My first reaction on hearing of Mick Jagger becoming a father again at the age of 72 was an instinctive one. Ewww…gross. This wasn’t (only) because of his age, but also specifically because it’s Mick Jagger and the thought of him having sex with anyone, especially a woman nearly 50 years his junior is not an edifying one. It’s also not a very fair reaction, because I don’t inherently think there’s anything wrong with becoming a father at a late age, and even if I did, it’s absolutely none of my business.
It did get me thinking about when the best time is to become a father though . I can see the advantages of being a young dad. You would have much more of the energy required to keep up with a toddler or small child. I’m not that old myself (36) but I can already feel my joints and bones creak and ache as I try to keep up with my 2 year old daughter, and I feel bad if I get too tired for her horseplay. It doesn’t happen that often but would have been even less common if I were 10 years younger. A downside to being a young dad might be seeing all your friends going out and having fun whilst you’re at home looking after a baby. There is a flip side to this though. A friend of mine had her daughter and quite a young age and so couldn’t go out much then, but now her daughter is teenage she’s having a great time in her mid-thirties.
There are plenty of advantages to being an older dad too of course. You’re (hopefully) more financially secure. You’re (hopefully) wiser and more emotionally mature. You’ve probably put your wildest days behind you. This happens at different ages for all of us of course. For me it was by my early thirties. For comedian Richard Herring, who writes and performs wonderfully on being an older dad, it was in his forties. For Jagger, that day may not yet have arrived yet.
Perhaps the biggest peril of becoming an older dad, and certainly the most serious, is that you may not be around for as much of your child’s life. Jagger will be 90 by the time his latest child reaches adulthood, so the odds are not in his favour. One of the worst things I can imagine is not being around to see my daughter grow up, so I hope and pray (well not actually pray in my case) that I will reach at least an average age.
I became a father at 34, and for me my mid-thirties was the right time, I think. There’s no way I was mature enough to be a father in my twenties, and the increased confidence and contentment I have found in recent years is serving me well in fatherhood. I had plenty of time to enjoy my youth, free of responsibility, but by 34 reached a stage where I was ready for that responsibility. I no longer had the energy or inclination to go our raving, but I still just about have enough energy to keep up with my daughter as she races around the playground.
Most of all though I consider myself lucky that I met the person I wanted to have children with at the time I was ready, and lucky that I never had a biological clock forcing me into choices I wasn’t ready to make. I have single male friends my own age who want to have kids some day, and for them, there’s no reason that they can’t wait another 5, 10, 20 years, if that’s what they want. Female friends the same age have had much more difficult choices to make. There is no female equivalent to Mick Jagger, moving from marriage to marriage, siring new children each time. Not that it is something to aspire to, necessarily. I wouldn’t want to be like Jagger. I don’t want to be a dad in my Seventies (and I very much expect to still be married to my present wife), but as a man, as unfortunately is so often the case, I have greater freedom of choice.