The news of Elton John and his partner David Furnish becoming parents to a baby boy ignited hardcopy and online news alike. Of course, this was not surprising. Celebrity adoptions have hit the headlines with a certain degree of frequency over the years. On this occasion, however, the sexual orientation of the parents provided the press with ample copy.
Frankly, the issue of the parents’ sexuality was a tired piece of reporting from the get-go. The debate over same-sex marriages and same-sex parents is common currency in today’s media; another same-sex couple, celebrity or otherwise, adopting a child has done little to shift the argument one way or the other. More importantly, however, it overshadowed another point which went largely unnoticed: the age of the new parents.
Regardless of faith or standpoint, becoming a parent at any time in one’s life is widely considered a blessing. For Elton John it has happened at 63. This is hardly a record-breaking age.
Older fathers are not an uncommon occurrence, and with the advent of medically-assisted methods of conception, the age at which a woman may become pregnant is no longer exclusively governed by natural means. Through this development, we are now faced with the growing prospect of a child being raised by an older father and an older mother. Crucially, this new parental landscape begs the question of whether there is an optimal upper-age limit for parenting a newborn or infant child, and, if so, how we might encourage potential parents to respect it.
Before further proceeding with this subject, it is important to understand that the key point of any discourse on parenting is the welfare of the child. This, above all else, must be our primary concern.
Still further, I am not disputing that more mature parents are fully capable of raising a child in a positive and nurturing environment. Neither am I in any doubt as to the rigorous thought that, in most cases, goes into the decision to become a parent, whether by natural conception or otherwise.