Hard work, discipline, resourcefulness and mental focus are just a few of the many values that the Baby Boomer generation have grown up with. But they did pass on those values onto to their children? What are Baby Boomers like as parents? How are they as grandparents?
These days there are Baby Boomers who are having children later in life and the statistics continue onto to its upward trajectory. What is it like raising children in their 50’s or 60s’ compared to raising them in their 20’s, 30’s or 40’s?
These are some of the questions that the fabulous Booms Day Prepping panelists are going to discuss on this podcast. In this episode, the panelists are joined by a special guest Chris Curnow, a good friend of co-host Dr. Drew Dwyer, who at the age 59 have kids under the age of 7.
Wayne Bucklar: Time for Booms Day Prepping where we have a look at what the Baby Boomers are doing, should be doing, ought to be doing, could be doing to get ready for that next stage in our lives. Yearning and learning, Baby Boomers have reached that point in their lives where we still feel like we were 19 except when we get out of bed early in the morning. So welcome to the show Brian Hinselwood, Bron Williams and Amanda Lambros, our regular panelists. We also have with us a special guest that I’ll let Drew introduce in just a moment, my co-host as always is Dr. Drew Dwyer, our resident gerontologist and principal wine drinker. Drew, welcome to the show and can you lead us off with introducing Chris?
Dr. Drew Dwyer: Yes, good morning everyone or for this morning for me, I don’t know where the rest of the world is today but welcome to the show. Hello panel, I hope everyone is well. Today, our podcast, this discussion is a bit of a broad subject but we’ll refine it a bit and that’s having children as a Baby Boomer, raising children as a Baby Boomer or are you grandparent Boomers who are now finding yourself full-time raising children. And I want to discuss how this sits what your feelings are on it, what are your experiences. So particularly, I have a good friend who I’ll introduce to you now and that’s Mr. Chris Curnow. Chris is a good friend of mine, I’ve known him my whole life. I am more or less used to live my single manhood through Chris there for a long period of time until at the age of 50, he met a lovely girl. They fell in love and they fell pregnant. And now at the age of 58, he’s about to have another child and he’s got three boys all in that period now and having another boy. And I often sit and have a wine with him and we discuss the fact that when this next child is due on his 21st, he will be 78 or 79. So how’s that going to look? So I welcome to the panel Chris and as we have our discussion, I’ll let Chris introduce himself and he can open the floor by telling us how much he enjoys and loves being a late booming father. Chris?
Chris Curnow: Good day everybody. Look, it’s not as bad as it sounds.
Brian Hinselwood: That’s rude because it sounds awful.
Chris: I’m definitely a late bloomer, there’s no doubt about that but there’s no holding me back.
Bron Williams: Obviously.
Dr. Drew: Yes, that’s the point, those are the things that we’ll raise today. We’ve got Chris who is a late-blooming father and a Baby Boomer. And of course, the rest of us who’ve raised our children or my children, I had the blake but they are young adults and adults. And of course, the other panelists, their children are well into their late adults with probably giving you grandchildren. And I know for myself and my own family, I’m watching my some of my siblings who I have many as probably a couple of them are more or else raising their grandchildren for their own children through different circumstances. And of course, when you do the research on this, what you find out is very particularly that there’s a couple of interesting demographics – one, more women over 50 are having babies by choice and more Baby Boomer aged people or grandparents are finding themselves just about now full-time raising their own grandchildren. And this can be very rewarding but also challenging and physically demanding and emotionally draining. And questions older people and Boomers to have the ability to cope and to see the future and how much longest journey is going to take because they’ve already lived the experience of raising children into adulthood, now they find themselves back there doing it again for whatever circumstances. But when you look at the statistics, it is becoming more frequent, it is becoming less supported by first world governments on the way of how do we financially afford or when grandparents are asking for assistance to raise the grandchildren because their child or the child’s mother and father cannot. And then of course, you have the statistics raising where older people and funnily enough, when I look at some of the statistics here, older men over 54 becoming new dads with younger women which is an interesting statistic to look at. And so I would like to open up with our females on the panel to ask how as women at your age and where you sit, Bron at 60 years of age, do you reckon you could one, have a new child because physically it’s probably possible more than likely if you are fit and healthy? Or two, would you step in, raise and take over the raising of your grandchildren or what do you see your role as a grandmother is?
Bron: Okay, well that’s the number of different questions. Number one, no it’s no longer physically possible for me to have a child. I’m 62, had a hysterectomy at 52, so 10 years of not being able to do that and I don’t miss that because I certainly got to a point in my 50s where I thought I am done with the children bit. It’s like an emotional thing that goes along with the hormonal I think where you actually go, “I just can’t do this anymore, I really don’t want to this anymore.” So that’s the first thing. I became a grandmother at 48 but my eldest granddaughter is going to be 14. So that puts Chris and I at a very, very different point in our lives. So by the time my eldest granddaughter is 21, I’m going to be in my 70s or actually 69, oh holy Dooley, so that’s only a few years away. So that puts that in a different category, it’s interesting as you were talking Drew because I was thinking what would happen if something happened to both say the two partners in the two marriages of my children. Both of my eldest son have three children and the thought of taking back into raising three children again is huge. Will I do it? Absolutely because they’re my grandchildren. Would that be a choice I would want to make if I had a choice? No, because I am that much older, I think I’m wiser so I think I’d probably bring through different things to the whole situation. But if not, would be something I wouldn’t do by choice but most grandparent, it’s not actually a choice that they make, it’s a choice that’s thrust on them. Drew, have I answered all three questions?
Dr. Drew: Thanks, yes you have. I will reflect back to Chris now who more or less didn’t get a choice, he doesn’t have a choice and that’s his choices where he’s made and where he is.
Chris: Yes, it was more of choice, the removal of choice. Yes, it was a little bit of a surprise at 49 when she got pregnant. She’s about 13 years younger than me and she certainly wanted to have children but it wasn’t exactly desperate about it. But yes, so it was a surprise when we found out we were pregnant but it was certainly a conscious decision to then move forward from there and I’m very very glad that we did. They certainly bring an enormous amount of joy to our lives. Obviously, I certainly had to really address the situation whether I was going to be able to put together enough money so that I will be able to financially cope for probably 10 or 15 years at least after I retire. And in that, not just survive but to provide the standard of living and the quality of education.
Dr. Drew: It’s not cheap raising kids, there’s an expense in every part of your life.
Chris: Yes, exactly right. It is a fantastic thing and I’m certainly glad that I did dive in.
Dr. Drew: Amanda as a sexologist, do you have any statistics? Do you commonly see this scenario, older Boomers, people in 50s or 60s, having children as their own? Sexual health or sexual life and raising the family but yet being much older? And is it something that you think from a sexologist point of view and looking at that healthy part of their sexuality in counseling, is it a good thing for them or do you see a little bit more challenge from people in this space?
Amanda Lambros: I think one of the things regardless of what age they are when they have their children, there’s always going to be a sexual component to it. So I think a lot of people fail to realize how much their sex life gets put on hold when they have children. You kind of think, “Oh, well it’s the child crying in a bed” or here are a toddler who’s walking around but it puts a damper on your sex life regardless of what age you’re at. I think the next thing that you need to consider is that when you are above a certain age and your hormones start to wax and wane and you go through menopause or things like that, your hormones are kind of completely out of whack for both the men and the women. And so it’s understanding what’s happening with your sex drive, being able to communicate about your sex drive in a better way, it’s probably a really good and important thing so having an open and honest conversations with your partner.
Dr. Drew: For a woman who’s older Amanda, surely there’s going to be a depletion of hormones, a depletion of energy at a much faster rate, you’re looking at?
Amanda: Than men. Women, deplete their hormones at a much faster rate than men so that’s also something to consider as well. So the man might be sitting back going, “What is going on with my wife, it must just be the kids?” When in reality it’s not, it’s the hormones as well. So it’s always worthwhile going to see your local GP, having a conversation with a mental health professional, deciding like how to actually proceed because sometimes, people are just aren’t skilled at coping with those things.
Dr. Drew: One of the issues that I look at when I do some research around this subject is how the Baby Boomer parent or grandparent reflects back quickly on how, once they use the term “easy” but they do use it in the research. How easy or less complicated their lives were when they were younger, young parents or being raised themselves if they haven’t had children before? And firmly believe, ‘Yes, this raising children thing will be easy.” And then of course, it comes, it happens, the stress begins or perhaps, it is easy. So I’ll ask Brian to tell us do you think raising children Brian at your age at 70 would be easy if you had to raise your grandchildren? Do you think it would be a real major clashing issue for you?
Brian: Look, I have grandchildren and I love them dearly. Having said that, I only see them about twice a year. So it’s very easy to love somebody from a distance and that’s because they live a thousand kilometers away from where I live. And look, if I had to raise the grandchildren, I would do it. Certainly my wife would probably love to do it because she adores her grandchildren. Do I want to? No, I don’t. I don’t know that that it’s any more tiring as you get older, apart from what we talk about that as get older you’d probably get a little less energy than you might have had at 30, 40, 50, whatever. But I think it’s just knowing what to do with them, I mean I’ve grown out, both my children are adults, they’re both in their late 30s going on 40. So you get out of the habit of dealing with children per se and I know if we ever have a party and somebody brings the kids along with them, “Oh my God, what are we gonna do with the kids?” So it would be the same with the grandchildren. It’s not something that I look forward to doing at all.
Dr. Drew: And that’s commonly said Brian, I can assure you. I have a question, do you think being older and wiser in this context of being older and wiser I mean we often ask ourselves, “I wish I knew back then what I knew now.” So do you think if you are in the position like Chris, I’m interested in Chris’s answer, do you think it’s easier? Do you feel more confident because you’re older and more experienced that if life throws, let’s go. If life throws a shit stick at you and you’re an older parent with much more lived experience, you think you’re going to cope better than say a millennial parent will?
Chris: Yes. I think I definitely cope better than Millennials. To be honest, I don’t think I never felt old enough to be a parent until it actually happened to me. It certainly, it helps my lived experience.
Dr. Drew: Our wives will tell us, “We don’t grow up until we’re 50.”
Chris: Absolutely, I almost certainly concur with that. So yes, it certainly brings a different perspective on things. I mean I’ve lived a very full life in many ways, I’ve lived it in reverse I suppose. I had all the good times when I was younger and now I have the responsibility older. And so for me, it’s just perfectly normal but it certainly had experienced of having deployed as a soldier and all of that sort of stuff really gives me a good understanding of the world and how it works and hopefully, it’s one of the benefits that I will be able to pass on to my children.
Amanda: I also would like to touch on something that Brian has said and I think it’s really important especially for our Boomer listeners is that even though he would not want to raise his grandchildren, he actually would and what I find in my private practice, that’s exactly the clients that I get. I get a lot of people who are grandparents who are raising their grandkids almost as a necessity even though they don’t want to because they’d be like, “I’ve done my job, I’ve move on.” But they’re not going to say no in raising their grandchildren.
Dr. Drew: Yes. Amanda, I will add to this. Reading some of the statistics in the Millennial parenting space, these are millennial parents or young parents of normal children, what you would consider the normal age of raising children. When they’ve surveyed them, they have an understanding and an expectation that their parents will be there to cover all voids and take up all gaps and they have an expectation and they firmly believe that the grandparent’s responsibility to take up that load and in there because they were raised a particular way as Millennials and socially cultured, they have a firm belief throughout the surveys that the grandparents should take that majority of the parenting role so the Millennials can get a crack on with getting a job and paying their mortgage and getting their life.
Brian: One of the things for me Chris, for everybody, is when I was young, one set of grandparents died when I was very, very young. So I never really knew them, the other set of my grandmother, my father’s mother lived to quite an old age but we never had much to do with her. And I often think that children miss out not spending time with their grandparents because grandparents by nature have a little bit more time to give, have a little bit more experience, have a little bit more knowledge and I think a lot of kids in the first world miss out on that because we don’t have this extended family that maybe they do in Asian countries or African countries and I think that’s changed.
Dr. Drew: Well I could just say for, I will add this to Chris. Chris also lives or has his mother-in-law, the grandparents of his children living with them in a split house. So there’s extra things for Chris, the children around the grandparent. Chris has to live around the parent and is that a stress Chris being in your late 50s and trying to manage raising a young family and also having elderly parents around as well?
Chris: Look, it’s challenging at times. But if anything, I’m able to deal in a much more frank and direct way with any issues that arise with my mother-in-law probably much more so than you would be if there was a more considerable age difference with mutually understood level of acceptance. It is a fantastic thing though for the children though having her around. So as in pain as I am, they might love her a bit and it is certainly a very different relationship that she has with them.
Amanda: And that’s just something that’s a little more common than most would actually think, in counseling we call it, “Top and Tail.” So you have the kids and then you have the parents that you’re both kind of being caregivers to both and Chris like this is the situation you’re in and I think oftentimes, people think that this isn’t a common situation when in reality, it actually is. And what I find more often than not especially with my clientele is that the more culturally diverse they are, the more likely they are to have the Top and Tail situation.
Bron: I thought it’s really interesting to Drew that you’ve talked about Millennials and their expectations because that’s certainly been my experience with my sons and as I’ve talked with other women in my age group regardless of whether they have sons or daughters, there’s this expectation that they will as you say fill up the gaps. And certainly with one son, had quite difficult conversations because he’s expected things of me that I had no idea he was expecting but because I didn’t live up to those expectations, then I was being a terrible mother and I’m thinking, “Am I? I can only be the mother that I can be,” we’ve certainly sorted our way through that but those expectations that were there that I certainly don’t have with my mum and I certainly didn’t expect that my children would have with me.
Dr. Drew: Bron, do we think as a difference, I look at some of the epidemiology around it and particularly because of counseling and probably like you Amanda, we look at removal of barriers. So the barriers that are listed. I’ll list out some of the barriers that some of the older Boomer parents say there are a modern challenge and that is believe it or not, the first one on the top of the list is preparing meals and getting the meals right. And another one is feeding into the social norms of the children and the age cohort of the other kids’ parents. Won’t you comment on that, will leave Chris last because he is the expert. But what do you think would be the most challenging thing to raise child now that you’re a Baby Boomer? Brian?
Brian: Look, I agree with both of those points you’ve brought up Drew. I think the way we eat, the time of day that we eat, we tend with dinner quite late in the evening. Now children obviously need to be fed at a much earlier time depending on the age of the child of course. But if you got young children as I have, it’s not like sort of saying, “No, we’re not gonna be able to make it at dinner at 7 because they need to eat at 5:30 or whatever it is.” So that would be a major problem. Also, I have to admit both my grandchildren are very, very good at eating a vast brain for food. But if you were making something, I don’t know or curry something, you have to make one lot for the child, one lot for you because honestly, you would not expect the young child to eat something that I would eat. That would be a major problem, food. And you’re quite right, if I have to take the grandchildren to play at school or whatever is mixing in with the parents who are generally speaking going to be late 20s, early 30s. I doubt that I’d have a huge amount in common with them except the child, so it would be a problem.
Dr. Drew: Chris, do you find these points significant for you?
Chris: Yes, absolutely. Certainly, there’s been a time or two where people have assumed that I am the child’s grandparents rather than parent. It happened at a party we were at actually.
Dr. Drew: Yes, I think it might. It dents the male ego a little bit I think, does it Chris?
Chris: Only slightly.
Dr. Drew: “Look at the grandfather looking after his grandson.” “No, that would be my son.” There’s a particular woman who writes about this, she’s a lawyer and she’s over 50s and she had her first baby when she was over 50. So a lawyer, she writes particularly about having children over 50 as an over 50 year old woman. She says that most significant things she notices is the raising of eyebrows because she made a choice to have children so late in life and she finds that that’s the most confronting thing around other women and other parents that it’s okay for the older man, it’s almost like a status symbol, “And good on you mate, the sperms are still working and blah, blah, blah.” He’s a stud, a stallion and of course, we all puff our chests out and think of course because a man never loses his sperm count, a woman will lose her eggs and men can actually reproduce right through their lifespan. But she says very confrontingly on many many, many occasions, what she notices most is other women and people raising their eyebrows because she made a conscious choice to have child or to have children in her 50s. And from the women on the panel, would you be struck by this conversation? How would you feel? How do you feel about older women taking the challenge, making the decision?
Bron: I suppose it would depend on how well I knew the person. I’ve got a good friend who didn’t marry until she was 40, has had endometriosis most of her life. And then three rounds of IVF with no luck and then fell pregnant at 42 and then has fallen pregnant again within 14 months. So for her, there was no choice obviously and I didn’t actually ever expect to. So I know that’s 10 years different. I don’t exactly know to be perfectly honest, how I would feel. I hope I’m open enough and generous enough with people to not make judgments around their choices. If they are healthy and they can give a child all that it needs, go for it. It would not be my choice, but I’m not them.
Dr. Drew: Amanda?
Amanda: I think I’m right there with you Bron. I honestly have no clue how I would be able to raise kids like even past 45. As you guys and most of our listeners know is my children are still quite young but I’m young as well and I just feel like they just wear me out completely and I don’t know if it’s because I have boys instead of girls. But when I look at older women who are doing it, I’m like “More power to you, I have no clue where you get your energy from but well done.”
Dr. Drew: Chris your wife’s 45 and that’s still getting up there in age for a modern woman to be having children and you’ve got all boys. Do you notice a difference between you and her, any wear and tear on her emotionally and physically against what you’re experiencing as an older husband?
Chris: Well look, I think that tiny difference does make quite a bit of difference. She’s fairly active and and fantastic with the boys. But certainly at the moment where she’s 8 months pregnant, it’s slowing her down a bit. But really, thank God for iPads is all I can say really.
Dr. Drew: The modern babysitter?
Chris: You need to use technology to leverage parenting.
Dr. Drew: Let me ask Chris, is that an issue because I watch your kids, I love them dearly of course and your boys from a very young age have picked up a computer and an iPad and of course, Chris works in IT everyone so he’s quite tech-savvy. But they have adapted to this technology, your family has used this technology very quickly and rapidly to intermingle your life, your process, your kids’ learning, their art, their music, everything else. And I watched Chris’ kids even the little tiniest one at the moment, little boy, they can pick up those devices, they can search the internet, go to Google, go to YouTube when they want, ask questions with their dad. The dad has sorted them out with a few internet issues, off they go and you think, “Is this because you’re raising these millennial children as a Boomer parent?” And of course, you are IT savvy, this is going to be a normal space for a modern parenting even if you’re old. You’re gonna have to learn that technology space if you’re a Boomer, yes?
Chris: Absolutely, I mean they are completely digital natives. The seven-year-old is in year three at school and it’s a very technological school, every child in his class has an iPad. Most of them have their own and some are school provided. They have access to an enormous amount of apps that teach them incredible things in a very entertaining way. Really, even being a fairly IT savvy myself, I’ve got to really consciously make an effort to keep up with them at this point. However, it is of great benefit but it can take some of the pressure off at home as well with them being able to amuse themselves and learn in different ways as well.
Brian: Chris and Drew, in fact everybody, I have a little bit of a problem with this having grown up in an age when obviously technology was almost in its infancy. My grandchildren play on iPads and whatever it is they play on and the television is always on. And I really get annoyed because they’re not out and I know now they don’t like the kids going out into the street playing hopscotch, or cricket or whatever it is they’re playing. But I do get worried, my grandchildren Chris are a lot younger than certainly your eldest boy. And I just get worried that they’re not out doing things, being creative. Is that a problem with kids today?
Chris: Well, absolutely. It’s a balance that it is increasingly difficult to strike and it’s certainly not just because I’m an older parent, this is something that all the parents are having problems with and that balance of technology is a very important thing to maintain.
Dr. Drew: I mean of course, we were always out until the street lights came on as kids with a bike and a skateboard. And of course, that’s you went out and intermingled and survived amongst the bullying and the harassment and whatever else, we did that. I think we try to avoid our children getting into contact. But in relationship to the internet Chris, there’s a lot of risks for children and if parents aren’t tuned into these risks on the internet, there are cyberbullying issues, there’s pedophilia issues, child sex, incest, all sorts of dangerous gateways that open up to children here if the parents aren’t building a security mechanism. What’s your advice? What do you do to secure the kids away? Do you educate them? Do you just block them?
Chris: Look, a bit of both. Certainly, you need to educate them and you need to have processes in place for monitoring things. A lot of the tech companies, Apple now have family accounts where it’s much easier to control things and monitor what’s going on with each of the kids. But certainly, it is a big worry because there’s an enormous amount of bad stuff on there that you just can’t block even with your best efforts. Certainly, the setup they have at the school is excellent for only allowing kids onto the approved sites but they are always going to be able to get access to these things. And just a couple of days ago, my oldest one got upset on that’s something that he happened upon and certainly, you need to explain to them that there are people out there with evil intent and there is a lot of inappropriate content out there and they need to be able to identify it and move away from it. And certainly, feel free to come and discuss things if they are having an issue.
Dr. Drew: I feel the same way. I mean I know Chris, we’ve raised, we’ve been together family-wise for a long time but my children are 20 and 15 of course. I look at my son and my daughter was the same but we fiercely educated them in the rules, and the concepts and what they were doing. We set strong rules, and parent or guidance around there when they started social media – Facebook, Instagram and so forth. But I can honestly say, even in my 15 year old boy who I know is looking at some porn, but he up until now particular, anything untowards come to him, popped up on the screen, he wasn’t too sure about. He simply knew the difference between right and wrong, good and bad and he came to us every time to ask us what it was, what should he do? What’s the process that he does? And he felt uncomfortable stumbling upon it or having it sent to him and in particular, he feels uncomfortable when his mates at school show or pop up some bad stuff and he will come and ask me, “Should they be looking at that dad? Is it alright for me to look at that? What’s the go, what the hell?” as he would say. And I think it’s a great place to have your kids to keep communicating with your parents and older parents to Boomer parents, stay in this communication space because this is how young people and society are communicating. What your thoughts on that?
Wayne: I wonder if we could just live back a little to Chris as a parent with three kids under 7 at the age of 59 before we become the technology show. I wonder if it’s different being an older parent and the issues of technology and children then for being a younger parent. Is it different or is it just age irrelevant in this case?
Chris: Look I think it would be difficult for many parents at our age who are certainly not as tech savvy. It would be very, very easy for a significant gap in knowledge to open up between them and the children and the children effectively be able to do whatever they want online know, know how to cover it up and know how to get into mischief. So it certainly is a significant challenge.
Dr. Drew: Do you think younger parents care about it Chris?
Chris: Look, the ones that I have contact with do. They may not necessarily fully understand what they need to do to try and mitigate things and to try and control access in their house. But the primary thing is being the person in control of the Wi-Fi password, turns you into some level of a god in your house. You need to be able to threaten people, saying “I find you’re doing inappropriate things, I will shut you down.”
Dr. Drew: Yes I will take you off the grid.
Amanda: But I think you touched on something important there is that Chris has this knowledge. So Chris is knowledgeable in this area where I think a lot of Boomers are not as knowledgeable as they could be in especially with regards to digital technology and what kids are doing online and stuff like that. And so I think it would be a little more difficult for other Boomer parents or grandparents who are raising their grandkids to manage the technology around that and understand, what are they doing, why aren’t they doing certain things and stuff like that. So I think it just adds another level of the dimension of why older parents and Boomers have to actually manage.
Dr. Drew: I reckon, it could be easy being an older person to say, “What the hell? I’m not interested. Leave it to the young ones.” Or it could also be a split challenge to go, “I don’t understand, I don’t want them to see me as old and stupid but I’ll just let them do what they want to do and keep it all kosher.” I mean if I was a little bit older, I’ll be thinking that fear is, “I don’t understand, I don’t want to have show bad face so I’ll let it slip and let them do.” I might ask some other parents and see if they can help me out to get some knowledge. But you would be stuck in a rock and a hard place of, “I am too old, I shouldn’t know or I don’t care” because I know I talk to a lot of Boomers and just go, “No, social media. Don’t do it, not on Facebook, I don’t communicate in the internet.” And we’ve had these discussions.
Wayne: That’s an extraordinary statistic I think Drew given that pick your age, Baby Boomer, pick your mid 60s person, they’re the fastest-growing group of internet users and have been for 20 years, they are all looking after superannuation online. No one buys a cruise these days without doing it online. They’re I think much more savvy than you’re stereotyping them as.
Dr. Drew: I was talking in context of being savvy when it comes to what the kids are doing.
Wayne: Well I think they’ve discovered porn quite early themselves. My dad at age 75 on his first computer searched for “cheeky ladies” as his first ever search and he would now be 94 so it’s a good while ago. So I think Boomers have adopted it, maybe the late cohorts that are really older or the early cohort, the older Boomers, it hasn’t been as much a part of their working life. But remember, the internet has been around now going on 30 years and for someone who’s now 65 that means I’ve had it since our 35. Well, we invented pretty much everything Drew I think for the world as it is. But I am really interested Chris in whether you’ve had criticism for having children older, whether you worry about being criticized, what are the consequences that you feel that you can talk to us about as a first-hand witness here?
Chris: Certainly, I have had some criticism from some people and it’s fair enough. I mean it is one of the significant concerns that I have that ultimately at some point, I will die when my children are relatively young. Hopefully they will be at least in the early 20s or something. But I am the age now that my partner’s father was when he died suddenly of a heart attack and she was I think 20 at the time. But bad things can happen to good people and I do worry about the amount of time that I will have to spend with my children and potentially the effect it will we have on them if I do die at some point when they are relatively young. Uptake, if I didn’t have them like, then they wouldn’t exist at all so they still would worship me.
Dr. Drew: That’s right. And Chris, I’m gonna ask on top of that question, do the kids notice your age difference to other parents and do they comment?
Amanda: So what I think here is important is that Chris’s kids are still relatively young. So in reality, they don’t know any different than “Chris is dad.” So they’re like, “Well, Chris is dad. So this is the age that dads are,” and I think they’ll start noticing that Chris is a different age to other parents once they’re like teenage years.
Dr. Drew: When age becomes a factor.
Amanda: Exactly, that’s when they go to other people’s houses, they see other parents and they might go, “Oh okay, my dad is definitely a little bit older than yours.” But I think there’s so many age variances and differences between people nowadays having kids that it might actually kind of be a norm.
Chris: It is becoming a fairly normal thing and there are an enormous number of women who are having children in their 40s. And so I think the world has changed in many ways and mostly I think people are a bit less judgmental about that stuff these days.
Amanda: And I think one of the things like I did like a little pool at my school of like I spoke to the moms before I knew I was coming on here. And the youngest mom, so we have kids who are currently 7 and 9 and so in the 9 year olds class the youngest mom is 25 and the oldest mom is 56. We’re all like very great friends, we’re very close, we hang out regularly together and I thought, I didn’t even realize the age difference, obviously the 25 year old looks really young compared to some of the other ones. But yes, it’s a huge range for just my one son’s class.
Dr. Drew: Is she the one you all throw arrows at Amanda?
Dr. Drew: Chris, I got a question for you. In the realm of disciplining children in a modern day because Millennial parents, young modern families do it very differently. And do you think as older parents and Boomers that the culture and the way you were raised with your beautiful parents who I know – it this a consideration to when it comes to discipline saying, “No.” Because young kids will push that very quickly these days and probably more so than we push back those children. So explain it now when experience that when there’s discipline needed or a role needs to be taken, does your wife play good-cop bad-cop, what do you do?
Chris: Oh yes, I’m always the bad cop. In many ways, it’s a lot like hurting young soldiers. So you just have to set the parameters and enforce the rules and then everyone exists within them. So the discipline side of it is not something that I have any problem with and in fact I think that’s probably one of the benefits of being an older parent and I’m able to explain to them when they say “why” – I’ve usually got an answer for it. It’s not just because that’s what I said and sometimes you need that. But I think the age helps in many ways.
Brian: Chris, can I ask you a question? When I was a kid, all the time that I got into trouble, mom would always say, “Wait until your dad gets home.” Whenever dad comes home, she never told him. Before dad getting home, or what that might do, dad never did anything. No, I don’t mean that in a negative sense, he hit me once in my life. I was about 15 years old so I could stand up to him – but I couldn’t.
Dr. Drew: He was being used as a warning.
Brian: Yes. So he became this frightening thing of “Oh no da’s coming home.” I just did whatever I just did. Does that still happen?
Wayne: Can I just make a comment about living in Asia where I do and where older men and younger wives and very young children are a very common sight particularly in mixed-race marriages. And the push back from child welfare groups about the consequences of having children at an old age, what level of responsibility parents should take for raising those children. So my question is how old is too old?
Amanda: Good question Wayne.
Chris: Fifty eight.
Wayne: I would have said 24 Chris, that’s when I had mine. But I accept that no one’s ever old enough to have children but how old is too old?
Chris: I think I’m right on the upper limits. But yes, I’m not sure that it’s ultimately would be a good thing. As you say, I think it probably add as more in another 5 or 10 years on from where I am.
Dr. Drew: Did everybody notice that Italian woman, that’s she’s 69 or 70 that she caused an international raucous and major discourse around particularly people talking about how old is too old. And yet I couldn’t imagine being 69 and wanting to be pregnant or being pregnant, and then now trying to raise a child. Is it unfair to the child?
Bron: So I think it’s unfair to the child if there’s no support around them. If you’re on your own and you’re trying to raise this child and you’re older and potentially dying and being ill and those things. But I think we make things judgments about other people’s lives but it’s actually really not fear nor right to do so because all of us live life as it happens and the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray. I have 4 years and 7 years between my sons, that was not my choice that’s just when babies arrived in my family. I was 38 when I had my youngest son and we decided not to have a fourth child although I wanted one because I was thinking I was going to be 45 by the time I had that fourth child. I don’t actually think we should sit in judgment about who’s too old, who’s too young because that girl that Amanda was saying who’s got a 9 year old and she’s 25 – she was 16, the same judgments are being placed on young people. Like my son, he’s got married at 19 and 20 and had their children within the first 18 months of their family, of getting married. Like it’s up to the people, you make your choices, you work with the consequences.
Wayne: You know I can’t agree with that Bron. If this was the internet, I’d be saying, “Now, that was just clickbait, I should resist it but I can’t.”
Bron: I’ve never had that clickbait.
Wayne: Well, there you are.
Amanda: Lucky you Bron.
Brian: And Drew, can I just say that the 69 year old Italian woman. At least she has cut out the worry about grandparents.
Dr. Drew: Oh that’s right.
Wayne: And my argument Bron is that we have shared myths and stories that are what we call culture and out of those cultures emerges government and regulation and much like a parent who chooses not to educate their child, we as a society have taken that right away from them. Increasingly we’re taking away the right not to vaccinate your children. We have absolute issues around parenting and gay couples these days, we have issues around single parents and early pregnancies. If you get pregnant at 14, it’s illegal unless of course it was a divine pregnancy. So there is a role I think for society to talk about this and I think the question of what’s too old is really a valid question that as a group of people who are commentators on society we ought to be saying, “This is what we think,” because I really think it’s an issue for people.
Dr. Drew: I agree Wayne on some of those points. I don’t know whether it’s more people having a more influence from conservatism. But I often in counseling or talking and researching this subject, I do have a great emotional attachment or a feeling of empathy, a very empathic feeling for the grandparents that have got no choice in life that they have to take on the children in the house. I’ve got friends at the moment, they just took on 6 because the daughter and the son are both heroin addicts and methadone problems. But to protect the children and stop the children going into care, they took the children into the house amd these people are just in their 60s and they’ve now got 6 children in their house. Their grandchildren, again they said they would never let anyone else take them but my heart goes to them every time. And my wife is always conscious, she sends some clothes when she finds them in booties and secondhand stuff because we think how difficult is that for them to be raising 6 children now in their 60s not through their choice but through the love and sacrifice they’ll make to their grandchildren.
Wayne: And we are running out of time but just before we get our last thoughts, we should another day address the issue of care because I think as Baby Boomers, we have a particular viewpoint about how care for children and orphanages and children’s homes. We have a particular view about that given our lived experiences at our age that may be quite different for the younger generations, I’m not sure. Now ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to move on. It’s nearly time for us to go so can we have last thoughts please?
Brian: Alright, my last thought is that as we’ve just demonstrated, there’s obviously no easy answer to this question. Our grandchildren, I think most grandparents would as in the example that Drew has just mentioned would take their grandchildren at the drop of the hat, they probably equally don’t want to. So it’s just one of those things, it’s an animal thing, you look after the youngest and the weakest.
Wayne: Or you eat them, still going on.
Brian: Well, that will ruin that.
Bron: I think I’m totally on the same page as Brian. Love my grandchildren, I don’t see them regularly because they are in a separate state to me. But yes, if something happened, I would step in straight away. It would not be my choice, if I had my ‘rathers’ but definitely in a heartbeat, I’d be there.
Wayne: And Amanda?
Amanda: I think with regards to the entire topic on the lucky side is that chances are I will be the one who has my grandchildren coming through my doors probably on a regular basis. And I am happy to have them come and be at my house, raising them is maybe another story if it was out of necessity, absolutely I would. But I would hope that I have put my kids in a good enough position that they don’t really need me for that.
Wayne: Thank you. And Chris, thank you for your time today and being a 59 year old father of 3 children, I realized time is scarce. Thanks for coming to us today. Do you have a last word to share with the audience?
Chris: Look, the biggest thing was changing my expectations. I had sort of got to 49 and saw my retirement, they’re not too far away and be able to travel and do all of those exciting things. It pretty much changed for the rest of my life and deciding to go ahead and have children because really, all of those retirement years that I was looking forward to, it now turned into parenting years. I can honestly say that I would not change a thing and I think I’ve probably got a much more enjoyable retirement to look forward to than I would probably anticipating.
Wayne: Thanks for that Chris and thanks for your time. Drew, do you have a parting thought for us?
Dr. Drew: Yes. Well, Chris makes good ethnography research for people like me and that is watching the lived experience and studying it but I think there’s great research in that space. I think older parents, Baby Boomer parents, we’ve as a society got a lot to learn from that technique, or that style or that outcome. And for grandparents who are Boomers and finding themselves raising children, kudos to all of you and I’m sure every Baby Boomer on the planet when they see you will go, “Yes, I’m with you, I’m there in spirit and soul.” But my advice for anyone as a Baby Boomer looking down this barrel is don’t look at the glass half-empty, try and look at the glass half-full.
Wayne: And so today on the Baby Boomer show, we’ve had with us Chris Curnow who’s a 59 year old father of 3 children under 7 and I guess he’ll soon be a 69 year old father of 3 children under 17. And then a 79 year old father of 3 children under 27, it’s one of those constant scales it just goes on but Chris has been good enough to join us and share with us his experiences. We’ve talked about all manner of things related to both grandparenting and parenting as Baby Boomers. And as always we’ve had our usual diversions into everything else, sexology, ethnographical studies, I didn’t think I could say that word I have to look it up yet and a little lapse through the internet. This week on Booms Day Prepping, my guests have been Brian Hinselwood, Amanda Lambros, Bron Williams and our special guest Chris Curnow and our co-host as always has been Dr. Drew Dwyer. This is Booms Day Prepping, our regular look where we talk about being a Baby Boomer and what comes next and it’s the Baby Boomer show.