Tim Belford: Short Takes On Life
Tim Belford
Tim Belford
CBC logo
Tim Belford is host of Quebec A.M. -- CBC Radio's popular English- language morning show (91.7 FM, 6-9, Mon.-Fri). He also is said to know a thing or three about wine.

Posted 03.06.07
Quebec City


Attention aging breeders, better that you don't

Quebec has, according to popular belief, the best day-care system in the country.

We also have the top parental leave program in North America.

And now, Action Democratique leader Mario Dumont wants to give parents a hundred bucks a week for each kiddy they keep at home rather than in day-care.

Let's face it, it's time to jump on the paternity bandwagon.

With cash and time-off awards way better than any frequent flier program, it's nothing short of every Quebecer's duty to get out there and procreate.

But therein lies my problem.

Just as Dumont was offering the latest inducement for a twenty-first century version of the Revenge of the Cradle a new book came out.

It's written by one Harry Fisch.

Mr. Fisch is the director of the Male Reproduction Center at NY - Presbyterian Hospital, Columbia University Medical Center.

And he single-handedly put a damper on the whole thing.

According to the good Mr. Fisch, I can forget getting in on the reproduction gravy train because - and there's no nice way to put this - I'm past my best before date.

That's right. According to his book, The Male biological Clock,I'm like that carton of milk stuck in the back of your fridge dated January 2: Safe to have around but don't even think of using it.

Now, we've always known women have a biological clock. It's just a fact of life.

After menopause, conception - unless you get the assistance of a scientist in an Italian or Brazilian laboratory - is just not on.

But now, says Mr. Fisch, there's increasing evidence that men should give up dreams of daddyhood - and the ADQ cash bonanza as well - when they hit their middle to late forties.

There's a couple of good reasons to give up what is called "this cavalier attitude&qot; to putting off parenthood.

First, by the time you hit forty, fertility levels are diminishing.

This doesn't apparently apply to actors. Anthony Quinn, Tony Randall, and Cary Grant are just three names that come to mind. Each managed to produce offspring well into their seventies.

But even if you're still firing on all cylinders, the simple fact is you shouldn't.

According to recent studies, the risk of birth defects grows with age.

More to the point, think of the child.

How many kids want to have dad show up at the minor soccer championships only to watch him felled when an errant ball knocks his walker out from under him.

I suppose the upside would be some of the mutual activities a child and a dad in his dotage could share

Nap time could be a group activity. And it would be so much easier to demonstrate proper dental hygiene if dad could just pop out his upper plate and use it as a visual aide.

Mind you, is it really worth a hundred bucks a week to put up with the terrible twos at a time in life when running for a bus leaves you out of breath?

And can you imagine coping with a teenager when her idea of body piercing deals with the pros and cons of a navel ring and your's involves the upside of a permanent hearing implant?

Nope. Even if my biological clock wasn't closing in on midnight, I think I'd give Mr. Dumont's offer, as enticing as it may be, a pass.