Second Family Parenting Self Help Advice

Written by Jennifer Strailey

Fathers successfully creating a second family. Their friends are retiring; they're just starting a family. Why being a dad is better the second time around.second parenting

When Warren Beatty accepted the lifetime achievement award, the world saw a very different side of the one-time legendary bachelor.

Fathers creating a second family reportedly "feel younger." They also see their priorities shift.
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First time fathers may look at their role as "providers". 2nd time fathers see it as more important to spend time with the kids.
Fahters of 2nd families tend to be less driven by testosterone and more driven by a greater sense of family.
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He was sentimental, vulnerable, appreciative; but the softer side he revealed had less to do with the teary-eyed reflections of an older man and everything to do with an expectant father pacing in anticipation on national television.

While a lifetime achievement award may sound like an ending, Beatty was just getting starting in the fatherhood department. And he's not alone. Tough guy Clint Eastwood and entertainer Tony Randall, both in their 70s, became dads.

It's not surprising, really; we've come to expect it from the celebrity set. But the trend is no longer reserved for the men of the silver screen. A growing number of everyday silver-haired men are having children later in life.

The trend, says Martin Carnoy, a Stanford University professor of education and author of the book Fathers of a Certain Age, is due in part to the fact that more college-educated women are postponing child bearing.

These women are more likely to marry a man in his mid-40s or older, and then start a family. While many of these middle-age dads are first-time parents, a good number of them are second-time fathers with grown children from a previous marriage.

It makes for a complicated story. I should know. My father is now rearing two small daughters with his second wife, whose age, as you might have guessed, is dangerously close to my own.

It's complicated, not because my brother and I feel our new sisters have taken our father away from us, or that we're angry our dad remarried a younger woman because we don't feel that way. It's complicated because society tells us it should be.

In reality, dads with children of two generations often enjoy more meaningful relationships with their older children than they would have had they not sired a second family. They also report greater involvement and pleasure in rearing their second families than they experienced as first-time fathers.

Carnoy, who is a dad to two generations of children himself, says the fathers he interviewed for his book claimed other benefits as well, such as feeling younger.They also gained perspective on what's important and what isn't in life, and as a result, spent more time with their young children. "They tended to be less driven by testosterone and more driven by a greater sense of family," says Carnoy. "And they felt good about discovering this side of themselves."

"I think I'm taking being a father more seriously this time only because I have more time to think about it," says my dad, Donald Strailey. When he had my brother and me he was in his 20s, struggling to establish his career as an illustrator. At that time, he thought being a good father meant being a good provider. Getting a second chance at fatherhood has given him a new outlook. "Now my image of a good father is someone who can be there with his kids as much as possible."

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