Did de Niro Really Just Become a ‘Dad’?

Actor Robert de Niro, a septuagenarian on the cusp of octogenarianhood (he turns 80 in August) has just fathered a child. We may use that term advisedly, for ‘fathering’ implies something for humans it does not in the rest of the animal kingdom. Non-humans reproduce, but we humans procreate, for when a couple conceive a child, God also creates a soul at the same moment, infusing said immortal soul into the new mortal body.

Hence, fathering – and for that matter, even more so, mothering – a child implies not only something physiological – producing a human body – but spiritual and transcendent. Each new baby is a body-soul composite, a person, destined for God. Parents have the duty to raise, form and educate that child to maturity, and ultimately towards heaven – a duty that takes about two decades, give or take year or two. 

At 79, Mr. de Niro has no plausible way of doing that. He may eke out a few more productive years, but by the time his child reaches the age of reason he will be in his mid-80’s. Hence, he will never truly be a ‘father’ to his child. Sure, said child – and his mother – will inherit a good portion of de Niro’s millions and be ‘set for life’, as the saying goes, but that’s not quite the same thing, is it? What the purported dad has done, prescinding from the disorder of the sexual act outside of marital union, is ultimately self-centred, whether he considers it such or not. The mother will be left to raise that child alone, or with someone else who is not the father.

(To be fair: Mr. de Niro has had, with various women, six other children, some of them now middle-aged. He is nothing if not prolific, at least by Hollywood standards)

The reader may recall a not dissimilar situation with our former Prime Minister, Trudeau, Sr., who also sired a child outside of marriage in 1991 at the age of 70, in a liaison with Deborah Coyne, then 36, not long before he shuffled off this mortal coil at the turn of the millennium. Sarah Coyne, Justin Trudeau’s much younger half-sister, never knew her dad, and perhaps never will. 

Sad, that.