It is more and more common these days for people to start a family later on in life, which means more men are becoming first-time dads closer to 40 and older. Our generation has different attitudes about working and having families than our parents. Many of us chose to work first, become financially secure, and then start a family. Therefore, older moms and dads are becoming a more common sight. As an older dad, I find this welcoming given the extra life experience I’ll have to pass onto my children.
However, is choosing to have kids later in life the best option?
Clearly this is a decision that must be made on the individual circumstances of you and your partner. However, you should be aware of both the positives and negatives of becoming a dad later in life. Obviously, the best thing to do is talk to a doctor. In the meantime, here are some things to keep in mind:
Research points to high miscarriage rates for couples over 35, with the rate increasing with increased age. Some doctors recommend that a man consider fathering a child before the age of 45 because sperm has been shown to deteriorate in quality as years go by. Previously, studies focused mostly on women. However, new evidence points to problems with male sperm when trying to conceive later.
Studies show that parenting later in life leads to an increased risk of babies with heart defects, autism, schizophrenia and epilepsy. Again, the older the dad, the higher the risk. A recent study suggests that an older dad is four times more likely to father a child with Down’s syndrome.
Older dads have become much more accepted over the last few decades. High profile older dads like Michael Douglas have helped people become more open to the idea.
As an older dad, you are probably more likely to be financially secure. This can help provide a family lifestyle that you may not have been able to provide earlier in life.
With kids, patience is a major requirement! Many men claim that they have more patience later in life than they did in their youth. This may translate into enjoying your children more as an older dad.
It’s not just the woman who needs to physically prepare for the birth of a baby later in life. Kids are exhausting and you will need to keep up your energy level to match their non-stop energy. Start by keeping yourself fit and healthy. You may face losing your hair and other weird changes with your body, but that does not mean you can’t keep yourself fit. And, you’ll need it.
Guest author Alan Murray is a dad of two boys.