Becoming a father at the age of 40 can seem daunting, especially with concerns about your health, your ability to keep up with your little one, and the reality of your vast difference in childhood experiences in very different decades. And while these are very valid worries to have, there are also many advantages to being a dad at this age.
The wisdom and experience gained after 30 are valuable for being a dad, and you’ll have settled in your career and have some financial stability. With a focus on healthy living, self-care, and good communication with your partner, becoming a father at 40 can be very fulfilling.
What are some of the advantages to being a father a little later in life, and how can you prepare yourself for fatherhood after 40?
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Becoming a Father At 40 – Unique Challenges
Being a parent is a full-time job, and being unable to keep up because of your age could be very concerning. There are many reasons you could feel overwhelmed or afraid of becoming a father later on in life, and many of these concerns are valid – but there are also incredible benefits to having kids when you’re a little more mature.
While 40 isn’t considered old, it is generally a little later than the average father’s age in the USA these days. The latest research has found that the average age of new fathers has increased since the 70s and is currently around 30. 9% of newborn babies in the States have fathers that are 40 years old, so you’re not alone.
At 40, you may have some particular concerns about becoming a parent. Let’s unpack the reasons for your anxiety about becoming a dad after age 40.
Some issues that may be worrying you could include concerns about:
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As you age, you become more vulnerable to chronic health issues and have the ‘wear and tear’ associated with being slightly older. For many, this includes not being quite as spritely and mobile as they used to be, having lower energy levels, and dealing with issues such as wearing glasses, taking medication, or dealing with certain conditions.
You may also be concerned that your health will deteriorate as your child gets older or that you will be dealing with serious issues while they are young and need an active, involved parent. Are you going to be too tired to help with night feedings? Will you be able to keep up on the sports field? What will it be like to be 60 with a child in college?
The pressure and stressors on men in society are increasing, and there is often not enough said about the mental health issues men also deal with. As we get older, these issues often become more prominent and pressing and you may be concerned that adding a child to the mix could either aggravate existing issues or trigger mental health problems due to stress.
Work and finances
An ever-present stressor regardless of age is the financial commitment of raising a child and, for some, 40 is the age where they have become incredibly invested in their careers. You may be worried that you would need to work harder to make ends meet after having a child or that your work will suffer due to the new addition to your family.
Relationships and routines
At 40, most people are pretty set in their ways, with a pattern of how and when they manage relationships with friends and family. Having a child is naturally disruptive to existing practices, and you cannot just up and leave the house to see your friends or devote time to hobbies.
Additionally, your relationship with your baby’s mother will differ after a child is added to the dynamic.
Advantages to Becoming a Father at 40
Things were very different when you were a child, and you may be rightfully concerned about your ability to relate to your kids when they are youngsters and teens.
While these are all valid worries to have, they need not be the doom-filled issues you think, as there are many advantages to being a parent at an advanced age, too:
You’ve become softer
Many older fathers report that after having dedicated their youth to silliness and ticking items off their to-do lists in their younger years, the 40s is their time to explore their softer side and give their attention to the nurturing and caring aspects of themselves.
You’ve learned a lot
Around 40, many have also dealt with difficulties in their lives, have struggled to carve out their niches, and have the benefit of experiencing relationships with many people. With age comes wisdom, as the saying goes, and parenting requires a lot of wisdom!
You’ve settled a bit
For most, 40 is the time their careers have generally balanced; your focus moves from spending money on fun and in-the-moment pleasures to investing in your future. This is an excellent frame of mind to have when parenting.
You’re friends with yourself
You’ve had a long time to get to know yourself, make mistakes, and learn from them, and at 40, you may have made peace with who you are, understand your strengths and weaknesses, and are able to identify the aspects of yourself that need work.
Tips For Dealing with Being a Father At 40
Research suggests that fathers who are a little older actually live longer – and so do their children. So how do you adequately prepare for being a father at 40? Here are some tips to help you:
- Take care of your health: Regular check-ups are crucial, especially for prostate cancer, heart problems, and hereditary conditions. Be proactive by eating healthy food, taking supplements and vitamins, avoiding or quitting toxic habits (like smoking), and doing some form of exercise to help keep your energy levels up – you’re going to need it!
- Mental health is essential: Be attentive to your mental health needs and see a professional if you feel concerned. There is no shame in seeing a professional to process concerns, equip yourself emotionally, and deal with mental health issues you may be experiencing.
- Self-care: This isn’t just a buzzword and ensuring you get enough sleep, take time out for yourself, still invest in hobbies, and do the things that recharge your batteries will be more critical than ever. Remember, this has to be done in tandem with your partner’s need for self-care, all while ensuring the baby is cared for. Communication is critical here.
- Be a unit: Following the above point, your relationship with your partner will be invaluable – if you are on the same page, can communicate effectively, and support each other well, you will make an excellent parenting team. You will need to be there for your partner as much as they need to be there for you, so discuss these issues up front and develop a game plan so you can always have each other’s back.
- Make peace: There is nothing wrong with feeling concerned about your age, but also realize that you are still capable and have all the necessary tools to be a fantastic parent. Small children are often not phased about how old their parents are – how present their dad is, how involved he is, and how they feel loved and seen is what they require more than anything else.
Continue Reading: Do Single Fathers Make Better Parents?
While having a child after age 40 can cause some anxiety for various reasons, many of these are issues you can mitigate or even preempt through effective self-care, a good partnership with your other half, and living a healthy lifestyle. The wisdom and experience that comes with age will serve you well as a parent, and how involved and present you are to your child will far outweigh how old you are in their eyes.