Starting a family later in life has its challenges-and rewards ...
Andrea Markowitz, Ph.D.
April 22, 2010
There are tradeoffs to becoming parents, even when you're young. Here are some pros and cons associated with becoming a midlife parent.
The Benefits of Waiting
Taking time to "find yourself" before starting your family benefits you and your future child. By waiting until after college and establishing your career, you achieve a level of emotional and financial stability that many younger parents won't have. You can take advantage of your freedom to travel and pursue hobbies before becoming a devoted parent. Plus:
You're more likely to already own or be able to afford a home, and to afford childcare, so either parent can continue pursuing their careers, if they desire.
You're more mature and have gained more wisdom from experience.
Young adults born to older first-time parents describe their parents as less stressed, more satisfied and more psychologically mature than younger parents, (cited by Cynthia K. Drenovsky and Melissa Meshyock in their own 2000 study, published in the "International Social Science Review").
Young adults with older parents feel closer to their parents than young adults with younger parents (according to Drenovsky and Meshyock's own study).
Disadvantages of Waiting
Your income is reduced due to cutting back on work hours, quitting your job entirely or paying for childcare--but you need to be spending more on the new baby while saving for college and your retirement.
Less income can create stress and require downscaling.
You may have less energy to play sports and go on outings with your kids.
You're further removed from your kids' culture.
You'll sometimes be mistaken for your child's grandparents.
You may have age-related medical conditions and a shorter remaining lifespan, and your kids will may still be young adults when you may need their help in your waning years.
The Big Picture
With today's medical advances, people in their 60s and 70s are healthier and fitter than ever before, and living longer. The best thing parents can do at any age is raise children who feel loved, wanted and appreciated, and are prepared for adult life.