Advantages of Being Older Parents

January 12, 2011 by  
Filed under Ask Dr. Vicki, Parenting

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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!

Comments

15 Responses to “Advantages of Being Older Parents”
  1. Kimberly says:

    Thank you so much for this article. My best friend is having her first baby at 43 and my husband and I are trying to have our 2nd child at 42/43 also. We had our first child at 38 and being an older parent has been better for us. We have no regrets, more patience, more money, more awareness of putting the child first, etc. I can’t imagine having a child in my 20s. I personally was still a child myself and would have made a very selfish mommy. There is so much wisdom in your words and I’m happy to pass it along.
    Thank you

  2. Dr. Vicki Panaccione says:

    All the best to you and your family! Thank you for commenting. Dr. Vicki

  3. Erin says:

    Spot on and well-stated!!! My husband and I just had our first child a year ago. He is 45 and I am 35. When he was in his early 20s he had a child. He says there is absolutely no comparison to having your child later in life; in his words, “THIS is the way to do it!” He was not ready to be a dad in his 20s – it was an accidental pregnancy and a shotgun wedding with his first wife. In comparison, he and I planned our marriage and then the birth of our daughter. It felt so right. Both of us have lived out our childhoods and are just in awe of our daughter; she is such a blessing to us. She is cherished and we couldn’t be happier!!

  4. Dr. Vicki Panaccione says:

    How wonderful for all three of you. There is a lot to be said for being ready to have a child a bit later in your relationship than early on. I hope that other couples will get inspiration from your example and consider waiting a bit to start their family.

  5. precious says:

    I love my parents to bits, but as a child of older parents there are major draw backs. I’m in my thirties now and while my peers stress about losing grandparents they can happily assume that their parents will be around for years. I dont have that luxury. I never knew my grandparents and since my late twenties I have been looking after my elderly poorly mum. I am very aware that with both of my parents I am already living on borrowed time. Since my mid tweenties I have been so worried about losing them that it has influenced major life decisions. This is when I moved back to my home town to spend as much time with them as I could before I no longer had that option. Yes I had a relatively good childhood but being older does not automatically make you a better person or parent. The older you are when you become a parent the sooner you will become a burden and leave them orphaned. Children are people not play things. This I want so I will have be damned the consequences is selfish.

  6. Dr. Vicki Panaccione says:

    Thank you so much for writing in. I can see that you have, indeed, chosen to make some different decisions in your life than others your age would have had to take into consideration. However, I want you to still realize that this has always been a choice for you to make. You chose to be close to your parents and spend as much time with them as you could. Perhaps their age was actually a gift that created this scenario. How many others take their parents’ long lives for granted and assume that there will always be more time to spend with them…and that time never comes? I hope that your resentment is also balanced with the joy you have had in being near them and spending the time that most of your peers will never make the time to do.

    Yes, it is a different kind of life when you are raised by older parents. I appreciate your sharing your perspective with my readers. I really believe that it’s all in the way you look at it. You could have this life, or no life at all. The “selfish” decision these two people made is the only reason you are on this planet.

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