Daddy’s Got a Clock too!

The surprising ticks of the male biological clock.


I have a confession to make. It is something that I have been thinking about inadvertently in my down time while daydreaming. I am in my late twenties and I am trying to finish college and get my career off the ground. I have a plan, and am very determined to see it through. But every time I entertain this idea, it scares me because I realize the magnitude of what it means.

It all began one day at a friend’s house. We were all playing with a friend’s 2-year old son, who I swear is the cutest kid I have ever met. We were playing a game where he karate chops us and we pretend to get knocked out. He laughs uproariously every time as it’s the funniest thing he has ever seen and it probably is; he is only 2 and hasn’t seen Aziz Ansari’s stand up yet. We were all hanging out and shooting the breeze when out of nowhere I slipped into a daydream of parental proportions.

I was playing with a child of my own. Her name was Evie and she was running around the house, laughing and playing tag with me. And then we were at a Lakers game and she was wearing a cute little baby jersey and eating popcorn. “I want a kid,” I thought to myself. “It would be so amazing to have one.”

That stream of consciousness triggered a fail safe in my brain that snapped me back to reality, leaving me frightened at the words I had just thought to myself. What was I thinking? I don’t want that! I’m nowhere near ready for a kid. They are so much responsibility and I haven’t even gotten my career off the ground yet. But something about it felt so right. My mind and my heart were at odds with each other. It was like my psyche was playing out that classic R Kelly jam, “My mind is telling me no. But my body. My body… is telling me yes!”

I tried to explain this to my peers, who are a couple of years younger. They stared blankly at me. I wracked my brain searching for answers. Is this normal? Is my body supposed to feel this at a certain age?
I thought it was only women who had the urge to have a baby due to their biological clock ticking.

As it turns out, women aren’t the only ones who get baby fever. A 2011 Kansas State University study conducted by Gary and Sandra Brase explored the phenomena known as baby fever. Brase and his wife asked 80 college students of varying ages to rate how frequently they had a desire to have children, and then administered a test that assessed how strongly they affiliated with particular gender roles.

The data was analyzed and the Brase’s found that the sociocultural view was not a great predictor of how strongly people felt a desire to have children. “Baby fever is this idea in popular media that at some point in their lives, people get this sudden change in their desire to have children,” said Gary Brase.

“While it is often portrayed in women, we noticed it in men, too.”

Alright, so it wasn’t just me. I don’t feel like such a freak now. But some guys have to know what I’m talking about. Maybe I was just asking the wrong age group. Most of the people I asked were under 25, and this did just begin happening to me about a year ago. It was time to ask other men closer to my age group.

Graham Muckenfuss, a 26-year old broadcast journalism major at Mt. SAC, knew exactly what I was going through. Like me, he too has a plan for his life that he is in the middle of realizing. And just like me, his mind was flooded with a baby fever daydream that he just couldn’t shake.

“I was just thinking about nothing, and I started having thoughts about what it would be like to have a kid. They were really pleasant thoughts. I started thinking about taking the kid to the zoo and to the park and to Six Flags Magic Mountain and stuff like that. It was just a really warm thought and feeling. It was such a pleasant experience in my mind.”

He paused, and said, “Then I snapped out of it. What the fuck? I don’t want to have a kid. I don’t want kids. I don’t want anything to do with children. I don’t like children, they bother me.”

While the Brase’s study’s most important finding is that baby fever does exist and in both genders, how frequently the desire for a baby occurred varied with gender. Women more frequently desired having a child than having sex while men more frequently desired sex than having a child.

No surprise there. But what is more interesting is the reasoning behind why people get this feeling in the first place. The Brase’s narrowed the causes down to three theories. The first is the sociocultural. According to this view, gender roles are the predominant factor in wanting to have a child. Society tells women throughout their lives that they should have a baby, so they have a baby. Society tells men that they are supposed to be bread winners and make their family happy. But if you don’t have a family, then there is no one to win bread for.

The next is the byproduct view. When you have a baby, you experience something called nurturance. You see your baby and you want to take care of it. The byproduct view is what happens when you experience nurturance with someone else’s baby. You see parents bonding with their baby or playing with their baby, and you want to care for their baby. This often results in you wanting your own baby

The last view that potentially makes us want to make babies is the adaptionist view. Essentially, your brain or something inside you tells you its time to make a baby at a certain age. Most people believe that this is the reason for baby fever by default, as there is nothing they can point to as the reason. They think it must be coming from somewhere inside of them.

But while it varies from person to person, the byproduct view seems to be the view that most who experience baby fever identify under. The U.S. News and World Report’s Anna Medaris Miller followed up with the Brase’s as they continued to research this phenomena. The Brase’s conducted a poll on twitter by asking people to tweet their baby fever feelings and memories.

“By evaluating nearly 500 tweets with the hashtag #babyfever, he and his students found that​ people often tweeted about baby fever after being around babies,” said Medaris.

For me, it also began when I was playing with my friends first child. Why does no one tell us that this is something that happens to men at a certain point in life? Doctors and parents tell us about puberty and all the funny shit that happens when you hit it, as well as the not so funny shit that happens when you get older. And it is a genuinely terrifying feeling when it first happens. It’s as if there is a version of yourself that you have never met before. We all have a collection of ourselves that are stored inside us that come out at different times. I’m not schizo, I swear. It’s a karaoke party inside our psyche and everyone gets a turn at the mic when the moment feels right. But in comes this new guy who no one invited and scares the bejesus out of you with his baby talk and settling down.

“As guys, we don’t show our feelings as much. We kind of ignore them. So it’s not something that’s talked about that much because guys don’t want be like, ‘Oh man, I have been thinking about how wonderful it would be to have a baby!’ It’s not something you’re going to hear a guy say,” Muckenfuss said.

I think that the term biological clock has a different meaning for men than it does for women. Women have a set amount of time before the eggs they carry can no longer produce so they feel the urge to have a baby before it is too late. Women have an actual time frame when their body can safely produce an offspring. The men I spoke with on the other hand, have different motivations to beat their manufactured ‘biological clock.’

Not wanting to be an old dad when you have your kids is a very real thing. Personally, I want to give my children the best years of me. I want to have the energy to keep up with them and be able to go surfing or hiking or partake in other athletic endeavors with them as they are growing up.

Muckenfuss explained it another way.

“I think your 30s is about right. I think our window is pretty small. You want to be on your own in your 20s, or at least not have children to take care of. But then you don’t want to be too old with kids either. You don’t want to be going to parent teacher conferences when you’re 60.”

So, men in your 20s, listen up since no one else is telling us about this. There could be a moment you have where out of the blue,when you will want to have a child. Do not panic or run for the hills when you see a baby and feel something. It is normal. It doesn’t mean you have to have a child right now. It’s just a small case of the baby fever.