ESSENCE editor Charreah K. Jackson responds to harsh criticism of Mellody Hobson’s decision to become a mother at 44.
First came love and then came a marriage for financial whiz Mellody Hobson, 44, and her Star Wars creator husband George Lucas, 69 (which kicked off with a star-studded wedding in June where Prince performed). Now many think their romance should have skipped over adding a baby carriage. TMZ recently announced they had the first pictures of the couple’s 4-month-old daughter Everest, who was born by a surrogate mother in November. And commenters were not a fan of the 69-year-old becoming a new dad, even if he is one of the richest men in the world.
“69 and having a baby? so selfish!!!”
“So when the kid graduates high school pops will be 88? Gross. Playing peek a boo with this kid will cause pops to have a stroke.”
“He’ll croak before the baby is walking. Selfish”
“He must be planning on a Darth Vader type suit to see this kid graduate high school.”
I found the comments rather harsh. There are many selfish reasons people have babies (google Mellie’s story on Scandal for reference) and age is usually not one of them. Everest is the first biological child for both her parents and Lucas has three adopted children in their 20s and 30s. So what if the white-haired dad won’t coach Everest’s softball team? After selling his billion-dollar film company to Disney, he probably has more time to spend with his newborn than most parents and the ability to plan and provide for his daughter. The responsibility of a parent is to love, guide and protect your child. That does not come with a warranty or timeframe. And let’s be honest: whether you are 25 or 65, as a new parent there is still no guarantee of how long you have to live. One of the best gifts any parent can give their children is to make plans for the time when you will no longer be here to be there for your kids.
The decision to have a child is incredibly personal. Since our eggs and sperm are healthiest before 35, I encourage men and women to start making plans for children as soon as you realize you want them. Wanting children after your biological prime and having the means to have them in a healthy way is also still your right. And if you don’t have the means for the thousands of dollars fertility treatments can cost, plan your baby making accordingly and make it a priority. As the average age of marriage and first time parents continues to rise, and science allows couples to prolong fertility, more babies are born to older parents. And arguably these parents will be in a better position to be there for their children.
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