Explorer Mikael Strandberg

Being an older dad

“Did you know, pappa” , Dana told me the other day when she came back from school: “You are older than most of my friends grandparents.”
“Does that bother you?” I asked her, since Dana is more sensitive than Eva as regards to trends among her friends. And society.
“Not yet” , she answered with her usual stright forwardness. “Because you look like you are much younger.”
“So, if I looked older, you would be embarressed?” I asked her and she nodded back.
Dana is very particular how I look. If I am cleaned shaved, I look too young and not like a dad should look like. So I have always to have a grizzled look, for her to allow me to escort her to school in front of her friends.
On my latest bicycle journey through Turkey with me 10 and 12 year old daughters, Eva and Dana, I spent quite a few late nights, sitting in the dark outside the tent somewhere way off other people, thinking about the advantages if being an older dad.
Honestly, I can only see advantages.
First of all, this is important, I put my daughters in the front of everything in my life. Since I am “old”, I don´t have to prove anything anymore. I have a career, I have an ability to support the girls, I have assembled enough wisdom to take decisive desicions, and I have the right selfconfidence, Meaning, I know who I am without having to tell anyone what I have done and so on.
All in all, that means I can offer lots of love and stability. This is why I have loving, warm and confident daughters. Who spends a lot of time in the wilderness with their dad. And likes it. This may of course, change, but I doubt it. We will see!
I have friends in my age and way younger, who tell me something like this:
“But don´t you have less energy to play with your girls?”
I find that a strange question. Is it the case that bringing up confident and happy kids is down how you play with them? I have never been someone who plays with my kids as such. Boardgames yes, I did take them when they were younger to playparks, but left them most of the time, to figure things out themselves. Whilst I read a book. Instead I take them exploring Turkey on a bike.
Of course you need lots of energy, patience and willpower to bring up energetic kids. And I see other dads in my age, there are a few, and they do look tired many of them. But this is an individual choice. They are certainly not the fittest guys out there. How hard is it to train regularly and eat properly? And sleep properly? You can do all within the limits of being a qualified dad! And if the kids are energetic, take them to the forest. Or to the football training. How hard can it be?
Quite a few people does bring up the question of being an old dad. Even though they know I am fitter, stronger and spend more time with the girls then they do, they say such things like:
“But when girls reach fifty, you are propaply dead. They have lost their dad at a young age.”
This is another odd statement. I lost my dad at 11. Was it a drag? Yes, I miss him now and then. Did it ruin my life if I compare with other people who still have their dad around? Not at all. Life is like that. And there are a lot of dads and mums out there who should have chosen other vocations of life. Than parenthood. And if I would die now, people die all the time, they have their mum. Why on earth does everything be in black and white and so complicated?
Being a good parent is not easy. But if one, simply, just put the kids ahead of most other things in life, there´s a huge chance things will work out well. Young or old parent. Man or woman. And tell your kids every morning that you love them more than anything and that they are the best of the best!
Hey guys and gals, just go out there and live and enjoy life! Don´t think too much about what society considers is right or wrong, what do they really know? As you grow older, you know, not a lot.

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