Women typically are viewed as being more anxious than men when it comes to settling down and having children. Concerns about decreased fertility levels lead them to keep a watchful eye on their biological clocks. But some men increasingly feel their biological clocks ticking, too.
William Barnes, 44, is single and lives in Hollywood, Fla. Hardworking and conscientious, he works for a university as a computer technician specialist by day and pursues acting gigs at night. He has appeared in several August Wilson stage presentations and a few commercials. His other interests include sports and women.
Barnes admits that his bachelor lifestyle has served him well until recently when he started to think about settling down and having a child.
“All my life I’ve been the one, and having marriage and kids just didn’t match for me,” he said. “As I’ve gotten older, a little more seasoned, I realize it’s not limiting yourself, but rather enhancing your life with a family.”
In 2004, 73.2 million children under age 18 lived in American households, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Most of these children, 70 percent, lived with two parents and 87 percent lived with their biological mother and father. Among black children, 38 percent lived with two parents.
Barnes’ coworker, Lance Hunt, is 33 and also single. Although Hunt has not gone as far to declare that he will never marry or have children, he’s been deliberate in his approach to holy matrimony and diapers.
“I think society has made it more acceptable to wait longer,” he said. “I want to be in the most stable situation that I can” before marrying and starting a family. “I know that’s something that may or may not happen.”
Jeff Gardere, a psychologist who appears as a guest commentator of morning and daytime talk shows, also hosts the VH1 reality show, Dad Camp. The show attempts to transform six irresponsible soon-to-be dads into respectable fathers.
Gardere said that he doesn’t find it unusual that more men are expressing their desire to have children as they get older. He does caution that “procreation” doesn’t happen as easily for older men who have lower sperm counts. Himself the father of four children, Gardere, 54, says he intends to have at least “two to three more.”
“I love children. I think that it’s a gift from God to put great people on this planet.”
Rosario Slack, a trainer, consultant and speaker who specializes in parenting and family issues, believes that men who delay marriage and children simply haven’t come to terms with their true selves.
“Look deeper into what’s going on,” said Slack, who holds a doctoral degree from Interdenominational Theological Center at the Atlanta University Center. Excuses such as a lack of money or not wanting to give up the good life aren’t always true.
“A lot of guys are still boys and have not come to the point where they want to give up the dating life,” he said.
Slack should know. When he married his wife, Dr. Angela Smith — Slack, a Chattanooga, Tenn. pediatrician, until age 37. That was 18 years ago and the couple now have three children ages 14, 12 and 8.
“I had my first child at 40 and my career took off,” he said. “I’ve accomplished more in the past 18 years because I have a woman to report to. She is not going to allow me to do certain things. As a wife, she didn’t buy my lines; she bought me.”
Barnes, the computer tech and actor, insists that he has no regrets for the life that he chose which allowed him to obtain advanced degrees and live in several states. Having accomplished most of his goals, with the exception of landing a role in a major film, he says his current “9-5” lifestyle could easily accommodate a child.
He agrees with Slack that men must be honest with themselves before taking on serious responsibilities such as marriage and children.
“I’ve slowed down in hanging out and trying to holler at women,” said Barnes. “If the end result of that is me finding someone and having children, then the possibilities are endless.”