I am 42 years old. I have two girls that are three years old and five years old. One of them is in preschool, and the other is in kindergarten. I take them to school each day, and wait until the teachers take them into class before I leave. Sometimes I also stay afterward and chat with the parents. Each day I am reminded--we are the old parents. We are, in fact, capable of being parents to some of the kids that show up to drop off their kids for school.
There are several differences between the way older parents and younger parents going about the task of raising their children. I am not sure I can put these observations into words right now, but I will make an effort.
First, I think parents who are older tend to take a much more serious view of the parenting endeavor as a whole. I was a youth pastor. My wife is a child protection supervisor. We have seen how people have profoundly messed up their children by what they have done and what they have left undone. We know that parenting decisions that younger parents might not even concern themselves with actually do have profound developmental and personal impact on the child.
This week we received a note from the teacher about our child's tendency to whine. We discussed the concern in detail. I drafted a letter in response to the teachers emails, and after going through several drafts of the document I send it. The email was pleasantly written, but it was well-thought out. The note has numbered points to communicate most effectively. Seven to be exact.
Occasionally we discuss the possibility of moving to a different home. Sometimes a different home in the same town. Sometimes moving to a different city. When we do, we discuss how the transition might effect our child, their sense of confidence and security, and how we might alleviate these concerns if they were to ever come up. I don't believe many of our peers in their early twenties are nearly as concerned about such matters.
We realize we are mortal. Older parents are parents who have had their own parents deal with health scares, and in many cases we have also had health scares of our own. We understand that life is fragile and short. For this reason, at times we may be concerned about more things and different things that our younger peers.
One the lighter side, I think as older parents we savor the opportunity to raise children a lot more. As Darius Rucker says, "It won't be like this for long". We make sure we push ourselves to create moments of laughter and good memories. We sit in the moments we have with them, and understand them as gifts because we have spent many of our adult years without the opportunity to be a parent. I try and create rituals in prayer time and morning time that the kids can take with them.