parents

Jeff Goldblum is 62 years old and celebrating the birth of his first child.

This happy news is definitely worth celebrating. Unless you’re a woman over 40, apparently…

Jeff Goldblum is very happy this week, and rightly so: The 62-year-old Jurassic Park star has just become a father for the first time.

Goldblum and his wife Emilie Livingston welcomed a son, Charlie Ocean, on Saturday.

They shared this sweet family photo from the hospital, showing a wrapped-up, red-faced Charlie resting in Livingston’s arms.

Jeff Goldblum, Emilie Livingston and baby Charlie Ocean. (Photo: Facebook)

Goldbum and 32-year-old Livingston are currently being collectively cheered by the online community of fans, and rightly so: It’s lovely news worth celebrating.

Related: 62-year-old actor welcomes his very first baby.

But we wonder how would the world have reacted if a celebrity had become a first-time mother, rather than father, past 40 years of age?

Well, you don’t have to imagine. Because we already know that, every time a famous woman over 40 gives birth, there’s one thing she can count on: The fact she’ll be labelled ‘selfish’.

Jeff Goldblum, who just became a father for the first time.

When TV host Sonia Kruger fell pregnant at age 48 after several rounds of IVF, social media took approximately two seconds to begin tearing her down with snide remarks about how ‘irresponsible’ she supposedly was for having a baby ‘at her age’.

Related: Rebecca Sparrow on the backlash against Sonia Kruger.

Here are some words published by the Sunshine Coast Daily about Kruger’s pregnancy:

“That child deserves a future. A future with its parents young and healthy enough to play footy, go to dance lessons and partake in their hectic and busy young lives.”

Here are some reader comments about Kruger’s choice to have a baby in her 40s:

“[I]f you spend money on IVF to get up the duff… you have serious problems.”

“Well if you wanted to be a mum so bad at 49 why wouldn’t you stay home and be a mother instead of being back on tv after only 6 months?

“She is cute but why work on 2 shows when it took u so long to get pregnant?”

“Sure, have a baby when you’re middle aged, be selfish….no need to worry about your child being embarrassed when their friends rib them about having a wrinkly granny for a mother.

“No need to worry about the greater risk of giving childbirth once you’re over 35… Good one Sonia!”

That wasn’t an isolated incident, either. Here are some barbs thrown Halle Berry’s way when she had a child at 47:

“It’s not that Halle is physically too old to have kids, she’s just too old to want to play with her kids. For the next 20 years. Until she’s 66.”

“Typical woman, so selfish. That poor boy’s mother will be too old to cook for him by the time he’s 30.”

Some other celebrity women who’ve had babies after 40 (post continues after gallery): 

And here’s  a reader though about Gwen Stefani showing a ‘baby bump’ at 43:

“Isn’t she too old to be having babies?”

… Aaand let’s not forget that Laura Linney drew similar criticism when she gave birth to a baby boy at age 49 last year:

“She is almost 70 when her boy graduated from high school, if she is even still alive. Irresponsible and selfish.”

Some more criticism directed at over-40s mums (post continues after gallery):

Clearly, online community may be happy to embrace Goldblum becoming a first-time parent past middle-age, but its collective brain practically malfunctions when a woman has a child past the society-sanctioned age of 35.

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Related: Age has nothing to do with being a great parent.

“But,” I hear you say, “it’s physically less safe for a woman for get pregnant and give birth after 40!”

True. But that’s not what we’re talking about here, is it?

Most of these criticisms aren’t about maternal health issues — they’re about women ‘selfishly prioritising their careers’ and ‘being too old to have energy’ to play with their kids.

The thing about those criticisms is that they assume women are the only ones who raise a child. That they’re the only ones who have to pick the kids up after soccer, chase the kids around the house, or cook dinner. That a dad — say, like Goldblum — can happily take a passive role in parenting, perhaps puffing away on a pipe while his kids play quietly at his feet like some ad from the 50s.

Those criticisms also assume that women’s primary role must be that of child-bearer, hence her being automatically dismissed as ‘selfish’ if she focuses on her career during her so-called ‘childbearing prime’. (Meanwhile, men are given a free pass by society to roam childfree through their 30s, 40s and beyond, with hardly a question about their family plans in sight.)

Related: Sonia Kruger and her baby Maggie dominate morning TV.

Those criticisms also miss the point: That being a parent is less about age than it is about love, patience, and showing up — to hospital emergency rooms, to football games, and to awards ceremonies.

As contributing editor Rebecca Sparrow wrote previously:

Being a good parent has nothing to do with age. NOTHING…

A great parent is willing and importantly ready to put someone else first. It’s walking the halls at 1am and 3am and 4.15am and 4.47am with a fractious newborn and knowing that tomorrow night will be exactly the same.

It’s slowing down and finding the patience on walks to the park as every leaf and rock and – yes, bit of rubbish – is looked at and queried as you make your way at a snail’s pace knowing there’s nowhere else you’d rather be.

It’s about knowing that some days you just have to surrender that to-do list and give yourself over to building a fort or baking a cake or curling up with Winnie-The-Pooh. All the while you remind yourself that the days are long but the years are short.

It’s about leading by example, riding out the tantrums, setting boundaries and hardest of all saying no when the easy way out is a yes.

So Jeff Goldblum — congratulations. And congratulations, also, to all people of all genders and ages who achieve their wish of having a child.

Chances are you’ll throw yourself into your role of new parent with gusto — showering your brand-new human with love and patience, and endlessly putting his or her needs first.

And, young or old, male or female — there’s nothing selfish about that.

Related:

At 62 years old, this actor has become a first-time dad.

A message to all my young friends who want to have children.

Why Cameron Diaz chooses to be childfree.