Guys: The biological bell tolls on thee, too
By Mark de la Vina, MEDIANEWS STAFF
02/27/2007 07:41:48 AM PST
MEDIA TITAN Rupert Murdoch had a daughter when he was 72. Actor Tony Randall became a dad for the first time at 77. When the average life expectancy of the American male was a few months shy of 78, Nobel Prize-winning writer Saul Bellow fathered a kid at 84.
Long after a woman's biological clock stops ticking, most men can still father children. Yet many men say it's not just women who worry that they are too old to have kids. The physiology might allow for septuagenarians to bounce their beloved bundles on their arthritic knees, but the psychology suggests there is an age to stop bringing another baby on board.
Men having children past 40 is generally not a good idea, says Chris Mason, 46, of Danville. The father of three daughters by the time he was in his 30s, Mason says that he wouldn't consider having a fourth child, even if something were to happen to his wife.
"When your kids are young, you want to be out on the soccer field running, actually practicing with them," says Mason, the co-owner of a firm that out-sources sales. "But you get to a point where you can't keep up with the younger kids."
While the jury is still out on many details of the male biological clock, there is no consensus on the cutoff age for men to have kids, says Dr. Paul Turek, director of the Male Reproductive Health Center at the University of California, San Francisco.
"That's a fuzzy one," Turek says, "There is some evidence that as men age, their semen quality may decline slowly, but only at 1 percent a year after age 40. It's really hard to draw a line at some age."
You may scoff at the idea, but this is just the sort of thing that can gain traction with the drain-on-public-health crowd. That is, the favorite shibboleth used by the nanny-staters is that people should not be allowed to put a drain on public health services when they have made unacceptable lifestyle choices. It's happened with smoking, drinking, and it's beginning to happen with obesity and the consumption of certain foods. Now the door is opening for controlling the age at which one might be permitted to sire a child.
And here's the ultimate reason for justifying that control:
Ultimately, having a baby in life's late innings is a very subjective matter that can depend on such factors as health, financial well-being and the wife, Geraci says. But many dads bent on having kids aren't always weighing what's best for their children.
"They are selfish," he says. "You have to think about whether you want be a sperm donor or you want to be a father."
Isn't it nice to know that some people care enough about your self-interest to be able to determine when you're being selfish and when you're not?