The guys who should be writing this blog

I just finished reading Fathers of a Certain Age by Martin Carnoy and David Carnoy (a father and son). These are the guys who should be writing the Recycled Dad blog. Their book is an amazingly thorough and insightful treatment of the phenomenon I have been trying to address here.

If you have fathered children after age 40 (or are considering doing so), buy Fathers of a Certain Age and actually read it.

Subtitled “The Joys and Problems of Middle-aged Fatherhood,” the book really focuses on recycled dads — men who have fathered multiple generations of children. It explores why men decide to re-enter the parenting cycle at an advanced age and the impacts of their decisions on their “first children,” their wives and their younger children.

This book is full of solid research and well-argued analysis but stays grounded in humanity, thanks to an abundance of stories and quotes from fathers, mothers and first- and second-generation children. These stories are quite candid and often very touching. Not all of them have happy endings. The authors share their own experiences, too — at the beginning, to explain their motivations and their connections to the topic, and at the end, to make the point that they did not agree with each other 100 percent in their observations or conclusions while writing the book.

I had many ‘aha’ moments while reading this book — in the ‘researchy’ parts as well as the personal stories. I found plausible explanations for what I am doing and experiencing as a recycled dad, and some important insights about how my wife, my older sons and my preschool-age son must feel about the life we all have together. This book will help you better understand yourself and the people you care about.

The authors seem well qualified to tackle this topic, not only by virtue of their family circumstances but also by virtue of their professions. Martin is a Stanford professor and has authored other books; David is a professional writer and editor. At the time Fathers was published (first edition 1994), David and his brother were in their late 20s, and Martin’s daughter (from his second marriage) was 3 years old.

The balance of thorough analysis and a strikingly human perspective makes Fathers a very engaging read. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

I’m also anxious to make contact with the authors and find out (if they are willing to share) what has changed for them in the past 15 years. Stay tuned!

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