Baby news from Al Pacino, Robert De Niro and how life is different for men
At the age of 83, Al Pacino is about to give birth to a child with his 29-year-old girlfriend. Robert DeNiro, 79, recently gave birth to his seventh child with a younger partner.
The actors are just two recent examples of older male celebrities having children with younger partners. And while the internet debates the ethics of conceiving a child so late in life, their age and age gap with their partners also present an open truth that many have long felt: Women face a constantly ticking biological clock that is changing affects many aspects of their lives, and men just don’t do that.
The recent headline-grabbing announcements from Pacino and DeNiro could be irritating for some and make this disparity harder to ignore, experts say.
Original message:Al Pacino, 83, is expecting a child with girlfriend Noor Alfallah
“There is pressure for women (who want to be mothers) to know what they want (in life) earlier compared to men who have more time to explore themselves or find out what they want,” says Professor Meghan Gillen of Psychology at Penn State Abington.
The privilege of not racing against the biological clock
Not all people who identify as women can or want to become pregnant. But for those who do, it can often feel like a race against time, as well as a balancing act between wanting to achieve professional success and figuring out what they want in life before taking responsibility for a child.
“There’s more pressure on women to have everything these days,” says Gillen. “Women are not only under pressure to have children, to start a family, but also to have a career. And the time in life when women may want to pursue a career just so happens to coincide with a time in their lives when they might also want to have children. So when women are focused on their careers or maybe haven’t found the right partner yet, it can be very frustrating.”
According to a study by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ Committee on Gynecologic Practice, a woman’s fertility begins to decline around age 32 and declines even more rapidly after age 37. According to a study by the University of Colorado at the Denver School of Medicine, 87% of women are infertile by the age of 45.
While studies show that men’s fertility also declines with age, medical experts say the decline is happening more slowly, particularly because sperm counts regenerate while egg counts are limited. And even when they do decide to have children, they often don’t make the same professional, social, and time sacrifices as their partners.
More:Robert De Niro welcomes his seventh child at 79 and shares name and first photo
The burden of having to make big life decisions early on – and later alone
Although no parent is guaranteed a long life, a person who has a child in their 70’s or 80’s is unlikely to live much past 20 years and leave the surviving parent alone.
dr Jane Frederick, expert in reproductive endocrinology and infertility and medical director of HRC Fertility, urges couples with big age gaps to have difficult conversations before trying to conceive.
“It’s going to be difficult for (the father) to teach a teenager how to drive when they’re in their 90s,” says Frederick. “I assume that any couple that has that age gap has already discussed the what if more (experience) and money to give their child?”
Remember, there’s a whole list of different options for families, Melissa Dowd, a licensed marriage and family therapist at virtual mental health platform PlushCare, previously told USA TODAY.
Sarah Wright, a licensed independent clinical social worker, previously stated, “Social science research still shows fairly clearly that family stability is more important than family structure.”
David Foster, 73, and his wife Katharine McPhee, 39, have said the same about their relationship. McPhee gave birth to their first child together in 2021. Foster also has five adult children.
“We have haters on social media, and there isn’t anyone who wouldn’t comment on the age difference,” Foster previously told USA TODAY of their marriage. “But there are so many things that can break up a marriage: It can be financial, it can be children, it can be geography, it can be infidelity. And one of them is the age difference, but that’s our only problem. Everything else is in tune, so it’s not going to bring us down.”
The good news is that medical advances like egg freezing and IVF procedures are making it easier for women in their late 30s and 40s to conceive.
“Don’t give up because you see how easy it is to be a father when you’re older and how difficult it is for women to be a mother when you’re older,” says Frederick.
Featuring: Sara M. Moniuszko, Patrick Ryan