What remains to be seen, however, is whether becoming a parent at a greater age is in the best interests of the child. It is for this reason and this reason alone that I seek to frame the question of whether there is a desirable upper-age limit for a prospective parent.

Insofar as I see it, the question of whether older parents are, in the main, to the benefit of the child is a relatively simple one. A parent’s role is to provide for their child – barring accident or disease – until the child reaches adulthood, the stage of maturation at which a person is sufficiently able to provide for him/herself. Thus, by today’s standards, if full adulthood is attained at circa 20 years of age, a man or woman who becomes a parent in their early 60s is assuming that he or she will, at the very least, live until 80 years of age.

Considering that the average male life expectancy in many developed countries is closing in on 80 years, and for women higher still, perhaps it is not unreasonable to hold that parenthood can begin – or begin again – at around 60 years of age.

I’m afraid, however, that I find this position anything but reasonable. It rests upon the gross assumption that one will live as long as the upper age limit of one’s demographic group. This is a huge conceit, and one which is magnified by the true content of the calculation, namely that an older parent is more likely to die before his or her child is physically and emotionally independent.

The question of ensuring a child’s physical maturity may be less significant, given that a more mature parent has had additional opportunity to financially provide for his or her child in the event of their death. In the case of the emotional well-being of the child, the matter becomes more complicated. Personal and social care cannot be substituted by solely economic means. Love and affection are not commodities which may be stored away in a vault and distributed by way of a parental legacy. Close family members may be able to provide these sorts of essentials, so vital to the welfare of the child, but to experience the death of a parent remains a profound event.

Therefore, it is the emotional portion of parental loss, which cannot be allayed via goods or materials, which represents our true concern. Put another way, the loss of emotional support for a child, due to the death of a parent through old age, is little short of being an emotion-charged time bomb.

This is not a matter to perceive lightly, however much it may be rejected by those who would claim that it is a moot point, given that any parent may die at any time, regardless of age. But this particular refrain sounds rather hollow when held up against the decision to intentionally commence upon a parental journey, in the full knowledge that one is unlikely to see one’s offspring reach full maturity, never mind being present to ensure that this maturation process is properly completed.

If an upper age limit on parenting a newborn or infant child can be reasonably identified, it is one which should hold the emotional welfare of the potential child as its primary purpose, since clearly it is the emotional repercussions which are most critical.