Feature Archive

The Changing Face of Fatherhood

More men are opting for fatherhood later in life for a variety of reasons. Are the challenges different?

By Denise Mann
WebMD Feature

Reviewed By Brunilda Nazario, MD

Joseph had a change of heart at age 55 and reversed his vasectomy in honor of his second wife's 30th birthday.

After being forced into early retirement at age 45, Leonard decided it was time to settle down and start the family he never had time for.

Determined not to make the same mistakes that he did with his first family, Jeff began anew with his third wife. Jeff just turned 60.

Devastated by the loss of their only son, Edward and his wife -- both in their late 40s -- decided to have more children.

For a whole host of reasons, a growing number of men are opting to become later-in-life fathers. They join the ranks of such famous older dads as David Letterman, Tony Randall, Larry King, Anthony Quinn, Woody Allen, Charlie Chaplin, Warren Beatty, Jack Nicholson, and Nobel Prize-winning author Saul Bellow.

The majority of children are still being born to men who are 20 to 34, but a December 2003 National Vital Statistics Report indicates that birthrates among fathers aged 35 to 49 increased slightly from 2001 to 2002. Between 1980 and 2002, the rate of births among fathers aged 40 to 44 went up 32%, and for fathers aged 45 to 49, 21%. For men 50 to 54, the increase was 9%.