Siring offspring later in life is by no means uncommon. But when it happens, people raise a glass and a lot of questions — something actor Al Pacino, 83, knows well, after confirming that he will become a dad for the fourth time later this year.
Pacino’s news comes on the heels of an announcement that fellow actor Robert De Niro, 79, welcomed a baby in May.
These two Oscar winners aren’t the world’s oldest fathers by a long shot. (That title goes to Australian Les Colley, who welcomed a son in 1991 at age 92, according to Guinness World Records.)
Pacino, whose 29-year-old girlfriend Noor Alfallah is pregnant, and De Niro, whose seventh child, daughter Gia Virginia Chen-De Niro, was born in April, have the public buzzing over older dads.
These actors aren’t the only Hollywood leading men to have children at an older age. Billy Joel was 68, Clint Eastwood was 66, and Eddie Murphy was 57 when their youngest children were born.
Having children later in life is a trend that has been on the rise among the general population for some time.
The age of a new father in the U.S. rose from 27.4 to 30.9 years from 1972 to 2015, according to a 2017 analysis by Stanford University researchers. The percentage of new dads in their 40s doubled during that time, to almost 9 percent.
John Duffy, a licensed clinical psychologist and national parenting expert based in Chicago, says he’s come around over the years on the topic of older dads. An obvious concern is that at an older age, a father may not be around for all the milestones as a child progresses into the teenage years and adulthood.
“I will admit that I used to be concerned about this phenomenon,” Duffy says. “I thought these men seemed too old to start a family, given all the energy and time and patience that’s required to have a child.”
Duffy’s thinking has shifted. “I’ve found those concerns to be less than relevant,” he says. “There are ways to father effectively after age 50 — but it’s a different way of parenting than when you’re in your 20s and 30s.”
Mark Liu knows that well. The 58-year-old digital content strategist from Brighton, New York, became a parent to his third child, Sammy, at 52.
Already father to a son and daughter — 18 and 15, respectively — Liu found comfort in the fact that his own dad had his youngest child at age 60.
“I’ve kept in pretty good shape, and I love having kids, so I wasn’t too worried,” he says. “In a way, it gives us one more chance to get it right, to model and share the things we think are important in life.”
What should men take into account when thinking of becoming an older dad? Here are some things to consider.