What is it like to be an older father

Young father or old father - who can do it better?

Become a father? Cool idea! Very happy - but when? There are actually only two variants for this.

No. 1: family planning. Above all, it is the men who want to find the best time to have a baby and who discuss it endlessly. As far as possible nothing should be left to chance. The prerequisites have to be right and coordinated with the soon-to-be-mom: First of all, of course, the desire for children that both of them long for, but also the guaranteed existential basis (apartment, salary) and money for various purchases (cradle & Co.).

No. 2: the surprise. It's the classic that briefly brings men to their knees: "Darling, I'm pregnant." Boom! Hit! In this second, any further theoretical discussion of the point in time has become superfluous. Passed - and confirmed by the pregnancy test. It is now time to act, gentlemen, your life may not start completely again, but in any case it will now continue in a completely different way.

Whether carefully planned or unprepared, the future mothers seem to be somehow already intuitively prepared for their tasks. Most "new" fathers find themselves in a forest of "what to do" question marks looking for orientation. And right now, at this early moment, the spirits of fathers-to-be are dividing. We have decided on two types.

Father types

Type one: the participant

He immediately accepts his role with enthusiasm. This includes, among other things: Refraining from nicotine and alcohol - at least in the presence of the future mom, reducing your own preferences such as going to sport, instead accompanying you to ultrasound or preventive appointments, active participation in pregnancy exercises in preparation for the birth and also during the birth itself if that is desired.

Exemplary! However, with one small restriction: there are also the so-called "hundred percent". These are fathers who take their role not only seriously, but too seriously, who would like to wrap the soon-to-be-mom in cotton wool and want to do everything - literally everything - for her. If the assistance is consistently not only good, but meant too well, you and the man are just as annoying. There is nothing designated mothers like less than being condemned to passivity.

Type two: the retractor

He also accepts the new situation, but sees himself more as a spectator and less as an active participant in the pregnancy. And there are reasons. He feels - not at all badly meant - insecure or out of place, if only when it comes to a few breathing exercises at the gynecologist. He buys all the ingredients for a nice meal, but also cooks himself? D rather not.

The thought of witnessing the birth live gave him sleepless nights months beforehand. When it comes to deciding which of the pre-selected strollers it should be, he shrugs his shoulders, looks at his partner and says: "Please, you decide." Let's take a look ahead: Even later pushing the stroller through the streets with a baby on board is more likely to fail with a pull back.

What in the end sounds like an excuse, maybe also looks like disinterest or laziness, is your own claim and the exaggerated expectation of not wanting to do anything wrong. The retractor is over-cautious and just as over-correct. This "type of father-to-be" sees his responsible task in only doing what he has mastered and what suits him: to secure his young family financially as best as possible with professional skills and tireless commitment.

Participant and Backers - two different characters. Everyone contributes something in their own way to ensure that mother and child are well before and after the birth.

Is it a question of age, which fathers behave and how?

In the following phases of life - out of the diapers and into the daycare center, school, apprenticeship up to the age of majority - an incredible amount is happening for growing children who are more independent from year to year. But also for parents who (maybe even with other kids) have to learn during the individual upbringing phases to move with the times, not to stand still and, above all, not to miss the connection with the young people's mindsets. Keeping pace protects against faster aging.

And how are "our fathers" developing in all these years?

The participant continues to be committed, albeit a little less with more maturity. He has never lost sight of his own life and has given it a few new impulses. For the most part, the marriages of fellow participants held up quite well in all the stormy parenting times.

The retractor still likes to withdraw, but a little less over the years. His fear of contact has given way to a little positive confidence that older children can benefit from. But the retractor never completely gives up his original caution. This can include his withdrawal from marriage.

Is it also a question of age when fathers behave like this?

Smart question - clear answer: It doesn't matter whether younger or older fathers are better. Every age has its characteristic advantages and disadvantages (see below). The most decisive criterion is the inner, age-independent attitude with which every father defines his role as a legal guardian according to his own individual standards and then implements it in everyday life.

Understanding, tolerance and authority are certainly among the best, most important and most successful dad virtues - at every father's age!

Young father ...

Anyone who becomes a father at the age of 25 (the ideal age for 88 percent according to surveys) is "only" 43 when their child is of legal age. This leaves them enough time to re-steer their lives. Even professional career opportunities could open up again. Even when the third child flies, it will still be around the early 1950s. No thought of retirement!

Old father ...

If you become a father at the age of 45 (according to surveys, this is an ideal age for only 2.8 percent), you let your offspring go into independence at 63 (when the child is of legal age?) You have (almost) reached your retirement age, you have lived your professional life, the child out of the house, retirement beckons and no longer any obligations.

Our conclusion: The main thing is a good father!

Our columnist: Joko Zoellner

Joachim "Joko" Zoellner can look back on a long and full career in journalism. His professional positions include among other things editor-in-chief (partly deputy) at Springer-Verlag. Zoellner was and is passionately active as an author, especially in the sports and family area.

The studied theologian also founded the publishing house "Jokomedia UG" and the magazine "Familie & Co." For wireltern.de he regularly writes entertaining and informative columns on the topics of family, children and upbringing. He criticizes and comments - always with a wink - common methods and everyday misunderstandings between parents and children.