Jeffrey Tambor: Parenthood ‘Not for the Selfish’

11/14/2010 at 02:00 PM ET
Frazer Harrison/Getty

Those who would judge late-in-life dad Jeffrey Tambor, rest assured — the Arrested Development star, 66, is unfazed by the criticism.

“First of all, the people who write those things on the Internet are not rocket scientists for the most part. They’re writing it at 3 in the morning with little if anything else to do,” the dad-of-five tells Babble.

“If I counted on the sensitivity of the Internet public, I would be in trouble. Otherwise, you just go on. I don’t know what else to do.”

Still, Tambor says even he has a tipping point when it comes to the dubious reactions of strangers upon learning that twins Hugo Bernard and Eli Nicholas, 13 months, are his children — and not his grandchildren.

“It happens hourly,” he laments, citing one recent case of mistaken identity at a check-up with the boys’ pediatrician.

“Hey look, I’m old! I’m 66, so why wouldn’t someone say that?,” he asks. “My only problem is when I say, ‘Yeah, I’m their father,’ and they go, ‘Oh, come on.’ That’s when my blood pressure goes up a little tiny bit.”

His advancing age — while “not a scare” — is “certainly a thought” which Tambor has often. “I want to spend as much time as I can with my kids,” he explains. “I want to live as long as I can to help them and mentor them and witness their travels.”

With that said, Tambor considers himself “lucky” to have the twins, daughter Eve Julia, 3½, son Gabriel Kasper, 4½, and adult daughter Molly — a teacher of European history — in his life and calls it a “privilege” to be an older dad.

“It’s not for the meek and it’s not for the selfish,” he muses. “It teaches you to give and give and give and give.”

“I’ve been thrown a great, great game here,” he adds. “This is good. This is nothing to worry about.”

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Mari Mari Quite Contrary on

What a marvelous attitude – good for him!

I’ve always admired him as an actor…and he seems like a darn fine father. His children will learn a lot from him. Correction. They already have. 😀

Maria on

That’s just gross and selfish. 66 year olds should NOT be new parents. If it were the other way around and a 66 yr old mother was having a baby, people would freak out and judge her non-stop. Just because men continue producing sperm until they die, doesn’t mean they should have children.

Male infertility is more common than some people think…A man’s sperm count starts greatly decreasing after about 25 years of age (doctors say a man is most fertile between 18-22!). So just because this guy happens to be fertile enough to impregnate a woman, does not mean it is natural or healthy. The chances of a child of old parents being born with defects is fairly high and I don’t know why someone would want to take the chance.

He won’t be alive to see his kid’s grow and that is just selfish. My father was 44 1/2 when I was born, and I felt like I had a grandfather for a father. It was very painful for me to see him age so much while my friend’s parents were still youthful. It makes me sad to know he won’t be around to meet his grandchildren.

Just imagine how this guy’s kids will feel…

zebraremovals on

With so many bad parents in the world if the only apparent drawback he has is age, then, I’m sure his children will be fine.

He has a great wealth of knowledge and experience to pass onto to his children and ( so I’m told) with age comes patience.

So many children grow up missing one or even both parents completely and they are fine so I can’t see any problem with Mr. Tambour’s age.

Damn fine actor too!

Janna on

“…the people who write those things on the Internet are not rocket scientists for the most part. They’re writing it at 3 in the morning with little if anything else to do.”

LOL! What a great attitude! And Maria, way to prove his point!

Heck, I know I wouldn’t have kids when I’m 66 (like Jeffrey), but then again, I won’t raise my kids in a violent religion (like some Muslims), won’t raise my daughters to believe that they’re second class citizens (like Catholics), won’t let my children believe that material things are important, or that it’s ok to bully other kids, or that gay people are deviants.

That’s what’s great about America! Too each his own! Live and let live!

Lilianne on

“If I counted on the sensitivity of the Internet public, I would be in trouble. Otherwise, you just go on. I don’t know what else to do.”

Maria, you just proved his point with your comments and opinions. You can state how you feel about it, certainly, but do you HAVE to be mean and insensitive about it?

Catherine on

Wow, Janna, those are some ignorant comments! Do you know ALL Muslims and Catholics, to be able to assess that judgment? No true practicing Catholic “would raise daughters to believe that they’re second class citizens.” Please do some research before you make blanket accusations about 2 of the largest and practiced religions in the world.

Mira on

Maria’s comment is quite educated, actually. In fact, I think it illustrates that his attempt at insulting his critics was much weaker than his sperm count. LOL.

Hope he lives long enough at least for these kids to finish high school.

Lilianne on

Hmm..calling a 66 year old father gross and selfish is educated? Could you please explain how you can find it to be so, Mira?

Sonya on

Wow Janna! Talk about an ignorant, uneducated and insulting comment:-(

I on

Janna-your comments are ignorant and hateful. Islam is not a ‘violent religion’ and Catholics don’t consider their daughters to be second class citizens. What on earth are you going on about?

Do you really think that a handful of Muslims who perpetrate violent acts are representative of the world’s billion-plus Muslim population? Your argument defies logic and reality.

If this is what you’re going to impart to your children, I hope they’re smart enough to call you out on your crap and not be prejudiced, bigoted human beings.

Signed, an offended Muslim

Lisa on

Janna, what a rude, ignorant, hatefull, prejudice comment. I’m catholic and I’m offended. I have no idea what the hell u r talking about. You sound like u live in a small little world somewhere in BFE. You need a reality check big time, and I feel so sorry for your kids. You r a racist.

Sarah on

I don’t believe that a 66 year old would want to bring a child or children into this world knowing that they won’t be with them for a very long time after they are born. I know that people might think I am selfish for saying this, but I believe the person is not thinking of the little one they are bringing into this world! I just felt like I had to get this off of my chest and say something! But really, who cares about how I think, I know that.

Erin on

Jeffrey is awesome! Love what he had to say. And why is it that nobody comes undone about teenage parenthood the way they do about older people having kids? Everyone wants to give Bristol Palin a medal for not having an abortion – that’s as much flak as she’s received. MTV dedicates most of their air time to celebrating immature, selfish, violent, unemployed, uneducated jerks who have procreated before it’s legal to sign a contract, join the military, drink a beer or make their own medical decisions.

Yes, being an older parent presents complications, no doubt. But most who make the choice at that age to raise kids certainly have the wisdom, experience and dedication to ensuring their children have a bright future (even if it means daddy wont be around to celebrate their 50th with them!). Check in on Jeffrey’s kids in twenty years. Then check in on the MTV crew’s kids. I think it’s a safe bet as to who’s going to send a solid, capable citizen into the world.

jessicad on

I love what he said about the hateful internet posters! If I was a celebrity I wouldn’t be able to keep my mouth shut about the hateful bullying that goes on here.

He gave his children life and obviously loves them very much, they are lucky to have their father around. The father of my child is 30 years old and hasn’t called to ask about his daughter in over a year, so any man who is involved and loving is not selfish in my opinion.

Anonymous on

maria, I’m confused… are you saying that your father shouldn’t have had you? sounds like your choice was either to not be born, or to have an older father. And you say you were embarrassed of him due to his age, which seems to be more important to you than having a loving supportive father in your life. many people never get to experience that at all and would be happy to have a father at all… older or not.

Calling Jeffrey selfish is backward to me… if anything he is being selfless… giving his wife babies to be with her after he is gone and to be siblings to his other children. He also has more than enough money to financially support them and he plenty of time to spend with them at this point in his life, whereas many children have little time with their father’s because of how much they work.

Even if Jeffrey is able to spend 20 years with them, I imagine that he will make the absolute best of that time. These kids would not even have lives if he decided not to have them due to his age.

Erika on

Janna- what are you even talking about? What does religion even have to do with this? Your stereotypes are very wrong and hurtful.

Anyway, I’m sure it is harder to be a parent at an older age but I’m sure he is still a great father. A baby is a blessing, no matter how old the parents are.

Luna on

Janna- Of all the comments I have ever read on here, I really do think yours was one of the most insulting of all time. It insulted so many people one claims that are so untrue. I am Catholic and in no way do we teach our daughters that they are second class. I am not Muslim, and therefore cannot speak from firsthand experience, but everyone I’ve met who is Muslim does not seem violent. In fact, I’m pretty sure they’re peaceful. I think Jeffery is giving his children something far more valuable than a lot of time and that’s wisdom. Kudos to him.

Lisa on

I just want to add that there is No guarantee on anyone’s life!! He is 66, but he might live another 20 plus years or so. Whereas, someone who just had a baby at the age of 22 could easily die in an accident at any time leaving the child at a young age. So saying that he is selfish for having a child at an old age is ignorant. People die from accidents all the time. Kids loose their parents all the time at all diff ages.

kazumi on

Maria and Mira are from the stone age. Yeah, you might have a point that he might not live long enough to see his children grow up and be with them all the time, it was also the first thought that came to mind, but then the again, at his age, he doesn’t have to work so hard any more in order to provide for his family, unlike many of the young parents nowadays, who still need to establish themselves, it means spending time away from your kids, whether it be your choice or not. But for this “old guy”, he will be able to spend more of his time with the kids and family because he already has stability.

and your comments are not educated at all, calling a man “gross” for his age is like reading a comment from an eight year old.

Sara on

Good for him! He seems to have a great attitude about it.

I don’t think I personally could have kids later in life (I am having them young and then am done! LOL! But that is just myself and my personal preference. I don’t judge others choices on when to have kids.

lil on

Janna, you are an idiot. I don’t know what religion your parents are, but they raised a real uneducated loser.

Cait13 on

janna, your claims about Muslims and Catholics are offensive and frankly unwarranted. Islam does not teach violence and catholics do not raise their daughters to be second class citizens. i was raised catholic, and am catholic for the matter, and i was always taught all humans are equal. i was told to work hard for whatever my goals in life are and never let anyone tell me that i am less than them. i am a college student and am taking an introduction to Islam course and there is no place in Islam for violence. the teachings are peaceful, at least from the amount i have learned in the past few months.

i think you should really look back to what you said and ask yourself if you really believe in those words. if you do, you should learn to be less ignorant and not to judge others based on a handful of people stating they are a part of the group you are prejudiced against. saying Muslims are violent is off base and shows your little knowledge of the religion.

east mom on

I think Jeffrey Tambor is a great dad regardless of his age. He’s a great actor too and I think he’s super funny.

And to Janna: I am offended by your statement about Muslims and Catholics. Do not brush the billions and millions of the adherents to these faiths with whatever bigoted, ugly, tainted brush you’re holding. Stop being taken in by media headlines and whatever tv news you’re watching because seriously, the world is much, much, bigger than you think.

Yes, I am a Muslim living in Asia (and did you know the most number of Muslims are OUTSIDE Middle-East? *cue mock horror here*). And contrary to whatever prejudices you have, and unlike the tiny % of them who are terrorists etc, pretty much most of us wake up in the morning NOT wanting to destroy people and buildings because we want to get to our jobs, raise our kids, run our homes and pay our taxes and to just…SURVIVE. You know, like you. Surprised yet?

Rose on

If Jeffrey has said he doesn’t care about what people think and leave it that I would have respected his answer a lot more. But he’s being a hypocrite by hurling insults at the very people he claims are insulting him. He obvious does care what people think or he wouldn’t feel the need to respond in such a hostile way.

Mira on

I’m not Maria’s lawyer, but most of the posters attacking her lack basic analytical skills. Stating a value judgment (“gross and selfish”) clearly requires no education. But knowing the science about the links between male fertility, age, and the risk for birth defects does reflect a level of knowledge that most of you appear to lack. The chances of the average 66-year-old being alive 20 years from now are dramatically lower than the chances of a 20-30-40-year-old. If you don’t realize this simple point, you really need to go back to school.

I’m floored by Janna’s comment, though. Prejudiced statements about religion are common on forums. What is mind-boggling is her statement that the existence of bigoted and hateful people, who supposedly do all those things she says, is what makes America great. Hahaha, Janna, did you seriously want to say that?

Emma on

I do think in some ways for some people it is irresponsible to become a father at 66, but hopefully his wife is a lot younger so if he does die before the kids are adults, she will still be alive and healthy (and I assume wealthy) enough to raise them by herself as a single mother.

I am a nurse and I see soooo many people in their 60-70s who were healthy have strokes, heart attacks, cancer etc. As healthy a lifestyle as they lead the health risks increase dramatically when you get older.
I hope he stays at healthy as he is now, but I do see the point of Maria.

My Dad’s Dad was 45 when he was born and he always felt his Dad was an old Dad and so himself had his 3 children before he was 35.

My friend’s Dad was 50 when he was born, and 55 when he died of cancer. He is now a Dad at 27 as he wants to be there for his kids.

Hea on

I just can’t find senior citizens as new parents normal. I’m sure he’s a great dad but he’s very likely be dead or senile before his kids have completely spread their wings. When parents age and become senile or have a stroke (which is sadly very common), kids often have to take on a parental role and I would wish that on nobody, especially not my own kids at a young age.

Janna – Was your high school situated under a large rock and did you skip class much?

Sarah on

I have had the privilege of meeting Jeffrey Tambor and he was one of the kindest people I have ever met. He appears to be a great father, and who cares if he is 66? As long as he is a good father, than that is all that matters.

kristie on

So, Maria-would you have preferred your 44-1/2 year old dad to have not helped to create you?

No one knows how long they will live. My friend’s husband died at the hospital after helping to deliver his 3rd child. They ruled his death natural causes. He was 30 years old.

Charlotte on

I love his attitude towards fatherhood late in life. My dad was 59 when he had me, and my entire childhood everyone asked me if I was having a good day with granddad whenever we were out. I love having a father who had me later on in life, for me everything seems pretty heightened because you know that the last portion of their life no matter how long will be spent with you, which is pretty special.

anna on

Erin, 100% agree with you about teenage pregnancies/ single parents etc. Very well put.

Astrid on

My husband’s father was 65 when my husband was born, and 86 when he died. While my husband only had 21 years with his dad, many, many children don’t have much longer than that either. My husband’s father was retired when he was born and his mother worked, so he had a lot of quality time with his father that children of young, busy and working fathers don’t get to have. What he may have missed out on in terms of quantity time with his dad, he made up for it with QUALITY time.

gdfg on

I too found Janna’s comments insulting, but everyone calling her names (loser, racist, etc.) is just as bad as she is!

ann on

I think you’re confused about something. There’s a huge difference between being a father at the age 46 or 66. And I’d prefer to have an older dad than a teenage dad to whom I could call “brother”. Sorry. Kids shouldn’t raise kids.

Agree with Jeffrey. You talk so much about freedom of speech and action, and then you use yours to bash on other people’s.

Jeanne on

Wow, Janna – way to bring on the bitterness. And I’m guessing you aren’t ANY of those religions and therefore are basing your completely false and biased comments on an outsider’s perspective. Good job keeping the sterotypes going. I sure hope my kid isn’t in class with yours someday.

Erica on

Unfortunately, Janna’s comment is the reason why so many people stereotype Americans as painfully ignorant. I’m actually embarrassed on her behalf.

Jeffrey Tambor sounds like a good father but I do find it ironic that as a 66 year old new father, he talks about how parenthood is not for the selfish.

Mira on

I find the “nobody knows how long they are going to live” statement really irritating, because it’s very stupid. Obviously, we don’t know for each individual person. But we can guess pretty safely from statistics who is likelier to be alive 20 years from now, based on their age today. Children die every day too, but you do you actually expect your kid to drop dead tomorrow? Who do you think has a greater likelihood of dying– your kid or your grandma?

I can’t believe anybody can graduate from high school without grasping this simple point.

Alice on

Agree with your last post, Mira.

I do understand why he’d be pissed though, you can be surprised he’s their dad, but actually imply that you still doubt it after he tells you is downright disrespectful.

I don’t agree with having kids that old since I too was raised by an older mom and kind of resent it but I think it also depends a lot on personality. He seems to be really into it and happy and that’s what will matter to his kids.

Erin on

Mira – first you’re a lawyer and now a statistician. You’re not seriously lobbying for teens and early twenty-somethings to start having kids are you? Because then you’d use your free speech rights to pillory those same people for being a drain on social services – which simple analysis shows they statistically are. I think we get your point about Jeffery. I know I do!

Mira on

Erin, wow! I said that 66-year-old men probably shouldn’t have children and that means I’m “advocating” that teens should have children instead? Wow. I’m speechless at the strength and logic of this argument. Way to go.

Btw, in case you didn’t know, nature intended for people to have kids in their 20s. That’s when both men and women are most fertile and it is this way for a reason.

Lilianne on

Mira, did you not get hugged enough as a child? I ask because it seems like every post I read from you is either mean, or insulting, or snarky, or just bitter. I am seriously curious to know if you EVER post anything positive, or uplifting, or kind? 🙂

Erin on

Mira – I said what I did because you mentioned a twenty year old is likely to be alive in twenty years, whereas a sixty six year old might not, ergo a twenty year old is a better candidate for parenthood than a sixty year old.

Nature intended a lot of things. Like dying at the age of forty. Longevity is largely due to scientific advances, no? So we’ve “cheated” much longer lives than if we all lived without medicine, procedures, etc. A longer life opens up new options. Like having children later than the age of thirteen – when girls are naturally able to have them. You need to be careful with the “nature intended” argument. A lot of people drivel on about “nature intended” that infertile people give up on certain dreams. Like carrying a child, or having a biologically related one. You get the drift.

And men are most fertile in their late teens. Levi Johnson – probably biologically more capable, but probably one one-hundredth the father Jeffrey is.

kristie on

Why is everyone calling him a new father? He stated that he has an adult daughter?

MiB on

I have a friend who became a single father at age 16. He is now 40 and has a 2 year old (his 3rd child) and he himself says he is a much better father now than he was at 16 when he had his 1st or at 27 when he had his 2nd, because he’s more experienced and mature now. It’s not that he wasn’t a good father to the first two, but he himself will say, that with the 1st he did a lot of things he never would have done if he had known what he knows today. Even his oldest son says that even if he was a good father to him, he could see that he is a better father now because he is more secure, mature and confident. We all joke that he has his children in 11 year cycles, and wonder if he’ll be an even better father when he has his next at 49. I guess my point is, that every age has it’s advantages and it’s disadvantages, and that you can never say that a 31 year old is a better father than a 21 year old, a 41 year old, a 51 year old or even a 61 year old.

I also wanted to point out that we’re not programmed to die at 40 and only prolong our lives with medicine or technology after that. People (mainly the rich and privileged) lived to 100 even during the middle ages. The difference is that society was much more dangerous than it is today, not just in terms of violence, but simple things like a cut or a broken leg could kill you due to improper or lacking medicinal practices. After all, how many do you know who have died of a broken leg? Lets also not forget, that most children were set to work at the age of 7 (and I mean hard physical work) and that the majority were malnutritioned and many had poor housing conditions, which means that they were more susceptible to illnesses, and that they were physically worn our at an earlier age than people are today. So there’s really no comparison there, because the very assets of life was quite different then.

Lilianne on

Mira, I wanted to apologize for my previous post. I could have stated my own point a little more kindly. So…for not doing so…I sincerely apologize.

Anonymous on


I have older parents too, as does my boyfriend, and neither of us feels like it was selfish for them to have us when they did. They were much better able to take care of us than our friends with younger parents were. I have benefitted a LOT from their wisdom, and I am now an adult and they don’t seem to be slowing down any time soon.

I think your comment reveals your own issues more than anything else.

Georgina on

Sorry, MiB but isn’t the fact that we now don’t die from a broken leg an indication of medical advances that have prolonged our lives? Now we understand about the human body, germs or whatever the reason for death was, and prevent that from killing someone? Similarly malnutrition is no longer a problem in the developed world, because we again understand the importance of food, nutrients, and excessive work at a young age and so made laws or provided walfare to stop children from being damaged at a young age, so they could live longer. That is exactly Erin’s point no? (Excuse me if it isn’t Erin!).

Georgina on

I forgot what I was going to say about the post!

I understand his annoyance at people comments, his children espeically numbers’ 2 and three are getting to an age where they will understand what people are saying, and there is really no reason to say they’re not his kids when he’s specifically said they are. I understand people making a genuine mistake, but denying it once he’s told them is just plain rude!

MiB on

@Georgina, what I take issue with is Erin’s statement that nature intended us to die at 40 when “we”, as in the human race, have had the potential to become old for a very long time. The fact that people died young was not in a sence because they did not have the potential to get old, but because of outer impacts. Meaning that if you were born in say 1351 and had the fortune of not being murdered, getting into serious accidents, contracting serious illnesses, dying of childbirth, etc. you had a potential to live until you were 75-80. Our life expectancies today have gone up tremendously thanks to better housing, better nourishment and better security, but we would still have had the same potential for long life if we had been born in 1351. Does that make any sense?

NoAdditives on

While I’m not “for” older parents, it’s something that happens. It’s a fact of life. Yeah, he’s not going to be a part of his children’s lives for as long as someone who had kids at 25. Does that make him a bad person, a bad father? No. Does he love his children less? No. Will his children love him less? Not at all. I had a friend whose father was in his 50’s when she was born. It was certainly weird for her to introduce him as her dad but she still loved him, he was still the man who raised her. We don’t get to pick our families, and maybe that’s the biggest reason we love them unconditionally. No one else loves us so completely for exactly who we are, because of who we are.

Look, I’ve judged plenty in my time and I’ve realized that it’s just not worth it. People are going to do what they’re going to do. Often times it’ll be weird and something that most of us would never do or even totally agree with. But that hardly makes them a bad person or worthy of other’s scorn.

tam on

Why is everyone attacking Jana? Instead of being hypocrites, why not move to an Islamic country? A peaceful religion does not condone the stoning of females, the burning of Infedels (non musilms) or the oppresion of people. I work with MANY moderate Musilims, and though they do not appear violent, most could care less about 9/11. They have no sympathy for Americans.

There is a saying ‘History will not remeber the hateful words of our enemy, but the silence of our ‘friends’. That summarises Islam.

J.J. on

It’s hard to think that he’s the biological dad of these babies because of his age, and it’s easy to think that he’s their grandad..but again..there’s nothing wrong with being their dad. Parents can die at any age..there is no guarantee that everyone will live until they are 100 years old. I know of one little boy who lost his dad when the boy was nearly 3. His dad was only 32 :(. A little girl I know was born when her dad was cute to see them together. It’s not the age that matters, it’s the quality time and loving moments you spend with each other. It doesn’t matter how long the person may be around, just enjoy every precious moment you have with them..because they are no guarantees when we all wither away from this world. SO NO JUDGING!!

TJ on

Janna–Maybe you should focus on not being disrespectful to anyone for any reason and teaching your children that philosophy. We have only one daughter, we are Catholic and we WANTED a daughter. Mira–I wouldn’t want children at 66 either but then again he has the financial ability to support them, they were wanted, etc. My parents were young when they had us but my father worked 2 jobs (days & weekends) and my mother worked nights. My husband and I have worked our daughter’s whole childhood as most parents do these days. My friend’s 29 yr. old cousin just died in an accident and her 15 month old is motherless, asking for “mama” daily. Every day is not a given no matter your age.