The old boys’ club

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - - The Everest - ANNABEL HEN­NESSY

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

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