'Like Robert De Niro, my dad is an older dad. Here's what I want you to know.'

My dad’s age makes people feel uncomfortable. 

I can sense their discomfort as they struggle to find the right words, whilst quickly doing the mental maths. 

His age is so shocking, that I am yet to come across anyone my age whose dad is a similar age to mine. For context, I am a few days off 27 and my dad is 83 – which means he was 56 when I was born, a common age to have, well, a 27-year-old.

Celebrities are miraculously continuing to produce children well past what we believe their expiration date is, much like Robert De Niro, who became a father for the seventh time at the age of 79. The thing is, in Hollywood, this story of late fatherhood is no abnormality. At 92 years old, Clint Eastwood has a daughter who is the same age as myself, and Rupert Murdoch had children well into his 70s. 

Watch: Steve Harvey shares the reality of having an older parent. Post continues after video.

Video via Steve TV Show.

But, in my world, it’s not.

Having a newborn when one could already be a grandfather or even a great-grandfather is deemed, for lack of a better word, repulsive for many. We’re quick to believe that fathers with deteriorating health and death looming ever so close are downright selfish, and should they even be having sex at that age, with younger women that can carry their child?


And, that’s not to say that I don’t get it. As a child of an older dad, I do. However, the salacious comments made about older fathers can be hurtful – especially for the children that are the product of them.

If it was possible to have a younger dad, one I knew would be around to see me get married and have children, I would. But that’s not my reality. 

With a diagnosis of Parkinson's Disease and rapidly decreasing cognitive abilities, I know my dad doesn't have much time left. And yet, I have weirdly been preparing for my dad to die since I was young, in a non-morbid way (if that’s possible). I knew he was very old when I was very young, and I was well aware that I could have him one moment and lose him the next.

I honestly can’t remember a time when I didn’t know my dad was old. But, it was made abundantly clear to me when other children at school would ask me whether that was my 'grandpa' who picked me up from the school gate. It became even more apparent that my situation was different from others when there was a brief pause, a millisecond where people would piece together that this older man, was the father of a 12-year-old. And, as I entered my teenage years and became more sensitive to how I was perceived by others – I began to experience a sense of shame in relation to my dad’s age. 

I felt anger towards him for choosing to have me in his 50s, knowing that he would inevitably leave me behind sooner than I wanted him to go. The anger and discomfort of having a father with pronounced wrinkles, greying hair and a slower, elderly pace, lingered well into adulthood. I knew my dad’s age had nothing to do with his ability to be an incredible dad, yet the feelings of embarrassment persisted and weighed on me.

I convinced myself that had he been younger, he would be around forever. I developed a sense of resentment towards him for making me feel like he was constantly going to go. I hated that he looked old. But, as my mum would kindly remind me – death doesn’t just come for the old.


Alisa with her dad and mum. Image: Supplied.

Many people have bright young fathers, that are snatched from their lives tragically before they can even walk. Some have never had the chance to know their dads, while others are completely estranged from theirs. In contrast – I was a lucky one. My dad was here, he was kind, and he loved me dearly. 

Although my dad's time with me is limited –  he has been an unwavering presence in my life. He is encouraging, warm and loving. He remained active well into his 70s and only in recent years, have I really felt his age. He nurtured my passions and encouraged me to see the world. He made sure to attend every milestone –  every birthday and graduation; he was there, proud. And, while he can’t be there now because he lives in a nursing home, every time I visit I am reminded of his unwavering love. Over time, my anger dissipated, and instead, I am filled with anticipatory grief as my dad approaches the end of his life.


At times, knowing that my dad is nearing the end of his life weighs heavily on me, yet paradoxically, I also feel a deep sense of gratitude and contentment for having had him as my dad.

Robert De Niro's recent fatherhood at the age of 79 doesn’t make me uncomfortable. I don’t feel disgust, that he is better suited for the role of grandfather, than a parent. Instead, I feel a sense of sadness for the newborn child who will face a hard truth at a young age –  that the time their dad has with them is limited. Each birthday and milestone will carry an added significance that most people won’t understand – that this may be the last one that they share together.

Did you know we have a whole family-focussed community you can join on Facebook for more discussions like this? Join the Mamamia Family Facebook group and follow Mamamia Family on Instagram and tell us what #parentinglookslike for you!

Feature Image: Supplied/Getty.

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