Women are “delaying” motherhood, or so the headlines would lead you to believe. And yet it takes two to tango if you’re hoping to conceive naturally.
When ONS data released earlier this year revealed a record number of women do not have children by the time they reach 30, the debate that ensued was a little skewed, to say the least.
Radio hosts questioned whether it was careers, the cost of living, or a desire for post-pandemic fun that was motivating women to have children later in life. The role of men in all this barely got a look-in.
But the chat did spark an interesting conversation with a friend of mine who, despite his impending 30th birthday, revealed that nobody had ever asked him about his views on fatherhood. Ever.
And actually, it might benefit us all if guys talked about this stuff, too.
Though there is one scientific study into male attitudes on fatherhood that’s periodically bandied around, we seldom hear men talking about this topic in the media – or even everyday life.
So to redress the balance, I asked a bunch of guys under 30 to share their feelings about parenthood. Here’s what they had to say:
“Being a father is just very exciting. It’s not about having that title, but rather being proud to do the things involved, have that responsibility of caring and loving for a child. We knew there would never be a ‘perfect time’, and given we were settled and agreed on having them down the line, we didn’t want to put it off any longer. It’s still bloody terrifying, but good things are usually. ” – Ben Rogers (a new father), 29, South London
“I’m getting married next year and I think some family will expect us to have children soon. Personally, I’d rather wait five or six years and travel / enjoy married life first. ” – Miles, 29, Hertfordshire
“As a 23-year-old with a business that will soon be turning over six figures, the thought of having a child is something that I’ve mentally delayed even thinking about until my mid-thirties as my friends that have children have had their careers put on hold and are now struggling financially. ” – Ted Lawlor, 23, South London
“To be comfortable being a dad I’d need 1) to be genuinely be very much in love with the woman, and expect to happily spend the rest of my life with her 2) have a house with enough room and 3) be generally financially stable enough given childcare costs. Due to my financial situation, I was living with my parents until my mid 20s, I think it is very hard to think about having children when living in your parents’ house. ” – Sam, 27, Surrey
“I definitely want to be a father one day. The newly born period doesn’t appeal – sleepless nights, nappies etc – but when they can walk and talk I think it would be great fun being a dad! I would have had no issue being a young dad if it had happened. ” – Jack, 29, London
“The thought of having children right now whilst I’m not settled down is a scary thought. I feel like it’s a huge responsibility that I’m not ready for yet! I want to make my stamp on the world before I bring my children into it and that’s my main focus. ” – Harry Portch, 23, Reading
“Honestly? I haven’t thought about it much yet. Maybe one day, but I don’t feel the urgency yet or anything. ” – Elliot, 28, Newcastle
“I’m not sure I want to be a father. But my partner is almost a decade older than me, and it means we’re grappling with a biological clock long before I expected to. We’re sensitive people who like their quiet, and worry about being consumed by childcare and regretting it. We both grew up in tense, angry households and are wary of either losing our peace or inflicting our own stress on any children. We also hate the idea of having kids out of custom or expectation when we’re unsure if it’s for us. But the prospect of missing our chance to do it biologically – especially when all her friends are having kids – is difficult, too. ” – Joe, 27, London
“I’m 24 with a very stable career in the medical industry and a girlfriend that I adore, so for me, I can’t wait to have a child! My girlfriend and I have a plan to save money specifically with the child in mind so that we’re fully prepared for the magical moment. ” – Jake Hanley, 24, Kent
“The earlier I have kids, the longer I’ll be around for them and my grandkids, but the cost of living and housing means this is being pushed down the road. It’s an increasingly unrealistic reality to enjoy seeing kids and grandkids grow up through life. ” – Jonny Abbott, 23, Oxfordshire
“I’m equally as terrified of not having kids as I am of having kids. Knowing men who are involuntarily childless, the pain they have gone through is indescribable. Public broodiness in men is very stigmatised so I’m not surprised men aren’t willing to talk about it. I hope that changes. ” – Freddie, 27, London
* Some surnames have been omitted to offer anonymity