There are many ways to quash discussion. One of them, in vogue today, is to refuse to separate ideas from individuals. Do you think illegal immigration is a problem? You obviously hate migrants and what is more, you are xenophobic. Are you concerned about men adopting babies? This means that you surely hate men or babies or those who identify as homosexual. Facts are irrelevant. Somehow we don’t make the same link when someone hates, let’s say, cancer. We don’t tell them that it must mean that they hate cancer patients. This method is only useful when it can shut down debate and dialogue.
I am going to comment on an article I just read, but because of the above phenomenon, I need to preface my words by saying that I wish the individuals involved health and long life and good things. That doesn’t mean that I can’t question the idea being touted.
A man named Peter Sagal wrote a moving account of being the almost 60-year-old father of two little boys. He can predict the type of comments he will get when people understand that he is not the grandfather of his young sons. His second wife is quite a bit younger than he is and while he did not seek more children already having some from a first marriage, he writes, “I couldn’t deny my wife her most profound desire, motherhood, as a condition for spending the rest of her life with me.”
He further elucidates that since he assumes he will die first, he didn’t want to leave his wife alone. The rest of the article discusses the wisdom he has acquired with age, such as added patience and the chance to avoid some of the parenting mistakes he made the first time. He is calmer and more able to enjoy his children this time around. All this is well and good. What I found missing from the entire article was any thought about what drawbacks there might be for his two young sons.
Now, I am in favor of married couples raising children. I have nothing to say about this particular couple and, not being God, their lives are not in my control. The author of the article gave his sons the gift of life, not something to downplay. But I do have something to say about the trend towards later parenthood, either because women must do “important” things first in their careers or because of examples like the one above.
A good and loving God created women’s bodies to yearn for children. Wise women choose noble men as husbands partially to fulfill that craving. However, in the final analysis, much of having children demands selflessness. A baby sleeping peacefully in one’s arms is delectable. Those precious hours easily get counterbalanced by the baby screaming, spitting up, and needing changing. Older children, teenagers, and adult children are blessings—ones that come with much-needed time and support, and considerable frustration and worry.
In the natural course of events, young people marry and have children. While they will acquire wisdom as they get older, their younger selves have energy and statistically, they have more years ahead of them. Will children whose fathers will be in their eighties as they hit their teens be in the position of being caretakers rather than beginning their own independent lives? Will their own children be deprived of the gift of grandparents?
Every situation has pluses and minuses. As I said, I wish the Sagal family well. I would hope, however, that anyone who reads that article and sees it as proof that he need not marry and have children while young, might pause and ask himself if he is expressing love for himself at the cost of those future children. Any woman considering freezing her eggs so that she can further her career and still have children in her forties might want to question if she will worry too late about the price she is asking those children to pay.
BONUS: This week, we are opening the comment section to all readers.
We look forward to hearing your opinions on the advantages and disadvantages of older fathers.
Scroll down to leave your comment below.
We Happy Warrior members can both read and write comments HERE.
Not a member yet? Check out our Basic Membership and join the conversation.
13 thoughts on “The Benefits of Older Fathers”
“A good and loving God created women’s bodies to yearn for children.” Of course, especially as a visitor to this website, I will not argue at all with that statement. I will just point out that I have several childless friends, all of us over the age of sixty, and we all knew very early that we did not want to have children. Several of us have sisters who greatly enjoy having children and grandchildren, and we enjoy being aunts and great-aunts.
What we yearned for, in our youth, was not to be questioned/judged regarding our childlessness. But all of us received flak for it, a little or a lot. Staying quiet and avoiding the subject was no guarantee of being left in peace. I try to remember that when I am tempted to judge other people for their own reproductive decisions. I sometimes judge anyway, but I try to keep the judgments to myself.
I’m glad you are visiting, Anne. I am just reading a memoir by Nina Tottenberg about her relationship with Ruth Bader Ginsberg and she discusses her own decision not to have children. F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.” I don’t know about it being a test of first-rate intelligence; I think it is a feature of being human. At one and the same time, God created each of us as unique individuals. He also created us as members of a group, whether male or female, born in one country rather than another, healthy or not, etc. We flourish in the company of other people and do our best in societies that follow certain rules. It is none of my personal business to know if a specific woman or a specific couple chooses not to have children or if they don’t have them because they weren’t so blessed despite desperately wanting them. It is my business if society encourages people to not have children. That can include heavy governemnt intervention or a lighter government hand and social pressure. I do believe that women as a group, in a healthy environment, yearn for children. That does not negate your experience. I hope I answered as politely as you wrote.
My parents couldn’t have children. After years of trying, then starting the adoption process, then moving states and having to start the adoption process again they ended up being older parents. They adopted a boy when my dad as 40 and then me when he was 42. Mom was seven years younger. All through school I had the oldest parents except for my friends who were seventh or eight children in the family. Catholic area. There were so many benefits of having older financially stable parents. There were also cons. By 37 I had lost both of my parents. My son was so young he barely remembers my father.
Lisa, each of us gets the package designed for us with its pluses and minuses, as you did. It sounds like your parents cherished having children and that is a gift more children should get.
Comments are not showing up. And, the comments are not open to all readers. I can only access this post if I try anonymously with Edge or Firefox and now the comments aren’t showing up. Something’s wrong.
Randy, I’m seeing 2 comments from you showing, in addition to this one. On our member site, WeHappyWarriors.com, comments appear without needing approval, but on this site, they await approval. We are short-staffed today. If you do not see your 3 comments, please let us know.
Yes- Not a first choice, but not such a bad choice considering the alternatives. Good parenting in less than optimum circumstances is far superior to average parenting in the first choice circumstance. I don’t know anything about Mr. Sagal but if he’s raising God-fearing children and teaching wisdom, his progeny will be far more beneficial to the world than someone doing it in “first-choice” circumstances and handing his children over to the state or modern private school. I believe being a grandparent must be a wonderful thing and great blessing but being a great parent is critical and essential. If you lose the former to have the latter, as a matter of necessity, I have no problem with that. I hope to be a grandparent one day, but if not, I’m happy to miss out on that and am fulfilled knowing I had children and have presented the world with three God-serving warriors. Now my wife may disagree, but I doubt it deep in her heart.
I am 70; my daughter is 7 months. God gave me the ability; what a foolish idea that one must be young to have children; show me this idea in God’s word. I am amazed at how you are so lacking and unable to accept a world that only you see as right. The world has changed; the culture that produced me is dead and gone: the libs did not destroy it; it died a natural death. Embrace a brave new world; mourn not the passing of the old. The path of life leads upward for the prudent to keep them from going down to the realm of the dead.
I think it’s more complicated than you present. It can’t be boiled down to, well he’s so old he’ll die soon and deprive them of a father earlier. I am an older father and I used to believe my situation was definitely outside the desired norm but we chose to have children anyway, understanding the risks that I’m significantly older.
I’m 60 years old, my wife is 45, and we have 3 boys 15, 17, and 18. I’m retired USAF and 100% disabled and so I have not had to have a paying job for the last 15 years. Here’s some pro’s and con’s above and beyond what the article said:
– Both of us have been able to homeschool all three boys full time. We’re giving them a strenuous classical education and they’re magnificently soaking it up. That would be impossible for my wife alone to do.
– We’ve been free of the chains to a paying job by me starting late. We recently finished spending 7 years in Peru as volunteer workers in orphanages. That experience for our boys would have been unachievable with the normal mode.
– With age comes wisdom and more importantly a willingness to not conform to cultural pressures and that has drastically helped us fight the woke evils in our culture; not with isolation, but with immersion in culture and me being able to teach them what’s wrong with what they see. That would be virtually impossible with the normal mode.
– With age comes humility. I don’t think I’d have raised three great mature warriors if I’d done it at the normal age. Back then, I considered myself the very best of the very best in what I did and that arrogance would’ve poisoned them.
– With age, I’ve come to realize that they need to be taught morality from me and skills from the best available teachers. The bible is a daily part of our life and we talk all the time about faith and morals. But, when they show an interest in a skill, I find the means to hire an expert to teach them: Violin, piano, flute, organ, flying (I’m the expert), horse riding, karate, advanced driving, marksmanship, archery, basketball, etc.
– Having completed my career, I have many friends that are world-class in their specialties and experience. Our boys get to meet them and learn deep things from them- No other kid could have that opportunity.
– A con is that they never saw me leaving the house to earn money from my original profession. They’ve heard stories, but didn’t witness it themselves. But, they saw me leaving the house all the time for our volunteer service and now to procure what we need to live.
– Another con is that I haven’t been able to physically interact with them a lot in sports or camping. I can’t really run after balls and pick them up but much of that is due to disability rather than age. I also just don’t have the energy and sometimes even the will to get out there and physically interact.
– The other obvious con is that I statistically won’t live long enough to see grandchildren and care for my wife. But, I’m not really concerned about statistics. Most of my best friends died young in service, many are too messed up to raise a family, and the alternative of raising kids in the “norm” having to put them in public school or even private religious school I think is not really acceptable to me any more. Woke seems to be taught everywhere now except at home.
This is not a simple topic to be boiled down to, well the father is going to die too soon. I could die tomorrow and my family will absolutely thrive. And, that would not have been true if I had the “normal” situation.
Randy, I appreciate your reply and it sounds like you are giving a tremendous amount to your boys. They are fortunate to have you and your wife. I wrote what I did because when I read the piece I felt any other perspective was missing. Thank you for your detailed and thoughtful words. If I may say, the author is also starting to have children over a decade later than you did. I wouldn’t see that as a first choice. As I said, he is giving the gift of life which is precious in and of itself.
Your article is well written and thoughtful, Miss Susan. It seems artifice & promiscuity have given too many men permission to settle down and create life when they are on the time track to be grandfathers. What these forces have done to women and children is another conversation entirely. Idolatry (in this case idolatry of careers/adultery) transforms the sacred into the profane almost instantly.
Any man who denies his wife children is not a man worth his salt, to borrow a Roman expression. This 60 year old man fulfilled his wedding vows by giving life. Yet it’s curious how much salt he wasted to spoil his seed in younger years.
Like you, I do not place judgement on people’s individual decisions. Yet it is disturbing to see the continued interruptions to the natural rhythms of life, of which birth is the most important. America has become an anti-natalist culture, and our lack of social health stems from treating children as a source of anxiety. Let’s all pray G-d will move us towards a culture of life.
Thanks for listening.
Thank you for summing up what is bothering me, Heidi. It isn’t older parents – it is not unknown in my family for a mother and her oldest daughter to be giving birth at the same time. I do find troubling the attempt to interfere with the normal order of things and for the focus to be on what the adult wants and needs without thinking about the child.
Comments are closed.