Posts Tagged ‘fatherhood’

Why age disparity in relationships matter

Monday, February 27th, 2017 | Religion & Politics

On average, men choose to marry women slightly younger than they are. But for would-be dads, this can have a profound impact on family life.

Most people enter relationships with people of a similar age. In western culture this is normal, and indeed doing anything other than this is considered abnormal. However, in different cultures, and at different times, this as not always been the case.

If we look at the 2013 US survey data, we find that a third of heterosexual married couples are within one year of each other. It is not an equal curve on each side though. Women are far more likely to marry older men. In 20% of marriages the man is 2–3 years old, and in 13% 4–5 years older. Compare this to 7% and 3% for women being older.

This makes sense. OK Cupid data, as documented in the book Dataclysm shows that men prefer younger women, and up until the age of 30, women prepare a slightly older man. As many relationships are formed before the age of 30, the older man younger woman setup is likely to have the broader appeal to both parties.

Why is it important, though?

I think it is important because it contributes to the imbalance of women staying at home to look after the children while men continue working. For would-be stay-at-home dads and passionate career women, this is not a desirable situation.

People who are further along in their career earn more money. Nothing controversial there. This means that if you enter into a relationship with someone a few years older than you, on average, they are going to earn more money than you.

When it comes to starting a family, it would be nice to think that childcare could simply be divided as you see fit. However, this is simply not the reality that most of us live in. Many of our decisions are driven by economic factors. That is to say, there are bills to pay and we need to earn enough money to pay them.

Therefore, when it comes to starting a family, many people are faced with the decision of giving up the father’s wage or giving up the mother’s. Unfortunately, for many would-be full-time dads, giving up their own higher wage is not financially viable for the family.

Exactly what can be done about this, I am not sure. You could say that if you want to be a stay-at-home-dad you should marry someone older, or in a more lucrative career than you. However, as most of us know, love does not work that way.

Parenthood and life expectancy

Friday, May 27th, 2016 | Health & Wellbeing


One point of tension for me when becoming a father was the fight between my own needs and that of my family’s. The stress of looking after them and torture of sleep deprivation surely must have a negative impact on my health? How much would I be willing to sacrifice my own wellbeing for theirs?

However, in a speech by Scott Galloway, that I wrote about a few weeks ago, he claimed that being a carer was actually the best thing you could do to prolong your life expectancy. I knew that having a partner and friends was one of the biggest factors in life expectancy. However, he claimed it was the act of giving care that produced the effect. There was no source, so armed with some new hope, I set off to investigate.

Some studies have shown a lower mortality rate in parents than childless adults. However, perhaps it could be that people who want to become parents tend to live longer, regardless of whether they actually have children or not.

In 2012, The Economist wrote about a Danish study that looked at people undergoing IVF. This was key because it controlled for the desire to have children. They found the same result: parents experienced lower mortality rates than childless couples.

Business Insider also wrote about the study noting that men who adopted experienced the same benefit (women experienced some benefit, but not as much as having their own children).

This is all good news. While I am sure the sleepless nights children cause will be very unpleasant, at least there is some comfort that it is actually good for my health.

The Expectant Dad’s Survival Guide

Thursday, May 19th, 2016 | Books

The Expectant Dad’s Survival Guide is a pregnancy book by Rom Kemp.

It cuts a nice channel between the super-factual but not very engaging What To Expect, and the highly engaging but far less informative Fatherhood: The Truth.

It covers the practical stuff that you need, what to expect during labour and the first few months after the birth. As with other books, he has surveyed his friends to back each point up with a range of anecdotes. More interestingly, there is also advice from a midwife (who is also a father himself), The book does a far-better-than-average job of not patronising (no “oh wow, you want to be involved with your baby – but you’re a man!” that is common with pregnancy books).


Fatherhood: The Truth

Saturday, April 23rd, 2016 | Books

Fatherhood: The Truth is a 2004 book by Marcus Berkmann.

Compared to other books I have read, this one is not showing its age too much. It is a world away from the carefully laid out fact-type books. Berkmann writes in rambling prose loosely grouped into chapters. This means that it is difficult to pick out the actual advice and facts from the book, but does make it far more entertaining. In many places, it is laugh-out-loud funny.

True to its word, it is also an honest book. It does go into detail about all the piss, shit and sick you can look forward to in your first year as a parent (and beyond).

And the sleep. Dear god, the sleep. Of anything I have read, this book has given me the most pause for thought as to what we have actually got ourselves into. Still, probably best to keep chipping away at those hopes now so that nothing remains by Christmas.

After all that, it would have been nice for a more positive ending to the book. There was one, but I was feeling pretty depressed by that point. Still, at least it inspired me to start researching babysitters…


She’s Having a Baby – and I’m Having a Breakdown

Sunday, April 3rd, 2016 | Books

She’s Having a Baby – and I’m Having a Breakdown is a 1998 book by James Douglas Barron. You can tell it has been around a while because you have to get a physical copy of it: no ebook or audiobook, just one of those old-fashioned tree-based things.

It was recommended to me by a friend and is designed to offer helpful advice to men.

It certainly has the format right. It is a bullet pointed list of 237 things. That is more than the amount of pages in the book. Each has a heading and a paragraph of text to read, making it very easy to consume. You can pick it up and read a little bit more in a minute, or you can find yourself spending an hour on it, telling yourself you will just read one more entry.

I found it was showing its age. Or perhaps its target demographic. It is clearly written by an involved dad, but feels like it was from a time when that was not the usual situation.

The advice contained in it is useful stuff to know, but I don’t feel like I learned much. Perhaps it helped reinforce what I had already guessed (be nice to your wife, buy a carseat, things will change, etc) and a few things I perhaps didn’t expect, but nothing I felt I would have missed if I had not read the book. It was quite a good laugh though.