Building a career, traveling to fun places and just getting established in the adult world are what being in your 20s and 30s are all about. It’s an exciting time of life. However, all of these endeavors take time. Before you know it, so much time has elapsed that you look up from these pursuits to discover that you are in your late 30s or even early 40s, and one item on your to-do list hasn’t been done: parenthood.
That’s when you might wonder if it’s too late. You consider the challenges of being an older parent, the lifestyle adjustments you have to make as well as the high-risk pregnancy factors that accompany becoming older parents. Doctors will warn of the heightened chances of miscarriage, cesarean section, premature birth and chromosomal irregularities that advanced maternal age can bring.
While it remains true that entering motherhood at 35 years of age and older, increase the chances of health risks for themselves, and their babies, doctors will also note that an otherwise healthy mother should look forward to a healthy pregnancy. A lot depends on the health of the woman. Healthy women without any underlying problems will sail through their pregnancies.
You are more secure financially
Usually, having worked for a decade or so, parents in their late 30s or early 40s have had the opportunity to build bank accounts, and their student loans are either gone or drawing to a close. They are more likely to have set aside a cushion of savings, as well as purchase a home, and have a better idea of how to budget month-to-month expenditures.
All of this adds up to a strong financial foundation for becoming parents. While your more secure financial status won’t guarantee stress free parenthood, it is a decided advantage when you have to tackle a myriad of expenses, from strollers and cribs to big budget items like child care or tuition.
Your marriage tends to be more stable
As we get older, there is a greater chance of finding a co-parent that we can enjoy a stable relationship with, which pays off not only for us, but for our kids as well. Children born into these marriages frequently have the bonus of both parents being present throughout their childhood.
Nevertheless, while it’s true that children from secure marriage tend to thrive more than kids from single parent households, it’s an important to note that marriage itself is not the key factor in determining the benefits of a stable home, but the lack of high-conflict incidences in the home. Children from low-conflict, single parent households did about the same, and in some cases better, than children from married high-conflict households.
You are able to offer richer experiences
Older parents have the advantage of having already dealt with many emotional or challenging life events and planning for the future. They will also likely have done some traveling, tasted some exotic food, read more books and learned more about the world. Hence, it’s no surprise that parents with a higher level of education can have a direct effect on their children.
Studies find that children of higher educated parents not only have a greater chance of immediate academic success, but also other advantages well into adulthood. They are able to spend more time helping kids with their homework, expose kids to enriching cultural activities, teach children to advocate for themselves and surround them with a social network of role models.
You have more time to devote to your children
Having gone through your 20s while having fun and experiencing all the things that comes with being young, you will now likely be ready to settle down and relax more at home. Your career will also be well underway so you will have a higher chance of negotiating time off for parental leave as well as vacation days here and there for important school activities. If you have been at your job long enough you might be able to adjust your hours to be more flexible or even work remotely from home. More time home means spending more time with the kids, and saving big bucks on day care.
You will be more appreciative of parenthood
Just by virtue of having waited longer to become parents, there will be a fuller sense of appreciation, even gratitude, when you start in on your parenthood. While younger moms may be surprised by their unexpected pregnancies, older moms are more likely to have planned for it. They will not experience the same kind of resentment at missing out on good times and can instead focus on enjoying time spent with their children.
Consider parents that have suffered from miscarriage, or created families through fertility treatments, surrogacy or adoption – all options that can cost time, money and a whole lot of anxiety – and it’s not difficult to imagine older parents embracing the challenge of parenthood with a sunnier outlook.