Two weeks ago, my amazing wife gave birth to our daughter. We are both thirty-eight and by today standards, the age could be classed as just above average. I might even be considered an old dad! The unusual aspect of this is that we had our first daughter seventeen years ago and our second daughter 14 years ago. A lot has happened since the arrival our first beautiful daughter both bad and good, which has given me time to reflect on dad differences between me as a young dad versus an old(ish) dad.
As soon I left University in 2000 my now wife was expecting our first child. Completely unexpected and I can look back and see how immature I was at the time. I was also anxious and stressed caused by the fear of the unknown and large expectations of immediately getting a job and a house to raise the young family in. With little to no income, it was a daunting prospect that I was about to become a father.
I managed to secure a job and we got put into social housing. This phase of my life shaped the way I would approach the next phase of my life:
- I wanted to get my own house and work my way up the property ladder and;
- I wanted to be able to provide for my family the best I could.
On reflection, perhaps I put too much energy into this.
By the time our second daughter had arrived we had managed to secure a mortgage on our first family home and bought a share in a small business using a graduate loan. The anticipation of our second daughter was much more relaxed as we had experienced a lot of firsts with our eldest.
If I could offer any advice to my younger self it would be to not worry as much. Things tend to work themselves out, and what appears to be a stressful situation really isn’t worth the time and energy worrying about it.
Don’t work all the hours you can. Spend as much time with your family and embrace it, strike a good work/life balance. Things won’t always work smoothly.
A traumatic event in December 2016 changed our family life forever. Our then youngest daughter passed away suddenly from Addison’s disease. It has rocked us to the core and I can’t really put into words how much this hurts. I’m not mentally ready to expand on details at the moment but we have had the support of friends, family and counsellors to help us through some really dark times. I miss her terribly and think about her constantly.
The death of a child makes you sit back and put your own life goals into perspective. We had only planned on having two children and because we were young parents, planned on travelling when they had grown up.
My wife and I discussed at great lengths that we still had time on our sides to have another child. We decided we would try for another child and due to our age weren’t expecting anything to happen anytime soon. It’s strange how life works as my wife fell pregnant at the first time of trying.
The main differences from being an older dad compared to a young parent are:
Along with this is a more relaxed attitude. By no means do we know it all but there is also a great deal of knowledge at our fingertips with apps and websites.
2. Our Support Network has grown.
Both sides of our family have grown around us and we have friends who mean a great deal to us.
3. Friends with kids of a similar age
This is a big one for me personally. When we had our first and second born daughters we were the only parents in our circle of friends with kids. Whilst they were out partying most weekends we would be in the house doing the dance routines with the babies trying to settle them down. This has now gone full circle and all friends have families of their own so we are able to socialise in a more family-friendly way.
4. Fitness & Health
Although now older and more weathered, I think our family is more health conscious. We look at what we eat and try to exercise most days. This enables us to feel energised and able to cope with day-to-day parenting.
A big sister who dotes on her younger sister is also a great help!
No matter what age we become parents the end result can be rewarding. What is important to remember is that things can become stressful for one reason or another. It is vital that you share this with friends, family, a health provider or charity support worker as there are always people who are willing to listen and offer their advice.