It doesn’t matter how you became a new dad at (or around) 40. What matters is you did, and because of that, you are in rare company. According to the National Center for Health Statistics (Report 51, table 11), birthrates for new dads over 40 are up in the last decade by approximately 4%. My personal experience has been as a first-time father (to LB) at 38, and a new dad again (to LG) at 40. I am an expert, do not dispute me.
Here are Five Bonuses of Being a New Dad at (or Around) 40
5) You’re an Expert in Something
By the time a guy hits 40, he’s done some stuff. Maybe you’ve worked through an entire career trajectory, created your own business, become a master in the trades, learned all the knots, or maybe you’re simply the go-to guy when someone needs help moving. You’ve probably had some cool hobbies (in my case, improvisational comedy, video games, role play gaming), you’ve cultivated some interesting abilities (I do impressions), you’ve pursued intellect (I was really good at Trivia Crack before I deleted it from my phone), and you’ve become an expert in the world of sports (I have not). By the time a guy hits 40, he’s got a very particular set of skills. Skills he has acquired over a very long career.
If you recognized the previous passage from Liam Neeson’s speech in Taken, then you’ve got the ability to remember movie dialogue. Go you.
There’s no guarantee your young son or daughter will appreciate your particular set of skills. But demonstrating the cumulative benefit of knowledge, and the tenacity to stick with something to get better at it? That’s a valuable lesson.
4) The Music From Your Youth is Awesome
The other day, Guns & Roses, “Paradise City”, popped up on my random playlist. I thought, “Man, this song is just as good as it was when it came out.” Obviously, I don’t feel so far removed from the rebellious teenager cranking that song, cruising around in my ’83 Ford Granada while chugging a Surge. But to my kids, that song will be the musical timeline equivalent to me and Frank Sinatra’s “Everybody Loves Somebody” from 1948. Let that sink in. 1948. But, here’s where #40Dad has an advantage: We’ve lived through the death of disco, the rise of the punk era, the creation and evolution of new wave, the birth of hip hop, the pinnacle of metal, the worst country music ever made, the most popular country music ever made, grunge, techno, industrial, dubstep, and four decades of some of the most contrived pop music ever written for the love of money. And despite being born after the Rolling Stones put out their best music (in 1974, they released It’s Only Rock and Roll – their 14th album, give or take), we can still see them on freaking tour this summer!! Keith Richards will outlive our children, of this I’m certain.
So, where was I going with this? We’ve had access to tons of music – on vinyl, 8-track, cassette, cd, downloading, and streaming. We can guide our children in so many different (and awesome) musical directions, they’ll hopefully escape the influence of the Justin Biebers, Iggy Azaleas, and One Directionses of the world.
Commonly cited as one of the main advantages to being an “older parent”, patience is a serious virtue when it comes to wrangling a toddler. The logic is, by 40, we’ve been through plenty of situations which have required us to defer our gratification. We’ve been in the rat-race so long, that it’s rewarding to pause and enjoy being a parent.
That sounds great, but honestly, I just don’t have the ambition to be impatient. I’d love to be a helicopter parent, but my knee hurts. Most importantly, I don’t want to lead with an example of haste, because someday (sooner than the 25 yr old dad has it comin’), my kids will be selecting my assisted living facility. I’d like them to take their time when making that decision.
2) Hangovers are Worse
You may be thinking, “But Jason, this was a list of BONUSES of being a 40 year old dad. Worse hangovers are no bonus!” See, and right there, you’ve messed up bonus number 3. You should be more patient and read on.
At a certain age, the human body will increase the penalties for doing stupid things. For me, that age was 37. I could enjoy a number (left to your imagination) of drinks at age 36, and wake up the next morning feeling relatively fine, and fully-functional. But at age 37, my body began demonstrating the power of the dark side. Leg cramps, migraines, day-long nausea, and lower GI tract issues which are best left undescribed. My choices were to chill-out a bit more – or to fall apart. I chose to chill-out. Thanks to my 40 year old body, my kids see a father who knows his limits and interacts with alcohol responsibly. Perfect. I’d rather they believe that than “daddy’s liver used up all its magic”.
1) Senior Discounts
I have this vision. I’m sitting in a restaurant with Chris and our two kids. LB is 17 years old and LG is 15. Other teenagers whom they know are also at this restaurant. I’m 55, and I ask for the senior discount (55+ at most restaurants). My children recoil in abject horror. The nerve of not only demonstrating, but REJOICING, in one’s advanced age! How uncool! Then, I smirk and eat my liver and onions (or whatever further accentuates my elderly status in front of my children’s friends). That is my vision. My vision of the future.
All joking aside, the reality is that a 40 year old dad will be nearly 60 when his child graduates from high school. The lessons you can teach to your kids between now and then, come with decades of experience. From financial responsibility to health and personal wellness, you can relate your ups and downs and help your kids succeed. The real bonus is that you’ve had longer than most parents to sort all of that stuff out. But even if you haven’t, show your kids that you’re never too old to change.