Advantages of Being Older Parents
Dear Dr. Vicki:
My husband and I want to have a child; I’m 46 and he’s 49. Could you please tell us some of the advantages of being older parents?
Dr. Vicki’s response: Congratulations on making the decision to have a child! Being parents is about the best experience a loving couple can have together. As for being an older parent, it may surprise you to know that about 20% of women are choosing to have a baby after the age of 35! And, many women are giving birth well into their 40’s.
There are a number of benefits to being older parents. First of all, the basic premise of having children tends to be different. Younger couples get married, and have children generally as the next step in a relationship. However, for older parents, having a baby is often more of a choice. It’s not an obligation or an expectation, as it is in many cases with younger marriages. Generally, there is a lot of thought given and preparation made before welcoming a child into their lives. While there are certainly great parents in their 20’s, there is a tendency for younger parents to grow up along with their children. They frequently do not have the patience, financial stability and life experiences that come with being older parents.
Younger parents still have lots of life experiences to live, and can actually end up resenting the restrictions and responsibilities placed on them by virtue of having a child. Many young parents feel that children actually end up being a burden, and keep them from “having fun.” However, older parents have had a chance to have gone through many of the earlier phases of life, such as clubbing, traveling extensively and being spontaneous. They tend to be more ready to settle down and focus their attention on the enjoyment of being parents and not feeling they are ‘missing out’ on other experiences. This doesn’t mean that older parents don’t have any fun! It does mean that their lives tend to be richer, and their experiences with each other, their children and life in general have deeper meaning and appreciation. They tend to have as much fun as their kids at Disney, the park and the zoo—experiencing these activities with the kids, rather than merely providing them the experience. For example, younger parents will push their children on the swings—older parents will swing along.
Older parents tend to be more financially stable and secure in their careers, and have completed their education. This tends to mean less conflict regarding how to parcel out time, not having to juggle school, family and job. They also may be able to retire earlier, or be more flexible in their established work situation, affording them the opportunity to spend more time with their children.
Finally, older parents tend to be in more stable marriages, either because they have been together a long time, or have come together later in life with a clearer understanding of what they had been seeking in a life partner. They are more apt to have greater ability to communicate with each other, and have learned the importance of compromise and establishing agreement. In child rearing, this is particularly important. Stable relationships provide greater stability for children. And, relationships developing later in life tend to be more passionate…and passionate partners make better parents!
All the best to you both!