Virtual book tour with Len Filppu

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000032_00027]We’re pleased to welcome Len Filppu to our blog today for a Virtual Book Tour. Len is the author of Prime Time Dads: 45 Reasons to Embrace Midlife Fatherhood, a parenting book filled with a collection of his humorous and heartfelt essays. They support his radical notion that mature men are well-suited for fatherhood, and that rather than being just ‘better late than never,’ midlife fatherhood can actually be better later.

Len is a writer/screenwriter who’s worked in Silicon Valley and on Capitol Hill, but he says the best thing he ever did was become a first-time father in midlife. He celebrates life every day with his wife and kids, who are now 14 and 11. So let’s begin.

HMC: Your book, PRIME TIME DADS: 45 Reasons to Embrace Midlife Fatherhood – what’s it about?

Len: When faced with first time fatherhood at the age of 49, I didn’t know whether to celebrate with champagne… or hemlock. But it’s turned out to be best thing I ever did. I discovered that I possessed many attributes as a mature man that helped me to love fatherhood and also made me a better dad. And I was so happy and relieved to find later-blooming fatherhood so enjoyable, rewarding, interesting, and valuable that I wanted to shout about it from the highest mountain. Surely, I figured, there must be other mature men like me, and plenty of women and partners in love with them, who might want to have children and raise a family. This book is for them.

HMC: How did you come up with the idea for the book?

Len: I was writing fictional screenplays and pondering my next project. It occurred to me what a pleasant and fulfilling journey fatherhood was, despite the fact that my son peed in my ear when I was changing him, my wife and I were sleep walking, Visine-addicted zombies, and our home décor was post tornado. I concluded the three-ring circus to write about was happening 24 by 7, right here under our family’s big top. While plenty of celebrities such as Steve Martin and Warren Beatty become later-blooming dads, there wasn’t any recent literature available on the subject and scant news about the average Joe’s experience with mature fatherhood. Nature abhors a vacuum, and I figured there must be others like me and millions who love them, so the book was born.

HMC: Who is the target audience?

Len: For the purposes of this book, I think of prime time midlife for a man as somewhere between the ages of 40 and 60 or so, but it could be younger depending on the man. And while PRIME TIME DADS is written by a man for men from a male point of view, it’s a book women will love, you know, a peek inside the men’s locker room psyche. If you’re a woman in a relationship with a mature man who is reluctant or undecided about having kids, this book is the rattle prod you can use to jolt him into a new consciousness. Wrap it up in bacon and it’s the perfect gift for the mature or late-blooming husband, boyfriend, son, grandson, nephew, colleague, buddy, bodyguard, or boy toy you think might make a great dad.

HMC: You were scared about later-in-life fatherhood?

Len: Yes, truly. I was an uncle and had dated women with children. I had an inkling of the time and energy commitments parenting required. I wondered if I would have the stamina, if I’d miss doing whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. Would I sit on bleachers at Little League games dozing and drooling like Homer Simpson’s dad while mumbling songs from Woodstock? But I discovered to my surprise that as a mature man, I had a large toolbox of experience, skills, and psychological attributes that not only helped me thrive in fatherhood but also made my parenting more beneficial to the kids and the family unit.

HMC: What’s been your biggest surprise as a prime time dad?

Len: Honestly, that it’s so much fun and that I’m so much better prepared to face fatherhood’s difficulties and appreciate its deep joys as a mature man. Having children in my 20s or 30s would have felt like a prison sentence to me. I might’ve seen my wife as the warden, scraped a sippy cup across the baby’s crib bars, grown resentful, then bitter, and planned my escapes. That’s not healthy for the kids or anyone else.

HMC: What are some of the attributes of later-in-life fatherhood?

Len: Well, it’s not about the fact that I can now grow hair better from my ears than my scalp. Men age well. We mellow, become more patient, more empathetic, less self-centered. Mature men generally have a bit more money to help meet the costs of parenthood, and are farther along in their careers so they have greater flexibility to spend more time with their kids in their early formative years. Young men and women expend their juices figuring out who they are, establishing themselves in careers, and scrimping to buy a house. These time and energy sinkholes often detract from parenting efforts. They diminish as we get older.

HMC: What was your biggest fear?

Len: Oh, how vanity leads to insanity. To tell the truth, my main fear, number one, was that I would be mistaken for grandpa. I tripped out on visions like, would the young cashier at the grocery store tell me what a nice “grandson” I had who’s helping me shop and did I somehow miss the Depends and Geritol on aisle 8? But the reality is completely different. Fatherhood has revitalized me. The fear was all in my head. I was being an ageist to myself. I made a commitment to stop discriminating against myself, and I’m comfortable as a unique, but certainly not antique, prime time dad.

HMC: What about dying when your kids are still young?

Len: Accidents and disease can happen at any age. The actuarial charts say I may not be around forever, but knowing this is actually a plus. I don’t take any of this ride for granted. I’m grateful to be a dad. Rather than always saying “later” to my kids’ requests for a game of basketball or a swim, I try to say “yes.” I purposely inject quality times into our lives. And taking fatherhood seriously drives me to regular doctor visits, to the gym, to the nutritionist, to yoga. Yes, I’m an old dog learning new tricks like downward dog. I may not be around when my kids are 45 and 50, but they damn well know I was around and deeply involved when they were four and five and 15, and I’m going strong. I joke that later blooming fatherhood will either keep me young or put me in my grave, and that the jury is still out. But the truth is that it’s keeping me young, active, invigorated, attentive, creative, and inspired. All these benefits make me a better dad and help enrich the lives of my children and our family.

HMC: How do your children feel about all this?

Len: As far as I can tell, they treat me just like every other kid treats their parents. Yes, we’ve had talks about death, dealt with their fears. But doesn’t that happen in every family? I remember those childhood fear-based discussions with my parents. I’ve taken the kids to book signings and the audience has asked them how they feel. They say they’re glad I’ve been active in their lives, that I’ve been able to attend school plays and concerts, that I’ve been a sports coach and team parent, that I’m around and aware and deeply integrated into their lives. It’s normal for them. Later in life fatherhood and parenthood is increasingly a new normal, a growing trend.

HMC: Do you have a piece of advice for other or wannabe mature dads?

Len: Yes. The trick is to turn things around. Make positives out of perceived negatives. Think you’re too tired to go to the Cub Scout meeting? Get up and go. It’ll energize you. Worried you won’t last forever? Then make every moment count, say yes to creating quality times in your parenting life, and get to the gym and the doctor. Overwhelmed with tasks such as driving to swim practice, seeing a choir concert, and picking up dinner all at the same time? Count your blessings that you’ve got people who love you and you’re in the midst of a rich and rewarding life. For me, a full nest trumps an empty nest. Turn negatives into positives. Don’t sit in a rocking chair dreaming about the past. Keep on rockin’ into the future.

HMC: Readers, now that you’ve heard these stimulating words from Len about his book Prime Time Dads, we’d like to hear from you. To ask a question or share your comments, click on ‘Leave a Reply’ at the bottom of the post, then follow the prompts.

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13 Responses to Virtual book tour with Len Filppu

  1. Tiffany says:

    With my clock ticking I really want to have a baby now but my partner thinks he’s too old to start again. He already has two kids from his first wife but I want our own. What can I say or do to convince him?

    • Len Filppu says:

      Thank you for your question, Tiffany. I’ve spoken with many men who discovered that being a father for their second round of kids was easier, more fulfilling, and more beneficial for the children because they were more mature, more experienced, had more money and more time, and knew better the ropes of parenthood. Of course, I wouldn’t be a very good author on a virtual book tour if I did not suggest giving your partner a copy of my book. It’ll make him laugh and think about later in life fatherhood, two essentials in the process of convincing himself that it might just be a rich and rewarding experience for all. Good luck, Tiffany.

  2. Robyn says:

    You said you were afraid that some stranger would think you were the grandfather, not the father. Did that ever happen to you? What did you do? I chose motherhood in my 40’s and sometimes I get those comments myself. I usually stumble out something but I’m looking for a wise – or funny – retort.

    • Len Filppu says:

      Yes, Robyn, but it’s only happened twice… in over 14 years. Yet despite its rare occurrence, the irrational fear of it haunted me for several years in my early days of fatherhood. I write about how I overcame this in my book, and essentially it boils down to the self-discovery that I was being an ageist to myself. No one else really cared or thought about my age. It was all inside my own head. I wish I had a witty retort to give you, but I let people know with a smile and sincere statement that I feel blessed to be the father. Thank you for your question, Robyn. Hope this helps.

  3. Stu says:

    My wife and I are thinking of starting a family but I’m just not sure it’s the right thing at my age. I feel young at heart but my body tells me otherwise – my back hurts, my knees are shot, I pulled my shoulder at the gym. Are my wife and I kidding ourselves?

    • Len Filppu says:

      You’ve got most of the battle won, Stu, by being young at heart. I don’t know your age, but I had my first child at age 49, and there are now two, aged 14 and 11. The kids actually keep me young, active, and force me to get in and remain in better shape. I now work out regularly (which I neglected before the kids came), see the doctor, watch my diet, and get up off the sofa to participate in physical activities with them. And since starting gentle yoga about four months ago, my back has not ached. No Grandpa Simpson rocking chair for me, Stu… I’m still trying to rock out with my family.

  4. Donnie says:

    I found your book to be very entertaining, and informative. Is there another in the works, maybe an update, how a later life Dad copes with teen children? And, are there plans for the original to be developed into a screenplay?

    • Len Filppu says:

      Good question, Donnie, thank you. The teen years are revealing a new set of challenges and joys, and we’re really just starting that journey. My kids and family life inspired PRIME TIME DADS, and in similar fashion, I’m in the planning stages of a YA novel, you know, following the flow, grabbing ideas and creative input from the life bursting all around me. I’m so glad you found PTD both entertaining and informative because that’s exactly what I was trying to do for men and women who might be considering later blooming parenthood. And if you know anyone at CAA, let’s take lunch.

  5. Brianna says:

    Your title says there are 45 good reasons to become a midlife father but if I’m going to make a pitch to my boyfriend, which one or two reasons do you think would have the most impact?

    • Len Filppu says:

      Tough question, Brianna, thank you. Here goes. The top reason men should consider fatherhood in midlife is because they can now handle the job. By midlife, men (and women) usually have more money, more job clarity, more patience, more life skills, and more time to spend on activities other than establishing their careers and finding a city and home in which to live. Because of this, they can better handle the priorities of fatherhood. Being dad can then become more fun, a privilege, have deeper meaning, and be more beneficial for the children and mom. Pitch him with the book itself, Brianna… preferably wrapped in fried bacon.

  6. Vicki says:

    My own parents had me at what was then considered “late-in-life.” My dad was 36 when I was born but out of all the younger fathers on the block, he was the one who took our whole “gang” out to do fun things on the weekends – swimming, ice skating, horseback riding – and did them with us! His age didn’t stop him from teaching me how to do a back dive, hit a tennis ball or do a cartwheel. In his late 70’s he was still doing the limbo. So, you’re right, age doesn’t matter that much if you’ve got the right attitude. Thanks for writing your book!

    • Len Filppu says:

      Many thanks, Vicki, your comments warm my heart. Your limboing dad certainly knew the dance of midlife fatherhood. The partners are precious, the beat is hot, and you better get up and get dancing because the song just won’t last forever. So glad you shared your memories.

  7. Len Filppu says:

    I’d like to thank everyone who left comments and questions and everyone who joined us on this Virtual Book Tour. And a special tip of my hat to our hosts, Rosemary and Phyllis, who do such important work and made me feel at home here. I’m told we’ll monitor this tour site for a bit, so please feel free to leave additional commentary, or you can always interact or check in by going to my website at Happy parenting. –Len Filppu

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