Is it better for men to have kids when they’re younger or older, or is it more about avoiding ‘that bubble’ in the 30s and 40s when most of us have babies? Is there a best time to have kids for dads?
Men are starting their family later in life than ever before. The average age men have kids is 33 years old in Australia, way back in 1978 it was 29. Yet, there are always men that end up starting a family outside this norm, due to starting a new relationship or other pressures.
Greg Nagy had his daughter Sara with his first wife at the age of 21. Rob Illidge had 16-month-old James with his second partner at the age of 50. Both dads see pros and cons to having children at different stages in life and also had children close to Australia’s average age for new fathers, in comparing what life is like.
Best time to have kids: Which do you think is better – younger or older? | Photo: iStock
“I felt a lot older than the other mums and dads”
Rob had his first two children in his mid 30s, then after starting a new relationship, James was born.
“I felt a bit self-conscious when I first picked him up from daycare because I felt a lot older than the other mums and dads,” says Rob.
He remembers seeing older fathers at the school his first children attended. “I remember some quite older dads, older than I am now and really quite grey or overweight and unfit or really skinny and gaunt that actually look old. They would be dressed differently, the daggy jumpers that I wouldn’t be caught dead in. I’ll be one of those. I’ll be the old guy,” he says.
“The other thing that does get to you is the amount of people who say, ‘you’ve got rocks in your head for doing that again’. It’s not your business. I bet anyone who has had a kid later in life has had that said to them,” says Rob.
He can see that community attitudes are changing and having a child at his age is not as uncommon as it was 20 years ago.
He can see clear advantages to having a child later in life. “Your actual whole approach is different because you’ve made all the mistakes with your relationship and career. So, I think your experience base of relationships and child rearing in general is so much more in your 50’s,” he says.
“Age brings wisdom doesn’t it? When you have wisdom and experience you are generally more comfortable within yourself, you let things go a bit easier, I think.”
One thing he has learnt from experience is the importance of friendship. “When I was younger, I lost contact with a lot of friends, where this hasn’t happened at all this time. I realised that was something you have to keep working on.”
Rob was also more career driven in his 30s and saw less of his family. He has learnt from experience that he needed to place himself in a position career wise where he could spend quality time with them.
Rob says there are clear advantages to having children later, in response to when is the best time to have kids. | Image: iStock.
“I had more time when I was young”
Greg Nagy also admits to having more time available with his child in his early 20s than when his son was born in his career focused 30s.
“I had more time when I was young, even though I was at uni. I think it’s just my case because my work (hours) are so stupid (now),” he says.
He can also see that having a smaller age gap between himself and his daughter was an advantage as he could remember what it was like to be her age.
However, he wouldn’t recommend a man to plan having a child at 21, like he did. “We felt like young parents. I was still at uni and almost a teenager, even your personality isn’t developed. I didn’t have the seriousness, I didn’t care too much about how she behaved, we let her loose because we were loose.”
His parents helped them out, as they had no money and Greg had to stop his uni studies. “When you are young, you don’t worry as much about the future, as it’s far, far away. When you are older you have your own problems as well, you worry more about the future, I was living more in the present,” says Greg.
Best time to have kids: Greg had more time for his daughter when he was younger. | Image: iStock.
Both men can see the advantages that wisdom and experience can bring with fatherhood.
“At 34 (when he had his first child) I wouldn’t be able to talk about this like this,” says Rob.
“A 21-year-old can’t provide a solid and stable background that is needed to raise a child,” says Greg.
This article was first published in KidSpot and republished on theAsianparent with permission.
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