There has been a swarm of late-bloomer dads in celebville recently, with 72-year-old Peter Stringfellow revealing that his young wife is expecting their baby, and actor Steve Martin becoming a first-time dad at 67. We ask, is having a child at an old age a life blessing or is it a selfish decision on behalf of the parents?
Traditionally, it has always been a woman’s age that is considered a risk factor for becoming a parent, but it seems that many older men are finding themselves changing diapers and decorating nurseries, when most are almost bed-pan-ready themselves.
So, what is the trigger for the recent mature fatherhood flourish?
My answer: young wives. Very young wives. Women young enough to be daughters and, in some cases, granddaughters, are shacking up with older men – a topic that deserves its own article – and naturally, these women are craving motherhood, duping their other half to believe that having a child means ‘there is life in the old dog yet’.
In my eyes this is wrong. Wrong on so many levels. Aside from the numerous health risks that come with late-parenthood, it simply isn’t right or fair on the child that their father will most probably be bed-bound or in the ground before they hit their teenage years. (Unless, obviously, their father is Hugh Hefner who is still going strong at 86 - but even the Playboy himself isn’t silly enough to be getting his young wife pregnant - yet!).
Let’s face it, more and more celebrity couples with a gaping age difference are getting together nowadays; Alec Baldwin and Hilaria Thomas (26-year age gap), Peter Stringfellow and Bella (42-year age gap), Steve Martin and Anne Stringfield (26-year age gap), Bruce Willis and Emma Hemming (23-year age gap) and the list goes on.
And every one of the men in these relationships has just become a dad again or is expecting a child with their young wife this year. Whereas in the case of comedian-actor Steve Martin, he has become a first-time dad at 67. Just why?
Taryn Davies, FemaleFirst’s Fashion, Beauty and Health Editor, says: “Whilst I do think it’s selfish in some sense, we live in a different era now.
“More and more people are waiting to have children and I think it can be dependent on circumstance. But, 67, that is a little old, isn’t it!?”
Yes it is. It’s three years from 70. It’s the age where retirees take long cruises and spend their days playing golf. And it definitely isn’t the age to be taking your newborn baby for a stroll in the park. No way.
Cameron Smith, FemaleFirst’s (sensible) Music Editor agrees: “I don’t really think it’s that fair. How are they going to help the kids through the tougher parts of young adult life when they’re knocking on the door of eighty?
“Also, childcare is exhausting for young couples, so I can’t imagine the levels of tired that Steve Martin’s going to be feeling.” Neither can I Cameron.
Let’s back track to the health risks.
Scientific American reported that large parental age differences increase the risk for psychiatric disorders in children. The report said: “Males may have the advantage of lifelong fertility, but as they grow older, the rate of genetic mutations passed on via their sperm cells increases significantly - putting their children at increased risk for psychiatric disorders, especially autism and schizophrenia.”
A theory that is also discussed and largely supported by the work of Allan Pacey, Chairman of the British Fertility Society, who writes in The Guardian: “We can only issue seemingly obvious advice that becoming a father under the age of 40 is probably better for the health of your children than waiting until you are older.”
Good advice. Makes perfect sense to me.
The truth of the matter is that these older men probably relish becoming fathers again at such a late age, and the unfair part is that many probably see it as a challenge to tackle at this stage in their life.
I do not doubt that these men can provide love and care for their children as any other younger father would, merely the stunted life-span with which they decide to enter fatherhood.
Not having a dad around for the most part of your life, because he just happened to be old enough to be your grandpa when you were born is, simply, selfish parenting. End of.
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