids was something we both wanted, and having close friends experiencing fertility issues made us keen to not waste any time. Thankfully, that turned out not to be our journey.

Our first child was due around the time of our first wedding anniversary, and while excited to become a father for the first time, Pete was nervous about what being an older dad would mean.

During the third trimester we went to a local event and bumped into a friend of his. They knew each other from way back when this guy was my husband’s leader in a youth group – he was ten years older than Pete. He took one look at my belly and said, ‘Suz is pregnant too!’ Their son was born just two weeks before ours. At 52, Pete suddenly knew he wasn’t the oldest first-time dad around – and won’t be next year when our boys start at the same kindy together!

There are things that are tough about his age. We’ve just had three kids in quick succession and the sleep deprivation doesn’t agree with either of us. I feel guilty that I’m not encouraging him to keep fit because I just need him home to be dad and husband for us. And there’s that constant awareness that I’m more likely to be a widow and single mum at some stage.

But actually, there are awesome benefits too. Pete started living independently at age 16, and has learnt how to take care of himself and his home. (For friends of mine who are with younger guys, these are not small issues to overcome.) He’s had to think and plan on his own, and seen the long-term consequences of those decisions. At work, he’s not interested in ambition or chasing promotions – he’s working toward retirement so he can be a full-time dad.

Oxytocin levels rise as a man ages, helping him to bond and commit, cuddle and be more involved with his children. People often notice this when their dad becomes a grandfather, and responds radically differently to his grandkids than he did to his own children when he was younger. For a first time dad, it means he cherishes every moment. We’ve smashed his ‘lifestyle’ to pieces, yet he’s completely grateful for this chance to raise a family.

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