Bob’s (Not) Your Uncle

So, at the ripe old age of 79, Robert de Niro has become a father again. Cradling her newborn in New York City, his partner Tiffany Chen – a mere whippet of a thing at 45 – attracted much cooing from celebrity pals. De Niro’s About My Father co-stars Sebastian Maniscalco and Kim Cattrall are thrilled for the pair.

‘Tiffany is such a beautiful woman,’ said Cattrall. ‘ … gorgeous and sweet.’

‘God bless ’im,’ said Maniscalco, of the joyous new dad. ‘He’s a very soft-spoken individual who loves to spend time with his family and I’m happy for him,’ he added.

Since when did being soft spoken become a criterion for procreating the human race? De Niro’s approaching his ninth decade, for goodness’ sake.

I’m sorry, but I find the whole thing rather distasteful.

It’s not as if he needs more offspring – he already has six children by three other women. And he probably won’t live long enough to be remembered by this child, let alone have the energy to engage in the kind of activities young kids need. What’s the best he’s going to be able to offer? A hobble around Central Park?

De Niro says that the baby was ‘planned.’ Well, that makes it worse. Yes, a baby is a wonderful thing and no one woman should be denied that if it is what she truly wants – which Chen clearly did. But let’s be honest here about De Niro, who is effectively choosing to bring what will be a fatherless child into the world. It’s an act of pure selfishness.

What will be the legacy of father to child? Money. And a memory of the guy who was never quite as good as Al Pacino in The Godfather II. Thanks, Dad.

The adulation being showered upon De Niro also highlights the complete hypocrisy in relation to the way people perceive older fathers as opposed to older mothers. Naomi Campbell had a baby – reportedly by surrogate – at 51 and was universally admonished for it. Likewise, Hilary Swank,  who welcomed twins at 48.

Campbell will be 80 when her child is a 30-year-old adult. De Niro would be 110 – or, as is most likely, six feet under.

But it’s one rule for women and another for men.

Richard Gere was 70 when he welcomed his second son – and, as with De Niro, there was a chorus of adulation of the ‘Yay! He’s still got it!’ variety, as there always is with older fathers.

For women, nature has a way of telling you when enough’s enough – it’s called a biological clock. But there are no such restrictions with men, among whom the attitude is, If the swimmers are still going, it’s nature’s way of telling you to carry on.

Is it, though? Male fertility peaks at around 25-29 years old, but as men grow older, the number of mutations in their genome increases, leading to a greater risk of congenital malformations in their offspring. Basically: the chromatin – the genetic material – might become fragmented, leading to problems.

Potentially harmful effects of advanced paternal age are a baby’s risk of prematurity, low birth weight, a low Apgar score (the test used to determine how well the baby handled the birthing process), and a risk of seizures.

Increasing paternal age has also shown to increase the incidence of other disorders like autism, schizophrenia, bipolar disorders and childhood leukemia in the progeny.

Oh yes, as well as the mother’s chance of developing gestational diabetes. Again, thanks, Dad.

What are these men trying to prove? Are they competing for Stud of the Century, defined by their ability to produce the greatest number of kids?

Mick Jagger has eight children, the eldest being 52, the youngest – born when Jagger was 73 – six.

Alec Baldwin is 65 and has seven with his wife Hilaria (the youngest was born in September last year). In a recent Instagram post, he wrote about them, saying: ‘Seven reasons to carry on during tough time.’ People were quick to point out that he’d forgotten his eighth child, Ireland, who he had with Kim Basinger. Well, it’s easily done.

Nick Cannon is 42 and already has 12 children. He recently claimed he has ‘super sperm’ and has managed to get women pregnant, despite using birth control. Heck, he’s probably had another one in the time it’s taking you to read this. On the Howard Stern show, he too recently left out one of his children when, after being asked to name his kids, he managed to remember only 11.

Come on, guys. When you can’t even remember the names of the children you’ve fathered, isn’t it time to stop? Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should, all because it boosts your male ego.

Here’s a message to all you rampant silver foxes: the only example you’re setting with your super swimmers is one that highlights your fragile egos.

Think on what De Niro’s character Lorenzo Anello says in A Bronx Tale: ‘Sometimes, in the heat of passion, the little head tells the big head what to do, and the big head should think twice about what you are doing.’

Think twice, guys. And keep it in your pants.