Dads

Study says old dads are better because...

June 11, 2012 at 2:02 PM ET

Matt Stroshane / Reuters /
Hang on, daddy! New research shows that older dads like Michael Douglas may pass on some genetic advantages to their children.

A new study has found that delaying fatherhood may provide health benefits to a man’s children and grandchildren. Researchers studied telomeres, the tiny biological caps that protect the ends of chromosomes from degrading with disease and aging. When it comes to telomeres, the longer the better. (Just like a man to assume that something’s better just because it’s longer, but this is science!)

While women’s aging eggs are more likely to cause problems for their offspring than boost health and longevity, sperm apparently get better with age. In most cell types, telomeres get shorter over time, but in sperm they lengthen. Therefore, men who father children later in life pass on longer telomeres than men who reproduce earlier. And this one genetic gift can pay off for generations.

Delaying fatherhood is good for children? I predict this will make many men smile — while they’re double-checking the birth control.

In addition to protecting against future cell degeneration, late arrival dads enjoy other distinct benefits throughout the active parenting years.

10 perks of delaying fatherhood: 

  1. The loss of smell that occurs naturally with age comes in handy at the diaper changing table.
  2. Also, fathers who wait long enough to have kids can share their diapers.
  3. Bouncing baby on Daddy’s knee? Even better if that knee is brand new! And titanium.
  4. Older fathers are more patient.
  5. Older fathers are less patient, but have amassed more wealth, which can be used to pay for nannies, vacations, and good Scotch.
  6. Delaying fatherhood makes it easier to decide which parent stays home — the one collecting Social Security.
  7. Meal preparation is simplified when father and son both eat pureed foods and nutrient-enriched beverages.
  8. The worse Dad’s hearing, the less he is bothered by the sound of a toddler’s whine or the grating noise that is dubstep.
  9. Slight dementia is an advantage while playing Chutes and Ladders, hide and seek, and Wii bowling.
  10. Instead of worrying about their college kids on spring break in Florida, older fathers can keep an eye on them. Because they live there.

Science may help us understand biological advantages, but are those really so valuable? The best gift a man can bestow on his children and their children is the experience of his years, and we don’t need any studies to prove that wisdom develops with age. As we celebrate fathers young and old, let us commend them for their unique offerings — regardless of the length of their telomeres.

Lela Davidson is the author of Blacklisted from the PTA. Her writing is featured regularly in family and parenting magazines throughout the United States and Canada. She blogs about marriage, motherhood, and life-after-40 at After the Bubbly.

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