There's always something parents are collectively wringing their hands over, and this weeks it's Parenting While Old. We're starting our families later and later. Does this mean we're all going to be too old and rickety to pick up our genetically-warped babies when we do actually manage to squeeze them out? Thank you, this month's New Republic, for reminding us of yet another thing parents are doing wrong.
The magazine cover features a grey-haired couple holding a baby with the headline, "The Grayest Generation: We're Having Kids Later Than Ever. We Have No Idea What We're Getting Into." Inside, Judith Shulevitz explores how screwed older parents and their kids are, what with the unknown dangers of fertility treatments and the age-related genetic and epigenetic mutations. Oh man, you KNOW you should be scared when they whip out the epigenetic mutations. Or should we be worried?
XXfactor writer Allison Benedikt is worried and asks, Is Waiting Longer to Have Kids a Big Mistake? She's a 35-year-old mom with two kids and one on the way: "I’m wishing we had started popping out those kids, oh, say, five years earlier than we did, so that maybe, by 40, my bedroom and my sons' bedroom wouldn't be separated by a fake wall."
Benedikt lives in Brooklyn, and as a fellow Brooklyn parent I have to point out, almost-three kids at 35 is already pretty young and ambitious family planning for New York City. She got married at 26 and waited five years to have her first baby. I did almost the same thing: I married at 25 and waited seven years to have my first and only. But I'm not doing the math (how old I'll be, how much money I'll have spent, how long before I can afford more toilets in my apartment) and I'm not wringing my hands. And you know what? I refuse to worry about this.
Do you year me, Judith Doomsayer Shulevitz? I'm not freaking out!
I mean, I'm still being responsible with my finances. And I know it's harder to conceive the older you get. And I understand how babies born to younger parents would have all sorts of advantages.
It's just that these decisions we make about kids are so complicated. Why stress ourselves out second-guessing over how many kids you had/will have when? I think we're all making the best choices we can, based on our own unique circumstances. It's good to know all the risks so you can make the best choices -- but not if all that information gives you more gray hairs than you already have! And it's great that women actually get a CHOICE! Really, I'd like us all to just chill the hell out, because there is no ideal time to start a family. There's just the time you and your spouse decide to start.
Do you think we should be worried about being too old -- or too young -- to start a family?
Image via JeffreyTurner/Flickr