The old boys’ club
OLDER Aussie men are embracing fatherhood like never before, with social researchers claiming a shift in social attitudes means blokes see becoming dads in their 40s and 50s as “trendy”.
There are now more men over the age of 40 having children than men in their early 20s — with the number of fathers aged 20-24 dropping 10 per cent in the past five years.
The change comes as research reveals the rise of “Dad 2.0”, with men playing bigger roles in rearing their children and more than 80 per cent of them saying family is more important than their career.
The Saturday Telegraph’s analysis of Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows that between 2005 and 2015 the number of men having children in their 40s jumped 20 per cent, with more than 38,000 men becoming dads in this category each year.
The figure for men in their 50s soared 25 per cent in the same period, with more than 4000 men aged 50-59 welcoming babies in 2015.
Social researcher Mark McCrindle told The Saturday Telegraph being an older dad was once seen as “embarrassing” but is now viewed as a status symbol.
Popular culture was also having an influence with celebrities like George Clooney cultivating the image of the “sexy” older dad. “What it says is that I am healthy and active and living a young life,” Mr McCrindle said. “While in the past men who remarried in their 40s and 50s would say, ‘I’m done, I don’t want any more kids,’ now there’s an attitude of, ‘I can do it.’ ”
Mr McCrindle said it was likely the number of older fathers would rise as more people focused on their careers in their 20s and 30s.
Dr Rosina McAlpine said there were advantages to having children later in life, especially for those men who had also had kids earlier in life.
“Some of these dads have said they feel like they have another chance to do better the second time around as they were busy working with their older children,” she said.
South coast life coach Rik Schnabel had his two daughters when he was 41 and 44 and said he received “blunt comments” from friends. He said people said, “Have you really thought about what you’re doing?” And, “Oh my god, you’ll be in their sixties at their 21st.”
Northern beaches man Mark Adderton had his two children at 45 and 48 and said becoming a dad later in life allowed him to be a better father.
“I do school pick-up and drop-off, I go to all their events and functions,” he said. “I’m at the school functions and it’s me and all the mums and a couple of other dads.”
Here’s to grey hair and learning how to change nappies Editorial page 44
Northern beaches dad Mark Adderton, 52, with his kids Beau, 5, and Chase, 7. Picture: Richard Dobson