Men Want Kids

Ten or 20 years ago a couple’s decision on when to have children was usually made by the woman in the partnership, but no longer. Gen X men – those born between 1964 and 1975 – are changing all that.

While their father’s generation tended to sacrifice family time for their careers, the generation personified by Hollywood stars Brad Pitt and Benjamin Bratt are much more committed to finding balance and making time for families, according to new research.

As is well known to anyone who reads entertainment news, Brad broke up with wife Jennifer Aniston, and Benjamin ended his marriage to Julia Roberts over the issue of children.

Sexiest Dad Alive

Both actors were up front about stating their wish for a family, and both the women wanted a bit more career time before raising children.

Pitt, 45, was twice named People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive, in 1995 and 2000. He had publicly talked about wanting kids almost since the couple married in July 2000. But Aniston, 41, reportedly wanted to focus on her movie career after the 10-year run of her NBC sitcom, Friends, ended.

The differing priorities are understandable, says Michael Kimmel, a sociology professor at the State University of New York-Stony Brook with expertise in gender issues.

Career Obstacle or Enhancer

“Having children is an enormous career obstacle for women and a career enhancer for men,” Kimmel said. “Brad knows that it’s no obstacle for guys to have families. It makes them cooler and hipper and sexier. But for women, it could be the kiss of death for their careers.”

It was the same story with the breakup in 2001 of Julia Roberts and Benjamin Bratt after four years.

Bratt, then 37, wanted children, and Roberts, then 33, didn’t. It didn’t take long for Bratt to meet a like-minded woman and marry in April 2002.

Before his daughter’s birth that December, Bratt was quoted as saying, “It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to be a father, and it’s coming to fruition.”

Roberts, 37, is now the mother of twins, joining a host of late-thirtyish actresses who have temporarily traded the movie set for the diaper set.

Women Wait Longer

“Women are taking their time today,” says Pamela Madsen of the American Fertility Association. “They’re waiting longer to have children. They want to have their careers first, and they want to be established first.”

Still, Madsen says, that delay “does compromise their fertility,” which sometimes worries men who are concerned about waiting and racing the woman’s biological clock.

That desire to balance work and family life is supported by research conducted for Catalyst, an independent nonprofit organization aimed at expanding opportunities for women at work.

Family Important To Men

Men born between 1964 and 1975 place a much higher importance on personal and family goals, says Paulette Gerkovich, senior director of research.

Seventy-nine percent said it was extremely important to have a loving family; 62 percent said it was important to share companionship. Only 27 percent said it was important to earn a great deal of money and become well known, she says.

“Gen X men are less willing to make some of the sacrifices and trade-offs between work and family that their predecessors did,” Gerkovich says.

Older Dads

Although a list of post-40 and post-50 first-time fathers gets notoriety when those dads are David Letterman or Tony Randall, men are thinking more about what limitations their age might place on their relationship with their children, says dating adviser Rochelle Adams, who offers advice for Yahoo Personals.

“Any man who really does have a sense of wanting to be a father hits a point where he starts thinking about how old he’s going to be when the kid is 10 and 16.”

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