What Might Older Fathers of Toddlers Bring to Their Constituents?

Today, Gordon is 28 and her father is 76, only one year older than her maternal grandmother.

'No Big Deal'

"I really never considered it a big deal," said Gordon, a preschool teacher in New York City.

"He's always had an active lifestyle," she said. "People didn't believe he was that much older."

Her father, Bob Gordon, was 45 when he met his second wife, who was 19. Now 76, he still practices medicine in Providence, R.I.

"He was older and knew what he wanted," said Louise Bandieri of Bristol, R.I., Gordon's mother-in-law. "He's patient and very nurturing and caring, and their children have not suffered."

Gordon said he would never have been ready for marriage or for children in his 20s. "I was always proud to be an older parent," he said. "I spoil them all rotten."

Both Baldieri's daughters married men two decades their senior. Her second daughter is married to Ely Turetsky, a retired television control room director from New Haven, Conn.

"Younger women and children keep you young," said Turetsky, now nearly 74 with a 28-year-old daughter and 52-year-old wife.

Paul Garber, a 44-year-old newspaper editor from Winston-Salem, N.C., worried about having his first child in middle age. His own father died at the age of 54 when he was only 9. "I never knew him as an adult," he said. "Having a father in his 20s is very different than having an older parent."

'Happiest Years'

Garber, who writes a blog, "Fathers After 40," said he waited, but having two young children has given him the "happiest years" of his life.

"I am at the point where I am settled and stable, not buying a first house and moving up the ladder," he said.

Los Angeles psychologist Michael Diamond said "later timed fathers" like Dodd and Thompson are successful because they have the "enhanced resources" to cope with the stresses and responsibilities of parenthood.

"They have more money, a wider network of friends, children from earlier marriages who can get involved and siblings who act like surrogate parents," he said.

Lauren Wiener, 26, a special needs teacher from New York City, has multiple siblings across the generations because her 84-year-old father had been previously married.

"My father always spoke in grandiose, existential terms," said Wiener. "He would speak about his different lives with all his children."

She, too, worries about her father's mortality, but it enables Wiener -- and her father -- to find passion and purpose in their lives.

Presidential candidates Dodd and Thompson, too, say fatherhood has given new meaning to their political aspirations.

"It always makes me realize how important choices are and how each day counts," said Wiener. "There is a sense that time is passing, but I also think that having an older father leads to greater compassion and understanding about time and love."

That kind of empathy, say the experts, could go a long way in the White House.

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