When Len Filppu became a first-time father at the age of 49, he was nervous about it.
“I worried about falling asleep at Little League games, drooling like Homer Simpson,” he told a Nov. 8 gathering at Linden Tree Books in Los Altos.
Filppu, author of the new book “Prime Time Dads: 45 Reasons to Embrace Midlife Fatherhood (Bright Lights Press, 2013),” appeared at Linden Tree to sign books, read excerpts and offer his off-the-cuff, humorous perspective on later-life parenting.
While he acknowledged that fatherhood at an older age isn’t for everyone, Filppu called having children later in life the “absolute best thing that ever happened to me.”
The retired corporate communications specialist, now 62, pointed to his daughter, 13, and son, 10, in the Linden Tree audience.
Prime-time fatherhood worked for him, Filppu said, because focusing on his career in his youth allowed him the financial security to raise a family later.
“I was able to travel around the country,” he said. “Had I had children in my 20s and 30s, I would have been inhibited from doing that.”
Filppu said the life experiences that come with maturity are a big plus for raising children.
“You know more about people,” he said. “You know more about your own shortcomings.”
Another advantage, he noted, is losing the pretense and not being afraid to “act like a clown.” He recalled playing Captain Hook on the playground.
“My son immediately joined in the game,” he said, adding that before long, another 30 kids were playing with them, raising the eyebrows of curious parents. “I worried they might think I was the local pervert, but I sensed a touch of private admiration.”
Other benefits involve a change in attitude and philosophy. Being older, Filppu said, made him say yes to his children’s requests rather than “maybe later,” because time was more precious – and later might never come.
“When they ask me, ‘Dad let’s shoot baskets,’ instead of putting it off, I get myself up to do it,” he said.
Later-in-life fatherhood also inspired him to stay in shape – hike, do yoga – because he wants to be around as long as possible for his kids. Or as he puts it, “It gets me out of the rocking chair and keeps me rocking.”
Former CNN broadcaster Larry King, who had two sons when he was in his 60s, can relate. He provided a testimonial for Filppu’s book.
“The best thing that ever happened to me in life is being able to be a later in life dad,” King wrote. “I’m 77 years old, I have three grown children, and the lights of my life are my 11- and 10-year-old boys. Later life fatherhood keeps me young, keeps me vital, and makes me feel relevant each and every day. I urge you to read ‘Prime Time Dads.’ Its point of view is young and vital and relevant each and every page.”
“Prime Time Dads” is available through major online retailers both as a print book for $14.95 and as an e-book for $9.99.
For more information, visit primetimedads.com.