What’s the best age to become a dad?

Is there an ideal age to become a father, or is the answer just “when you have your first child”?

This discussion over at the Guardian has provoked a number of different responses, from anger to confusion. Who is anyone to tell mums when they can and can’t (or should and shouldn’t) become mums? However, there are some medical reasons why becoming a mum later can increase the risk of complications. It’s not the same for dads – so is any age okay?

I became a dad at 40. It wasn’t planned that way, but that was just the way things worked out. Our daughter didn’t arrive until she was ready, and we had to wait around for a few years for her to make an appearance. When she finally came, we were overjoyed.

I’ve met amazing parents who became mums and dads when they were in their early 20s, and others who for whatever reason didn’t have their first child until they were in their 30s or 40s. We all know good and bad examples from our peer group.

I’ll admit, though, that I wasn’t prepared for the sheer physical effort of being a parent. Not at first – it was quite easy to lift a six-pound newborn who was content to lie back or roll around at best. But when she became mobile, I realised that something needed to change. I simply wasn’t in the right physical shape to look after her. And the sleep deprivation: wow, that was really hard for me being a few years older.

Most aspects to it are very positive. Being a bit more mature means you don’t panic quite so much when things go wrong. You’ve lived a lot of your life already, so you’re not worried about missing out on nights out or socialising. You’re less bothered with looking like an idiot in front of others at soft play or baby sensory, so you just muck in. Age doesn’t necessarily bring experience – or maturity! – but it does give you that extra second to pause. Whether you’re a stay-at-home dad or you’re heading out to work. you need to be prepared.

It’s going to be a bit weird having a teenager when I’m in my 50s, but I’m looking forward to it. You never know when you’re ready to be a parent – you just feel right – and you never know when you’re going to be best at it, either. You just have to hit the ground running, be as physically prepared as you can and take on every challenge.

What do you think? Is there an ideal age to be a parent? Did you find being a parent when you were younger was better? Or did you find a bit more life experience was beneficial? What advice would you give to other people as to when to have children? 

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