Written by: Shani Fowler
It’s official – new parents are getting older! Last year women in England and Wales who gave birth aged 40 years and over, exceeded the number of teenagers who also gave birth the same year. The margin was slim but nevertheless higher, with 29,158 babies delivered to women forty and over and 29,136 babies recorded for women giving birth 20 or younger; showing a shift in trends.
Reasons differ. Some people might struggle to have children and it takes them longer to get there, some may not meet the right partner until later in life or they may choose to delay having their families. Either way there are definitely some advantages to being an older parent. Though nothing is as important as loving and caring for a child, and parents of all ages are able to be fully competent at that, we should have a look at some of the benefits to older parenting.
Whilst most of us couldn’t claim to having our money grow on trees, generally older parents tend to have their finances in a little better shape than the younger ones. After so many years of work, older parents are more likely to have a bit of cash behind them for that rainy day, have an established home with a few creature comforts and can be better placed to give children a good standard of living.
Been there – done that
Older parents have often ticked a lot of things off their ‘bucket list’ already. They are likely to have their ‘wanderlust’ out of their systems; they’ve been travelling, seen places, holidayed with their friends, stayed up all night long partying. They are often more ready and willing to hang up their disco shoes and accept the responsibilities that parenting requires and put their full efforts and attention into it all.
They generally don’t crave wild nights out with their friends or to rave all night in Ibiza, they are more than happy to stay at home tucking the kids in bed whilst reading Goldilocks for the third time in fifteen minutes!
Older parents have often managed to work their way (at least in part) up the career ladder, which can mean they are better facilitated for maternity and paternity breaks from work. Their high regard at work could mean they are better supported by their employer. Older parents may even be in a position to take a career break or be happy and able to slide down the career ladder, even if only for a while.
Patience and wisdom
With age (for most of us and for some of the time at least) comes patience and wisdom. We are wise to life events, not in such a hurry to do everything. With age we can be more confident and aware of our abilities and limitations. This is a real quality when dealing with children as it can be the most testing time of our lives, we can draw on our vast reserves of life experience to get us through.
Further education and the future
Having children later in life means it is likely you will retire whilst the children are still relatively young and as such you may be able to help out with being able to send them to university or college or help them get on their feet with accommodation of their own. Or even be in a position to help out with child care for them when they have children.
Many years ago, it used to be assumed that a woman having a child later in life, especially forty plus, had been ‘caught out’ and the conception was accidental. Quite often it was. Now however, society sees a definitive shift in patterns where it has been a clear choice to have a child or children later in life. Older parents are no longer pitied for their “misfortune” but rather celebrated as they manage to provide everything younger parents can and sometimes more!