Is he wiser, wealthier, more relaxed and self-confident – or will the over-40 dad be a dud? Also known as Old New Dads, the number of men having children over 40 has skyrocketed in the last decade. Though the majority of men – nearly 85% -- still have children in their 20’s and 30’s, about 15% now have children over 40. Older moms who’ve put off childrearing and the 50% of marriages that end in divorce are mostly responsible, with Simon Cowell, George Lucas, and Mick Jagger spotlighting both the first-time and the do-over dad who’s also a grandad.
Anthony Anzione, a forty-five-year-old widowed attorney who has two college-age daughters, never thought about being an older dad. He and business owner Liz Carleton are the main characters in my novel, Educating Anthony. Anthony tells Liz he’s thinking about “having more money to spend” and “cutting back on work and enjoying life more.” Most women would be thrilled to be with a guy with that attitude but Liz -- facing 40 and wanting a baby -- has other plans!
After years of relationships that broke her heart, Liz discovered it’s as easy to buy premium sperm on the internet as it is to buy shoes so she begins in vitro fertilization using donor sperm. At the same time, Liz happened to reconnect with Anthony, a crush from years ago, but knows she needs to get the baby-making party started NOW, before she turns 40. Every month counts when your eggs have reached their “use-by” date but Liz and Anthony – though close in age -- are miles apart in the timelines of their lives.
Old New Dads like Anthony Anzione will be joining AARP while they still have kids in elementary school and they might not have the limitless energy they had in their 30’s. Guzzling energy drinks and driving carpools can make anyone cranky, but Old New Dads might wonder what the heck happened when their friends are off playing golf and going on cruises.
When people ask the grey-haired dad “How old is your grandson?” I’m sure it’s a drag. Maybe we should put that on the list of questions to ‘never, ever, ever ask,’ along with that tricky trick question to a woman who looks pregnant -- “When are you due?” Just. Don’t. Ask. Ever.
On the other hand, older fathers can have patience and a wealth of life experience that younger dads are lacking. They are often more successful and more focused on family life than they were in the intense career-building years, mindful of the fact that tomorrow is another day to learn from your mistakes. “Of course I miss him but his patience and kindness set me up for life,” said a friend who lost her older father when she was eleven years old. “He never got angry and always made time for me.”
I’ve personally done the child-raising thing in the traditional time frame, but because it is by far the best thing I’ve ever done with my life, I’ve got to believe it will be fabulous – no matter how old you are when you do it!