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What Robert De Niro should've considered before becoming a dad at 79

Opinion: Becoming a father requires a lot of stamina, which older dads simply don't have.

Opinion

In 2023, there doesn't seem to be an ideal age for males to become dads. In fact, fatherhood has become a long game for many men, with having children "later" in life apparently seen as the best way to go, especially in the cult-like world of celebrity.

It seems we're hearing more and more about "celebrity" and high-profile dads of quite some age announcing the arrival of their latest offspring. Robert De Niro recently joined that club, becoming a father for the seventh time at 79.

While he certainly has wisdom, life experience and wealth on his side, let's hope he's also got the physical strength needed to co-parent a baby, then later a tot and young child.

Robert De Niro
Robert De Niro just announced the birth of his seventh child at the age of 79. Photo: Getty

We seem to be constantly heralding older blokes for having babies, giving them a silent high-five every time they've announced a baby is on the way. Let's be honest here, the man's initial job was possibly pretty short and sharp. And no, I'm not at all undervaluing the preciousness of sensational swimming sperm, but for many, the job kind of finished at orgasm.

Double standards

Sure, choice is choice and love is love and all babies are totally exquisite and total gifts. But the narrative is still very much that we "rah-rah" blokes for the contribution they made towards a pregnancy, particularly when the bloke is an older one. We can only hope that pa will help out with the nappies, sleepless nights, school runs, early morning sports starts, and still be alive and/or lucid once the kids hit dating age.

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When we talk about women having babies at an older age, there is still lots of tut-tutting and (legitimate) endless warnings about females needing to start earlier if they plan on having viable pregnancies. Which is obviously true. The physicality of a woman falling pregnant is age-related and that isn't news to any of us, but the raft of older male celebrities welcoming babies seems to be growing without the same concern.

It is beautiful news indeed, as nothing is more sacred than new life. But in so many of these cases, unless they're hoarding a fountain of youth, many of these said gentlemen will not be around when the kids are dashing down field in a three-legged race.

Alec Baldwin welcomed his eighth child six months after turning 65. Photo: Getty
Alec Baldwin welcomed his eighth child six months after turning 65. Photo: Getty

Quality time?

De Niro certainly isn't the oldest celebrity to be changing nappies in his senior years. Look at former Formula One boss, Bernie Ecclestone, who fathered his fourth child three years ago. At 89. Other older celeb dads have included Billy Joel, Rod Stewart, Alec Baldwin, Elton John, Mick Jagger, Steve Martin and Jeff Goldblum, all who welcomed children after the age of 65.

It's an interesting situation. Lots of dads (and mums too, but we're focusing on blokes here) work incredibly hard in their 60s, 70s and even 80s. And a small few until their 90s. So it's only when they start winding down their careers - and that seems to be older than ever now - that they actually do have time to spend with their kids. So it's a bit of a Catch-22.

No mega-judgement here, but let's hope members of the really old dad brigade have the strength and the sanity to join their kids on a major part of their magnificent life journey.

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