5 Big Perks of Being an Older Parent & 5 Big Misses

My husband and I were both 44 years old when our only child was born. Our daughter is now 15 months old and we're 45. We're the oldest of the parents among our daughter's Montessori classmates. Her teachers are young enough to be our own children.

See, this is the kind of mathematical comparing I do all the time.

When I was pregnant, my obstetrician referred to me as being of "advanced maternal age". I accepted that. Being knocked up at 44 put me in a certain high risk category. But in all of the excitement of our pregnancy, I didn't put a ton of thought into the "advanced parenting age" aspect of the situation.

So now that the dust has settled and we have a full year of parenting under our belts, I've had time to reflect on both sides of being a more "mature" parent -- the joys as well as the fears. Let's start with the good news.

1. We're more emotionally stable. While parenting may no doubt put some on a fast track to maturity, I know that I would not have been a good parent in my younger days. I was too self-absorbed, too immature. My priorities then were completely different than my priorities now. Finally, in my mid-40s (I'm a late bloomer, what can I say), I find it much easier to put the needs of others before my own. I recognize that the children really are our future (cue Whitney Houston). And I do not take this responsibility lightly. I am more patient and flexible. I am less controlling (because I have learned it is futile!). I am much more resilient.

2. We're more intellectually equipped. Let's face it, although it seems like the children and young adults of today are incredibly bright and savvy, there's a certain amount of wisdom that comes with age and experience. Because of all that I've lived through in my 40+ years, I'm more than a little wiser than I was in my younger years. I don't sweat the small stuff nearly as much. I have learned to ask "how important is it?" before burning too much energy over something relatively trivial. I am smarter in choosing my battles. And I bring that "larger picture" perspective into my parenting.

3. We're more financially secure. Having worked since I was 15 years old and having (literally) paid my dues, I'm no longer living paycheck to paycheck in a rented apartment. I have a quarter of a century's worth of contributions in my 401(K). My husband and I are fortunate to be able to provide our daughter with a warm home, a yard in which to play, and the benefit of a good education. In addition to the necessities, we can also afford to hire a sitter when we want to give ourselves a night out. And once she is old enough, we'll also be able to take our daughter on trips and give her a broad range of cultural experiences. These things would have been much more of a struggle for me had I had children in my younger years.

4. We take less for granted. When I was younger, I felt that I had nothing but time. That I'd get to that important thing "one of these days". I don't feel that way anymore. I want to get the most out of my time with my child. I want to experience things through her eyes. I want to be hands-on. I place much more value on life in general now. And having thought I'd never have a child, I'm grateful every day to be a parent. My husband and I still look at each other frequently and marvel, "we have a kid"! At my age, having a child is a wondrous gift, not a burden with which I have been saddled.

5. Kids keep us young. Right now, people probably assume that my husband and I are younger than we are because we have a young child. Our "peers", those parents with children the same age as our child, are considerably younger. And I imagine that our daughter will be keeping us current with music and trends way longer than might otherwise have been the case. We can't sit around in rocking chairs ... we have a toddler running around!

As for the less positive side ...

1. We will become elderly while our children are still young. This is a tough one. If we're lucky enough to live to a ripe old age, we're going to be reallllly ripe when our daughter is still relatively young. When she graduates from high school, we'll already be in our 60s. We may miss a lot of things that younger parents get to enjoy: seeing our child become a parent; becoming grandparents; seeing our child succeed in her chosen career. Or even if we do live long enough to see these things, we might not be able to enjoy them as much as we would if we were younger. And it's not just about what we'll miss as parents. Our daughter may lose one or both parents while she's relatively young. And she's an only child, so she could literally be without an immediate family at that point.

2. There is a potentially huge cultural gap. There are already some things I just don't "get" (one small example: the allure of Justin Bieber). I can't imagine how this list will grow once my daughter is a teenager and I am pushing 60. (This is where #5 on the positive list will hopefully come in handy.)

3. We're tired. We just don't have the energy we did in our 20s or 30s. We tire more easily. We have less stamina. Most times a night in sounds way more appealing than a night out. Once our child is old enough to play sports, getting out in the yard and practicing with her will be more of a challenge for us than it would be for a younger parent. How we're going to keep up with this child (much less stay one step ahead of her) is already a source of anxiety for me.

4. People will think we're the grandparents. We're the same age as some of our child's friends' grandparents, so at some point, I'm sure it'll start to look like we're the grandparents. At that point, though, we'll probably be too tired to care.

5. We may become a burden on our child. This is probably the fear of every parent, but doubly so with older parents. It's hard for me to see my own parents age and they are only 26 and 32 years older than me. I don't want my child to ever have to worry about my health or well-being, but the odds are that she will, and at a much younger age than her peers.

All things considered, I have no regrets over having a child at my age. I believe that the good far outweighs the negative. But we definitely just have to be more mindful of appreciating every minute of the present, and carefully planning for the future, ours as well as that of our child.

Were you happy with the age you became a parent?


Images (top to bottom) via Erica Montgomery and Brooke Kelly

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Lovin... LovinJerseyMama

Harder said then done sometimes (lol) but just enjoy your children. Who cares about age. Your kids will love you for being great parents. Not great "older" parents or "younger" parents. There are many positives & negatives to both sides of the age debate. But it all comes down to what works best for YOU. Not your neighbor, moms group or society in general. I'm considered a younger mom, having both my kids by 25 years old, and I can give you a list of pros and cons. But you know what? Being a young mom works for ME. It's what I chose for my family. And at the end of the day that's all that matters :) 

lulou lulou

Yes, had kids in my 30s, and found Im now much more efficient work-wise, and picking and choosing career boosting work opportunities/saying no. 


The big thing missing in the "smart moms have kids in 20's" article in regard to the career ambitious mom - was the glaring issue that they then are also raising their kids in their 20s and 30s, when they havent paid their dues yet in the workforce, and are still dealing with this "inflexibility".  So unless you have partner picking up a lot of the load, I dont understand how this was smart career planning.  MIght be best for your family, but thought the article was more about careers.


Also, from some of the comments imply that some who had kids early, view 40 year olds as decrepid and slothlike at raising kids, while they are waiting for this magic 40 number to be free of child raising activities and then will have this massive amount of energy  to conquer the world.  


 

Lovin... LovinJerseyMama

Lulou- Its not about what number is better. It's about what number is better for you. People place importance on many different things. Some moms might not care to have a big career in life. Some moms might have wanted to enjoy their younger years before committing to a family. Who cares? Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but judging people based on your personal one is unflattering. I personally don't give a damn whether you're an 18 year old mom or a 50 year old mom. As long as you're a loving mom who does what's best for her family then you're good in my book :) I've seen horrible parenting from both the young and the old. Age doesn't make the parent! 

nonmember avatar MomofTwo

I agree with the poster bove that said it works best if it works for YOUR family... I dont think there is a right or wrong answer as long as the parents step up to the plate. I had my first daughter at 22, and second at 24 and Im DONE having kids. Having over a ten year age gap between my siblings and I, I saw first hand what it was like to have the "older" parents ... of course it could be just "older" AND tired of parenting since we already did that ten years ago syndrome. I got away with EVERYTHING! My parents never disciplined me, or set up any structure for me. I'm very blessed to have grown up to be a responsible person in spite of all that and be able to have a flexible GREAT job, and provide for my family. I guess because I lost my father when I was 17 years old (still hurts very much to this day more than 10 years later...) for me it was important to have kids young and be able to spend as many years as possible with them on this planet and be there for them.

It really hurt when I got married and didnt have my father there to walk me down the aisle.. or whenever I need help with something that I knew he was good at but now I have to hire someone because my dad is no longer there.

God willing I want those extra years to be the fun active grandma and be there as long as possible for my kids.

nonmember avatar KidsComeFirst

My dad was 49 when I was born. I spent my senior year of college trying to find a nursing home for him because he had gotten dementia and couldn't take care of himself anymore. By the time I was 25, I had buried him. My own kids never got to know their grandfather, and I wasn't ready to deal with an elderly and demented parent in my early twenties, let alone losing one. Mark my words, older parents are SELFISH. That's right, SELFISH. It was so painful to watch my father die.....

lulou lulou

Right, thats where I added "might be best for your family".   My thoughts was this blog was based of the prefious "smart" one, which the article tried to argue having the child early might be better in terms of your career, where I thought they missed the point of actually raising your child and being ambitious in a career.


If I was having a discussion with an ambitious 20 something mentee in my field, who wanted this information from a career standpoint, Id frankly tell her to first attain her professional goals, and that could take 5,10,15 years depending on what they were.

lulou lulou

And yes I did spell previous wrong, and have read Nancy Pelosi's book.

mommy... mommytojack0524

@Kids ComeFirst--So sorry to hear about your dad. That must have been really rough. Sad situations happen to families at all ages. Being a younger mom doesn't guarantee anything.


I think it would have been more selfish for me to have kids earlier without a dad (or with the wrong man) than it was to wait until I was older and give my son the best dad he could ever have.


Be careful calling out a huge group of people, whose situations you couldn't possibly know, as selfish.  Many older moms have faced years of infertility, miscarriages, etc.  Show compassion.

bChill bChill

I had my first baby 3 days before my 20th birthday, my husband and I talked for months about what we wanted to do and realized it's never going to be an easy time to have kids, but that this was the best for us. Just like that feeling in my heart where I knew he was the one, I knew now was the time for a baby. You KNOW when it's time for you to have kids and there's always pros and cons but who cares when anyone else thinks it's time to have them, it's your life.

Rootbear Rootbear

My best friend just buried her father. She is 27. Shit happens. 


I'm starting to freak out because I'm childless and I'll be 30 in November. My boyfriend and I are getting a house in 3 days and talking marriage and all that but I still feel that I'm missing out or I'll be too old or whatever. Sucks.

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