Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Please visit our new site at

Fathers After 40 has a new domain and a revamped site. Please check us out our new site where we will continue the conversation about the life-changing experiences of being an older dad or of being the child of older parents.

Join us now at

Paul "Daddy G." Garber

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

We've moved

Fathers After 40 can now be found here.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Can we help this expectant father?

I got a post on a recent topic that I felt deserved a post of its own. Here it is:

On our 20th anniversary, my wife and I found out she was pregnant. I am 46 she is 45. We have a 16 year old daughter and a 13 year old son. We both are scared about being older parents and need help.

That must have been quite the anniversary surprise! My parents went through that as well - my mother and father were in their 40s when my brother and I came along, and had already raised three kids. I was still in college when my mother retired at 65. There were some advantages of being the late arrival, particularly in terms of stability. Most of my older siblings moved frequently in their youths as my dad went from job to job, while I spent my entire childhood in one neighborhood.

But I recognize as well that for the parents there are also significant downsides. I guess the key question is - what about being an older parent scares you?

Anyone else with thoughts?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

No room for the changing table on the campaign bus

More from my semi-regular, semi-serious coverage of the '08 presidential campaign featuring an unprecedented number of older dads.

A group of five would-be first ladies recently joined host Maria Shriver for a Conference on Women in Long Beach, Calif.

I loved a quote from Jeri Thompson, wife of candidate and older dad Fred Thompson. During the conference, Jeri spoke indignantly about being asked to join the campaign bus, but being told there was no room for a changing table. (The couple have a son, Samuel, who is still in diapers.)

Jeri Thompson says she remembers responding "I'm not going unless they find room for the changing table."

Amen - you gotta have the changing table if you're making a long trip with baby. That didn't stop the quote from ending up as fodder on "The Daily Show." Jon Stewart ran a clip from the convention with Thompson's quote, then adds "...and that's how the world learned Fred Thompson wears a diaper." You can watch for yourself here, with that particular quote coming about two minutes into the clip. Standard language warning applies.

Photo: One of these things is not like the other...(L-R) Jeri Thompson, Michelle Obama, Ann Romney, Elizabeth Edwards, and Cindy Hensley McCain pose together after speaking at the California Governor and First Lady's Conference on Women on Oct. 23. Romney is the only one who did not have a child near the time or after their husband turned 40. AP Photo by Matt Sayles

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

New Autism web video tool

We've talked a lot about autism as a potential risk factor for older dads - in fact it could be argued that coverage of the autism study that showed the link led to the (long overdue) wave of coverage about the "male biological clock" phenomenon.

To many people, the spectrum of disorders associated with autism have been somewhat difficult to understand. What do they mean, for example, when they talk about such things as deficits in social reciprocity? Even if you can wrap your mind around the concept, you may not be sure if you're seeing those behaviors in your child.

If you're looking for help, there's a great new tool at the Autism Speaks Web site - an autism "video glossary" that helps explains some of the terms used in discussing autism. What I really like about the video glossary is that they have videos of "typical behaviors" in normally developing kids next to videos of similar behaviors that are acted out differently in kids who are showing red flags for autism. It really helps make some of the language much clearer to be able to see it.

You do have to register to use the site, but it's simple, just providing a name e-mail and password. I spent quite a bit of time on the site today and feel like I understand autism much better for having done so.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Father figures, part 2: Nick Nolte vs. Scott Baio

The New York Daily News recently ran a story under the headline "'Grandpa dads' are the latest thing," about the supposed trend for late-life men having kids. They used Nick Nolte, 66, as one example. Nolte had a baby girl this month. Congrats to him.

But to talk about that as being part of a demographic trend, I'm here to tell you t'aint so. Actually, if you use Nolte as an example, there really is no trend for late-life dads having kids, in fact, despite high-profile cases such as Nolte and GOP presidential candidate Fred Thompson (see below) the phenomenon of men over 55 having children in some groups is actually decreasing. If you have to have a celebrity older dad, a better choice for poster boy may be Scott Baio, who at 45 is expecting his first child. (and is, in fact, used to being a poster boy.)

How do I know this? The CDC recently released its latest report on nationwide births, which covers the year 2004. As in previous years, the trend for men having children later in life is continuing. The following figures are based on live births per 1,000 men. The number of births in the 35-39 age group increased from 60.2 to 61.7. Also increasing, but less dramatically, was for the 40-44 age group, which rose from 23.4 to 23.9. Baio's age group, 45-49, also saw a slight increase.

Looking at the larger trend, going back 20 years, in 1984 there were 46 in the 35-39 age group and only 17.8 in the 40-44 group. (all of this is in table 21 of the report)

The CDC lumps everyone over 55 in one age group. That has remained steady for more than ten years, at 0.3 births per 1,000. Sorry, Nick Nolte, there won't be a lot of your same-aged peers pushing strollers down the red carpet. For white males, the number actually dipped for the first time in more than a decade, down to 0.2

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Latest on the Male Biological Clock issue

As a reader pointed out in a post last week, Psychology Today has taken up the male biological clock issue in an article titled A Man's Shelf Life, written by Mark Teich. There's been much written about the risks of later fatherhood in the last year, but this is among the best I've seen and I'm grateful that it was brought to my attention.

Here's the paragraph that sets up the story, what we in the newspaper business refer to as the nutgraf:

Scientists have long known that advanced paternal age (like increased maternal age) played some role in fertility problems and birth defects. Yet because the reports mainly involved children who died before birth or who had extremely rare disorders, no one really rang the alarm. Now, with new studies linking the father's age to relatively frequent, serious conditions like autism, schizophrenia, and Down syndrome, the landscape is shifting.

Here's a good bit of advice I haven't seen in many of the other stories:

For men, the findings may be, above all, a clarion call to take better care of themselves. "This should make men reconsider their role and responsibility in childbearing," says Barbara Willet, of the Best Start childhood resource center in Ontario, Canada. "Aging in men is an important issue, but health is the key issue. It's as if we're suddenly aware that men who want to be fathers need to be healthy, too."

and the related conclusion:

Men can't rewind their biological clocks, but they can slow them down, Fisch agrees. Just remember, once you're in your 40s, you're past your maintenance-free years—you have to take care of yourself. "If you want children from then on," he advises, "get into the best shape of your life."

[Fisch refers to Harry Fisch, director of the Male Reproductive Center at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City and author of The Male Biological Clock.]

While we're on the topic, there's one thing I'd like to point out about my interview with I had a fairly lengthy interview with the reporter, and only a little bit of that was used. That's not a problem, as a reporter I do that to people all the time and I knew going into the interview that it was likely to happen. Plus, you could argue it really wasn't on-topic for a story that was about politics, not genetics.

Anyway, the point I made during our discussion was that the risks of being an older dad may be a recent media phenomenon but it is not a recent scientific phenomenon. The link has been known by geneticists for years. In fact, the advisory on advanced paternal age by the American College of Medical Genetics goes back at least to 1996. You can read that here. So even if it didn't make the story, I felt like it was worth mentioning here.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

More than PTA: Group focuses on dads' skills to help school

Here's an idea I really like.

A group of dads have gotten together at Florence Elementary School in north High Point (just over the Guilford County line from here) to help provide positive male role models for the kids and to give dads a way to pitch in beyond the PTA.

Today I talked to Gregg Schlaudecker, one of the founders of the group. He said the plan is modeled after a similar program at Morehead Elementary, which is also in the Guilford County school system.

Schlaudecker said the organization allows men to help the school using the skills that come with being a father. Members have done things like "lunch buddies," which pairs dads with students who need a positive role model. The group has also helped with the landscaping around the school, doing some of the "heavy lifting" end of beautification, he said. Others have gone into the classroom for career presentations.

It's all about making sure that dads are a visible and positive force in the school, Schlaudecker said. There are about 750 kids there, but the number of male employees could be counted on one hand, he said.

"It feels good getting guys involved at the school," he said.

The group started last year and has about 45 members. Schlaudecker said he's hoping to double that number this weekend - the group is holding a Dads' Club Breakfast Saturday in the school's cafeteria at 8:30 am for interested dads. Principal James McNeil is the keynote speaker. For information, send an e-mail to

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Newly released: "For the Love of Rachel"

Last week I had the pleasure of interviewing David Loewenstein, 47, a psychologist in Florida and author of the new book "For the Love of Rachel."

The book is about the birth of of Loewenstein's daughter, who was born prematurely weighing just 18 ounces, and how that frightful experience changed the life of Loewenstein and his family. Rachel spent the first nine months of her life in the NICU, and there were those who thought she would never make it. Once at home, there were others who doubted that Rachel would ever walk or talk. Now she is doing grade-level work in a traditional middle school.

Through it all, Loewenstein said that Rachel's birth and the adoption of Amy, her 6-year-old sister, has made him a better father than he otherwise might have been, as well as a better psychologist, and a better person overall.

Here's what the Miami Herald said of the book:

Loewenstein tells his moving story of finding love and creating a family -- as well as coming to terms with life's challenges. Loewenstein weaves medical heroics with straight-from-the-heart emotion, giving readers a rare glimpse into the private life of a doctor and his family's brush with the fragility of human life.

I have created some audio files of our interview, or you can listen to the whole interview, which is a little over 30 minutes long.

In this excerpt, Loewenstein talks about Rachel's birth at 23 weeks, and some of the medical problems that resulted from her prematurity. (Running time, 1 minute, 37 seconds)

Loewenstein talks about the emotional challenges of writing the book and some of the lessons he learned from the process. (2:22)

Loewenstein describes himself as a perfectionist who once wanted to have the perfect child. But he's learned that parenting is all about the love you have in your heart. (0:43)

Rachel has taught Loewenstein a different way of measuring success in his children. (2:25)

To hear the full interview, during which Loewenstein talks about his motivation for writing the book, shares stories about his daughters, and passes along what he's learned from his father, click here. (33:40)

To find out more about the book, go here.
PHOTO: David Loewenstein with newborn daughter Rachel and wife Susan. Photo provided by the author.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The road to the White House is paved with freshly changed diapers

I wrote last week about the high number of new dads among the front-runners in the '08 presidential race. is running a story on their front-page on the subject today. I'm quoted near the end. I though the reporter, Susan Donaldson James, had a nice take on the issue. She and I chatted for about 10 minutes yesterday.

Here is a link to the story.