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Dear Wendy

Fatherhood Dilemma

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  • #1032097 Reply
    avatarron
    Guest

    He wants “to father children” not simply be a father to a child. This is a limiting factor. So you just have some great desire to perpetuate your own genes, or ‘fathering a child’ is a handy excuse for seeking a much younger woman. If you think that being a father to a child would be a worthwhile, fulfilling role that you would excel at, then please consider more feasible options, such as marriage to a single mother with children (and not expecting that she will be interested in another child to perpetuate your genes). Frankly, at your age, regardless of how energetic you think you are and how great a Dad you would be, you will be at least 74 when the child you father leaves college. I can tell you from the experience of an early 70s guy — not so energetic at that age. The additional 22 years of age do make a difference.

    #1032258 Reply
    avatarCarrotstick21
    Participant

    I dated men in my 50’s when I was in my 30’s, and they made it clear that they were doing so because they wanted to have children. That was a strange feeling, for sure, but I was open to it. There is a dynamic that is inescapable when one of you is trying to wind down a career and the other is ramping it up, and there were cultural touchpoints that were very different (music preference, for example.) Overall I would say they were positive experiences, though ultimately did not lead to a long term situation (My husband is five years older than me.) So yes, it’s possible, if you bear in mind that you will need to adapt a bit to different perspectives.

    The biggest issue you will have is the judgment of other people (as you’ve already seen here.) Some women get VERY ANGRY about men dating much younger women, which is justified when we are talking about a grown adult dating a teenager, but not so much when everyone is over 30. You will have to endure some backlash about that. The same thing happens when you date outside your race, I have discovered. Everyone feels entitled to share their opinion about it. And that public scrutiny aspect adds additional strain on a relationship, which is already hard enough with just trying to connect and make room in your life for someone else.

    All that said, though, men are really fortunate that they can father children later into their lives. It’s an unfair biological fact, but it’s no one’s fault. There is an increase in potential issues the older you are when you have a kid (risk of autism goes up with father’s age, for example.) So do all your medical screenings and get as healthy as you can.

    I hope you find your person and have some great kiddos.

    #1032259 Reply
    avataranonymousse
    Participant

    But your anecdotal story didn’t end in a marriage or children…so, you’re literally saying it’s possible but your chosen example to illustrate that…is proof it probably doesn’t work out.

    The biggest issue won’t be the judgement from women. If that’s your biggest concern in your life, congratulations. Do you really think anyone actually cares that much about anyone else’s life? At most they laugh at him and think she’s desperate or pathetic.

    Most of the commenters are women in the age range he is hoping to date. Unless he looks like an older male model or is rich, it’s a steep challenge. My example is his own life’s experiences of never quite getting there.

    #1032460 Reply
    avatarCarrotstick21
    Participant

    I mean, I guess if we want to extrapolate that the three men I dated who didn’t wind up as my husband are evidence that no men in their 50s ever wind up with women in their 30s where it does work out, go on. I believe it can work out just fine, depending on the two people involved. I can’t change someone’s mind on that and I won’t try. And while the snide implication that I must care too much about other’s opinions is a real zinger, my point was that having to endure constant comments and derision from literal strangers is a burden on top of the actual challenge of trying to date and figure out a relationship between two people. It adds an unwelcome public element to something that should be private business, but suddenly isn’t. I can’t speak to the age of commenters here but I sure can for the people who felt themselves welcome to comment on my life on the street and in stores.

    And my biggest concern in life is that I lost my child, so there you go.

    #1032651 Reply
    avatarKate
    Keymaster

    Ok, from the nature of your response, it’s clear that you do care a lot what strangers think about you. Which isn’t true of everyone. I suspect this guy who wrote the post wouldn’t be bothered in the slightest by people looking at him some type of way for dating a younger woman.

    #1032723 Reply
    avataranonymousse
    Participant

    You were actually the person who said his biggest concern would be comments from others. I disagree and said if that’s your biggest concern (being the collective you- not you personally) congratulations.

    I didn’t literally say that is YOUR biggest concern.

    I’m sorry you lost a child.

    #1033709 Reply
    avatarMB
    Guest

    I have never commented here before, just lurked, but as I am both a woman in her 30s and the daughter of a man who was 59 when I was born…I have some thoughts.

    My dad was, at least before I got old enough to disagree with him, an involved parent, at least when it came to the fun parts of parenting (and there are a lot of less fun parts! Which pretty much fell on my mom). He was in pretty good physical shape until his 70s, although my mom did most of the physical stuff with me – wrestling, playing catch, signing up for sports activities together. He was also retired for most of my childhood, which had both good and bad points. In public, people often assumed he was my grandfather. That was weird, but I was used to it.

    But here’s the thing: I knew from a VERY young age that he would probably die while I was still young. I knew that if I had children, it was very unlikely he would ever meet them. That “great” marriage he had with a much younger woman deteriorated and broken up by the time I got to high school – not an inevitability of any age-gap relationship, but also not an uncommon pattern. When I was in my mid-20s in grad school, he was in his 80s, and didn’t really know how to function without a woman taking care of him, although I hope that men of younger generations are more self-reliant.

    Then he developed Alzheimer’s. Then he got cancer. I was his medical power of attorney, although thankfully he had a very clear and unambiguous advance directive. He didn’t even make it until I graduated, much less until I was established in life (still working on that in my mid-30s, to be honest!). My mom ended up stepping up to manage end-of-life care despite them being divorced for years prior, in part so I wouldn’t fail out of grad school (I still took an extra year).

    Of course there are no guarantees in life, and people can die at any time. But if I wanted children, I would not have them with someone 15-25 years older than me; those odds are hard (the average US male life expectancy is 78), and I personally wouldn’t set out to put my kid in the potential position of making medical power of attorney choices in their 20s. Just because men *can* biologically father children essentially until they die doesn’t mean that it’s an unfraught thing to set kids up for high odds of losing at least one parent by young adulthood (this is, I think, even more fraught if one goes the single parent route). I think it’s really important to think about what having an older parent means for the children as well as the parents.

    #1033710 Reply
    avatarKate
    Keymaster

    I was going to say that too, that I’m glad my dad was 25 when I was born, not 55. The other good thing too is that he’s only 23 years older than my brother, who can’t live independently. My parents are still caring for him now when he’s 48 and they’re 71.

    But then I didn’t say it because I guess there are no guarantees a guy lives into old age. But like, you have kids when you’re old, it’s pretty certain you’re not going to be in their lives very long as an active human. Much of their experience with you will be your decline, which is sad.

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