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Dear Garrison, I'm 46 years

May 5, 2006 |

Dear Garrison,
I'm 46 years old. My beautiful wife (38) and I are preparing for the birth of our first child. I understand that you became a parent in middle age and was wondering if you'd be kind enough to offer some advice on parenthood at my "advanced" age. I'm just a little...terrified! Thanks.

Tom C.
Kaneohe, Hawaii

I was 55 when my daughter came along, Tom, and it is, of course, a life-changing event, though I can't remember what the life-plan was at that point, nor any discussion of the pros and cons of having a baby. At this age, it's something a woman wants and a man agrees to. No 55-year-old man ever tried to persuade a woman to have a baby with him. Nature has let us know that we are past our prime. As fathers, we tend to be rather sentimental and permissive and paranoid. So we need to let the mother take the lead role and to be supportive and helpful and sympathetic but make no demands as to how the child should be reared. No thundering, no stamping of the paternal foot. We made a wise decision to move back to Minnesota where our daughter has relatives. Very important for the older dad. Your nephews can gallop around with the child and you can sit on the divan and read the newspaper. But you'll probably have to cut back on your extra-familial activities for awhile. And if you smoke, you'll stop. And you might reconsider drinking if you drink. One reappraises all sorts of things. I hope you and your wife get a baby who's a good sleeper, but sometimes God plays jokes and hands out the good sleepers to teenage parents and gives us older parents the insomniac child. God bless you both and may all go well with the little family.

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