Old New Parents

By Rebeldad Brian Reid

When, at the tender age of 25, I sat in the waiting room before my wife's prenatal visit, I felt like some kind of teen father, surrounded by bulging bellies and nervous fathers who looked like they had at least a decade more of life under their belt. I figured it was a weird Washington phenomenon -- the average age of a mother having a first child was 24.9 in 2000 -- so I figured I was the normal one and didn't think too hard about it. Until last week.

My erstwhile cube-mate Paul Nyhan at the Working Father blog pointed last week to a bevy of stats compiled by the National Centers for Health Statistics that show that it's not my imagination: The proportion of older parents is accelerating.

The number of moms giving birth from age 35 to 39 was up 28 percent between 1994 and 2004, and the number of moms 40 to 44 was up 63 percent over the same period. That means 14 percent of all mothers fell into that bracket. In 1982, for comparison's sake, 35- to 44-year-old mothers accounted for just 5 percent of new babies.

It's just a hunch, but I'm willing to bet that those figures would be even more striking if you broke out the just the D.C. area.

The explosion in older parents is a huge change, but it leaves me wondering if the graying of parents has any impact on parenting or the quest for balance. I've spilled ink (figuratively) here on how Gen X and particularly Gen Y dads appear to have decidedly more family-centric viewpoints on work when compared to their boomer counterparts. But they are also a shrinking portion of the new parent pie -- hardly the trendsetters.

I think about how my employment status, my mortgage payment and my pragmatism about child care have shifted as I've moved from a twentysomething to a thirtysomething. As the age range of parents widens, I have to ask: Are the balance issues the same for a 20-year-old as they are for a 40-year old? Or do older parents have more options -- nannies, opting out and the like -- that simply aren't feasible for younger parents without longer resumes and longer standing bank accounts?

Brian Reid writes about parenting and work-family balance. You can read his blog at rebeldad.com.

By Brian Reid |  September 6, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Research
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I don't know that you can draw generalizations. I do have a lot more job security, but I also have a lot more job responsibilities. When I was younger, I probably wouldn't have taken a significantly lesser work schedule because I would have been worried about how it would affect my partnership chances; now that I'm a partner, I still haven't taken much of a cut in schedule because it would be very difficult to serve my clients working much less than I am now.

The one difference I do note is self-confidence. I care less about what other people think, I trust myself to be reasonably competent to manage my kids (and job), I don't beat myself up all the time over irrelevant stuff, and I'm a little bit better at relaxing and realizing that things will work out reasonably one way or the other (not much, but a little). I definitely didn't have any of that when I was younger. But then again, I'm also a slow learner -- I've had friends who managed to get there at 23-24 years old. So for my kids, it was definitely better to have me as an older parent, because I was just much better equipped to handle parenthood at 35 than at 25. But that isn't true for everyone.

Posted by: laura33 | September 6, 2007 7:36 AM

deuxieme Older as a third time parent: confident. Were I to have been older, wiser, more financially secure etec etc as a first time parent not so sure. As long as there are grandparents, mothers in-law, keep up with the Joneses - I'd think being a first time parent would still be fraught with that rookie feeling. In fact my mom was a first timer at the age of 41... waaay back in 1966 and although a TOTALLY different decade than now - unpopular war, social upheaval, rare female attorney at fat cat nyc law firm - seemed to balance things ok...

Posted by: btpduc748 | September 6, 2007 7:43 AM

Nothing better than attending your kid's high school graduation while being pushed in your wheelchair!

Older? yes. Wiser? maybe. More money? probably. Less energy to keep up? Definitely. Resentment from the older siblings? yes.

Posted by: anonthistime | September 6, 2007 7:51 AM

My parents were older when they got married and older when they started a family. my mom was 30 when she had me and my dad was 40.

Now, my mom is 61 and my dad is 71. I have noticed that their parenting style involved hands on parenting, dicipline (the occasional spank, sent to room), my brother and I didn't have TVs in our room, the computer consisted of an ancient radio shack model that was used for word processing, and we sat down every night for supper.

My parents talked to me like I was the kid and they were the adult. I had distinct boundries and never would have thought of talking back to another adult, much less thought about hitting an adult.

I am a teacher now and I have noticed the kids today (geez I sound old) are super rude. This year alone I have been hit, pinched, and talked back to. The parents of these kids are getting younger and younger.

I think that having older parents benefitted me because they brought me up in a similar way to how they were raised. I have the best relationship with my parents. I respect them and often remember things they did when I was growing up that were just fabulous.

Posted by: cookie75 | September 6, 2007 7:53 AM

Oldest of the four was born when DW was 30 and I 29; youngest at 38/37. We intentionally waited until we were more settled. I had the Master's and had decided not to finish the PhD at that point; we had a house and were where we wanted to be in our careers at that point in time. I had seen friends get married and have kids at 22 or 23, right as they started working, and I really (a) wanted to live life as an adult on my own for a while; and (b) didn't want all the responsibilities that kids bring at that age - I wasn't ready.

(And I'm not even talking about the teen pregnancies/shotgun weddings all too familiar to the Louisiana scene.)

So yes, I think the age at which you become a parent makes a difference. On the other hand, I really would not want another one now, or much after the fourth was born. I tell friends that youngest DD will start college the same week I turn 55, and that's quite enough for me, thank you. I want my life back while I'm still young enough to do what I want to do! I'm selfish that way.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | September 6, 2007 8:02 AM

I'm pretty sure I would have been a bad mom if I'd had children in my early to mid-20s. I had very little patience then (I have a lot more now but it's still something I actively work on) and I was extremely selfish. Combining those attributes with one or more children would have resulted in much misery. I think I would have preferred to have children maybe around age 30, but I had my first at 34. C'est la vie.

I agree with Laura on not caring so much about how others see us as we get older. This sense of self and confidence is something I'm passing on to my children. There are mothers I know who seem to be trying to make their tween kids "popular" and I could simply not care less about that kind of cr*p. I want happy kids, but I'll let them define what happiness means to them. I think when I was younger, I would have been much more rigid.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | September 6, 2007 8:27 AM

Neither my wife nor I felt we were mature enough for children when we got married in our 20's fresh out of college. Too much was just getting started in our lives at that time to throw kids into the mix. We both know people now whose lives got derailed by having children at a young age; not saying their lives are wasted or the children weren't wanted, just that what they had intended to do in their lives changed radically when they got pregnant. We also know parents who waited to have children until they were more secure career-wise, emotionally and financially.

Now we are in that "older parent" category Brian mentioned in his article, and we both feel that we're more stable and grounded and prepared for children now than we would have been in our 20's or even our 30's. Now we've just got to get the whole process started...

Posted by: johnl | September 6, 2007 8:35 AM

Good timing really depends on the person and what is right for you. However, I am very happy that we've waited until I am in my mid-30's to try and have a family. (No kids yet, just starting to try).

We've saved A LOT, taken incredible vacations, spent time together and done what we've wanted in our careers. Now that we are changing our focus, we can do what we want. There are funds to make balance easier by hiring a nanny or having me stay home. I, or my husband, can also cut back at work so we have more family time.

If I had kids in my 20's, I would not have such flexibility. I was also not as confident and cared what people thought about me. I think I would have tried to "keep up with the Jones" more back then. Now, I really don't care.

Also, since I was not married until my late 20's, I would not have had as much time with my husband. I do think a strong marriage helps build a good family. So, I am grateful for the 5 years (or more) we will have together before a little one comes.

Posted by: Thought | September 6, 2007 8:40 AM

My mother was 37 and my father was 46 when I was born. I in turn had my first child at 38 and the 2nd at 40. I often have regrets about being so old when I had my 1st, but I really didn't have a choice. I didn't find my soulmate until I was 30+ and suffered through 5 years of infertility. My regrets are that by the time my oldest was 9, my kids had to go through the death of 3 grandparents. While my kids are lucky to have even known their grandparents (I never knew mine), I feel so bad that their grandparents missed out on how they are turning out. One of the things I miss the most about my parents being gone is that I don't have anyone to whom I can shamelessly brag about my kids. My sister can only take so much!

Posted by: Sylvia1231 | September 6, 2007 8:41 AM

Hey, I wanted to give a shout out to my sister (though she shall remain nameless on this blog), a working mother of two who has, through hard work and dedication, has ended up with her dream job. She actually resigned with another offer from the job she's been at for 9 years, and they told her she could have anything she wanted if she'd stay! So she will be working only 3 days a week AND she got a 15% bump in salary, they'll pay for wireless at home so she can work at the office or from her house, a one-time chunk of stock options and an extra week of vacation. Is that insane or what?

Posted by: WorkingMomX | September 6, 2007 8:43 AM

My eldest (5) was born a few months before I turned 30. Even now, I often feel like I'm one of the youngest parents at daycare or school so I think I'd have felt that even more if we'd had kids earlier. And we married at 24. But hard as life can feel sometimes now, I think it would have been even harder if we'd started younger mostly just because we had less money. I think we spent our first years of marriage working to set ourselves up well for kids. In the pre-kid years, we bought a house, my husband got a master's degree, I started my master's degree (finishing a year after #1 was born). When we had #1 and #2 in daycare (nevermind #3), we spent more on the cost of it than I made total gross in the first year we were married. So I think age, but more especially your earning potential which often increases with age/experience and/or additional education, can make a huge difference in terms of your family lifestyle choices.

Posted by: rockvillemom | September 6, 2007 8:45 AM

The effect of having children when you're older? It's real simple: you get to work longer. My younger brother got married right out of medical school. Once his daughter grew up and got a faculty position of her own, he could retire. I married eight years later, so only one child is on his own. That means I have to keep working even though my younger brother has retired. This is not rocket science, folks.

If I had it to do over again, would I have got married at age 21? Of course not! If I had married then, I'd probably still have three children, 'cause that's how many children the girl I would have married wound up having. But we would have been either miserable or divorced. And (judging by what became of her children) my three children would all have been (gasp!) Lawyers.

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | September 6, 2007 8:49 AM

I'll be 26 (husband will be 27) when our first is born in April. This was a surprise- we'd always planned to wait a few more years, but sometimes life just happens :-)

However, I'm already nervous about having a kid so "young". Friends are married but none have kids, and I'm worried I won't be able to connect with anyone with children. Money will certainly be tight, we own our own house but it is tiny and expensive. My career is just taking off and I'm worried how this will affect things (and I'm the primary $ earner in our family).

On the other hand, we have a great support network in our families. My parents live 10 minutes away and my dad is retiring in December and has offered to watch the baby. I'm hesitant to accept as I don't want to burden his retirement, on the other hand with daycare as expensive as it is we may not have much of a choice. And we'll be younger when the kid is older, so hopefully will be able to retire earlier, have more energy, etc.

Of course, all of the above posts talk about how happy people were that they waited, which doesn't help my anxiety :-). But I do have faith that everything will work out just fine in the end.

Posted by: carifly | September 6, 2007 9:10 AM

Just to put in a note for the other side: I was talking a little a while ago with a friend from Fed days, "Don." Don and his wife got married the day after their college graduation; had their first child 10 months later and had all three before they were 25. They're now both 47; all the kids are grown and gone (finished college, with good jobs, etc.). So they're now doing the things that some of us talked about doing earlier.

Don tells me he wouldn't have changed a thing. He thinks they were right to have kids when they did. They're both still Feds; they plan on retiring in 8 years when they'll both be 55 with more than 30 years in (they're under CSRS). They've got the rest of their lives to do whatever they want.

As far as caring what others thought about them, trust me on this one - Don has never cared what anybody else thought about him! :-)

So it's really an individual choice. I'm glad I waited, but there are some who were ready earlier and there are some definite benefits to starting early.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | September 6, 2007 9:12 AM

My general feeling is that at the extreme end of the spectrum, there is a HUGE difference. If you are younger than 24ish, then I think you probably don't have the maturity, life experience, security, etc. that older parents have. Is this a big generalization? Of course. I also don't think it is great to start having kids at age 40/45+ because of the reasons people have already mentioned.

But is there a huge difference between say a 28 year old and a 34 year old first time parent? Probably not.

I had my first at 30 and will be having #2 at 32. I have to admit, I feel very young to be having children even though most of my friends of the same age are having them right along with me. DC (and London) tend to have older parents, I think.

Like many others, I think I am a much better parent at 32 than I would have been at 22 (certainly) or even 26/27. But that's just me...

Posted by: londonmom | September 6, 2007 9:18 AM

I had my son at 25 (DH was 28) and we felt like the youngest people ever to have a kid. I completely agree that breaking those statistics for the DC area would show that most new moms (and dads) are 30-35.

Posted by: moiragrl | September 6, 2007 9:29 AM


Try not to compare your age. There are benefits to having kids young too. We were just about your age when our son was born. My son will graduate college when I'm 48. I could have grandkids by my early 50s (like my parents).

Hey, I'd much rather have a grandkid when I'm 55 than a teenager of my own. But that's just me.

Posted by: moiragrl | September 6, 2007 9:34 AM

carifly, don't fret -- you will be fine. Both ways have their benefits, so you just need to appreciate what your choice gives you instead of worrying about what might have been. My mom had me while 19 and in college (unplanned); when their marriage broke up, she found herself a single mom at 23. Certainly not what she planned, and money was VERY tight for most of my childhood as she went back for her Ph.D. But on the flip side, I was out of the house before she even hit 40 -- and now she's a very young 61 and has many, many years to enjoy her grandchildren.

My biggest regret about being an older mom is that I won't have as many years to enjoy my kids and grandkids. You'll have that. But that's the way life worked for me -- didn't plan on infertility, untimely cross-country moves, etc. So instead of fussing over all of the coulda woulda shouldas, I try to be grateful for the fact that I'm a much better mom now than I would have been (they may have me for less time, but they'll have a better me for that time).

Posted by: laura33 | September 6, 2007 9:35 AM

We had our first child when we both 21, right out of college. Though it was certainly surprise, we welcomed it. In fact, I had always said I prefered to be a young mom. We have a ton of energy to keep up and integrating her into our lives is second nature. I never got accustomed to a career without a family, so the change was surprisingly seemless.

My mother me in her early twenties. I have always appreciated her youthfulness, but now that I am mother myself, I am glad that she healthy and energetic enough to enjoy being a grandmother.

Posted by: jnjarrell | September 6, 2007 9:39 AM

I had my first at 34, and it felt like the perfect time to have a child. I was in a stable and happy marriage, had bought a home, and had a job that paid well and gave me flexibility. I felt like the financial and emotional aspects of the situation were good for raising children. But I never imagined how hard the first few years would be for me. The baby was colicky and then extremely active. I could barely keep up, and thought that this would be it. No more kids for me. But then, the baby got older and easier to take care of, and I began wanting another child. It took a few years for my husband to feel the same way, but by the time I was 39, we were both on board with the idea of having another child. Not so easy to get pregnant the second time around though. After a string of miscarriages over the course of about 2 years, I finally became pregnant at 41, and this baby will be born right before my 42nd birthday. I feel older in some ways, the miscarriages made me realize that my eggs are no spring chickens anymore, but in terms of health, I feel as good as I did at 34. So far, the pregnancy has been uncomplicated and healthy. I have energy and stamina, and spent a week at the beach riding the boogie board with my 7 year old. My job is more responsible than it used to be, but I also make more money niew, and it it is also flexible and I can arrange things so that I can work at home at least some of the time after the baby is born. Finances feel pretty secure, and the marriage feels very stable and time tested. So for us, having a baby at almost 42 seems perfect, and we feel very blessed that it happened at all. And this time, I know what to expect, at least, and am not expecting maternity leave to be a restful time of napping and reading books while the baby sleeps. I think I can handle it better now than I did at 34. But I have always been a late bloomer also. I think it depends on the persons involved. I have a friend who had her first at 25, and it seems to have worked well for her.

Posted by: Emily | September 6, 2007 9:47 AM

There are positives and negative both being young and being older, and I really think it depends upon what the individuals parents/families want.

I had my first at 32, and was one of the first of my friends to have a child -- for both marriage and kids, first timers are older in DC.

I was more confident, less panicked about my life and my career, more willing to assert myself at my job, healthier about my relationships and families, in my early 30s than I was in my 20s.

At the same time, I will be less likely to see my grandchildren grow up than if I'd been younger. And many of my older friends are having trouble getting pregnant.

Some good, some bad. For me, I think it was the right "choice" (though a lot of it was about meeting the right significant other when I was older). But for others, perhaps not. In the end, I think you make it work whenever . . . though I really do think the teens are too young for most people.

Posted by: sciencemom | September 6, 2007 9:52 AM

I applaud any time as being the right time to have a child. Just go ahead and jump in because you never have enough money and you'll never have enough time or energy no matter what age. You'll end up waiting forever. And then you may not be able to have a child without some very expensive "help" as my step-brother did.

Older parents do have more options to opt-out and hire more expensive nannies and the like, but I think the crunch time will come when college vs. retirement rears it ugly head.

On a personal note, I agree with you Brian. I had my daughter at 23 (now 28) and it was tiring this week to be looked at by some of the other kindergarten parents like you must have become a mother at 16.

Posted by: sophiasmommy | September 6, 2007 10:08 AM

I think older parents have to add in the trade offs of dealing with aging parents and young children.

We had children fairly early. My husband's parents, who were older themselves, were in declining health while our children were young, but still pretty capable.

Since then one had died and his mother is in very poor health. Our children are driving and more on their own, and that makes it easier to deal with his mother's needs.

If you have brothers/sister who didn't have children later then they're more likely to catch the bulk of the caring for aging parents. That can create family stress.

Posted by: RedBird27 | September 6, 2007 10:19 AM

I think you just have to be realistic and then make the plunge. If you're young and just married, make sure you didn't marry because it's "what you do." Make sure your marriage is the real deal. If you're older, be ready for infertility and miscarriage. It may not happen, but it very well may. In either case, make sure you want a baby and you're not trying to fill a void or do what's "expected" of you. Sounds like a no-brainer, but we've all had our stupid moments.

I'm not getting the exhaustion thing. I had my daughter at 32 and will likely have the next at 34. I'm in better shape than I was in my 20s, so I don't feel abnormally tired. The 30s are good.

I'm also not getting the retirement vs. college thing. If you choose to pay for your kid's college, what's the difference if you pay at 45 vs. 55? If you start saving when they're born, it's 18 years regardless of whether you had them at 25 or 35. And, news flash, you don't HAVE to pay for their college. Plenty of us did just fine with student loans.

I do understand the concern about aging grandparents and money. The former didn't remotely factor into my decision to have kids. The latter did, but you make it work. As long as we're not on public assistance, we're doing fine. Just last night my husband said he'd be happy to keep having them even if it meant moving into a tiny appt in the boonies. I'll be fine with 2 or 3 in a house near the Metro.

Posted by: atb2 | September 6, 2007 10:35 AM

For us, it is have children early and often. We don't know how long we will live (some say as little as 25 years) and how many children we can have (gestation for some of my cousins is 18-24 months) Then there are always those pesky dolphins head butting us!

Some of our young even eat each other before birth (Intrauterine cannibalism.) Ironically enough these are the Grey Nurse Sharks.

If any of us waited until we had graduated from the School of Dolphin Defense, had our own little cozy spot in the sea near Davey Jones' Locker and had looked over several potential mates, we would be extinct!

Posted by: nonamehere | September 6, 2007 10:35 AM

I had #1 at 25 and #2 at 29 and I wouldn't change a thing. I will be under 50 when both are out of the house. My mother had me at 19 (unplanned) but was the best, most active mom at my school. I see the big difference now in that my MIL is 15 years older than my mother. Even though my MIL is still in really good shape, my mom is much more physically active with the kids and the level of activity is much different. I can't wait to be a young grandma like my mom, she has so much fun with the kids. I want to be like my mom who is always on the go. It must be hereditary, my 80+ year old grandmother still leaves the house everyday (on her own). In fact I had a great-grandmother until I was 12. It's all about personal choice, and my choice works for me.

Posted by: k1k1s1 | September 6, 2007 10:35 AM

I had my kids at 33 and 36. We were married just under 2 years when no. 1 was born - after a year of marriage, we talked about it and it was right. Having kids earlier wouldn't have worked obviously - and with people getting married older and older these days, no wonder people are older when they get married. I think it's evolution - since we're living longer. I do think about how old I'll be when they're out of hte house, and how long it will be before we have grandkids (I think having more gives you more of a chance, but my DH says that it takes too long to wait for 'em!).

I saw people get married out of college and thought they were crazy. I had no thought about getting married til I was a little older, let alone kids (didn't really think about it til we were married, really). I'm happy with where we are, and they're growing up so fast! But really, it's better for me, to have the kids older. However, my DH is the oldest of three, and his sisters (one is 7 yrs younger) have kids just around the ages of ours - so it's nice that there are cousins around (well, sorta, one sister lives in CO).

Obviously, it's a 'when you find the right person' and 'when it's right for you' kinda thing - and seriously, it's nice to have the money to live where we want, take vacations when we want, have the kids do what they want (i.e., soccer, music, etc) - rather than my upbringing where my parents were SO CONCERNED about money that every penny my mother pinched so tight - it was VERY STRESSFUL in the household (yeah, I know, many of you probably grew up not high on the hog - but your parents probably didn't let it stress their every waking moment) - and I never wanted to live like that when I grew up. I don't give my kids everything they want (!) - certainly - but it's nice to know we have enough for some rainy days.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | September 6, 2007 11:02 AM

I am 39 and my husband is almost 55 and we have a 17-month-old daughter. When we took our childbirth class at the hospital we realized that we were the norm for DC - some of the dads looked older than my husband (though he is very fit and looks younger than he is).

I'm pretty happy with the way things have turned out. My career now allows for more flexibility and doesn't require so much face time as when I worked in the lab. It also pays far better so I don't have to spend my time pinching pennies so much as I used to. We can now afford to hire help with home repairs and maybe we'll even hire someone to help us mulch leaves this fall!

I'm sure all would have worked out fine if we'd had kids earlier on (when I was 24 and he was 40) but that's not the way things ended up.


Posted by: nahnah | September 6, 2007 11:32 AM

wow, slow day.
Oh, and to Matt, from yesterday: Not until the 1950s did a 'one income' household even exist. EVERYONE worked. Until they died or just couldn't work anymore. No retirement. Working. Mom may have worked around the house (making food from scratch, sewing clothes, selling food, whatever), but always worked (my grandmother worked, since she was 8 - my great grandparents worked - their parents were in europe, so no help there with childcare).
It's a myth that we 'should' live on one income. Yes, it's NICE when we can. But saying that it's something someone should fix, so we can, is not a great concept. Living is what it is, and cost what it costs, and that's the way it is. If you can live on one income (and I have) it's great for you, but for most people, throughout history, people have been living when everyone worked.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | September 6, 2007 11:33 AM

Had my first at 27 and my second two months before my 30th birthday. There were times of stress, but the joy of having my two boys in my life far exceeded that. Yesterday I turned 50 and I'm glad my two are grown. I'll be an empty nester as of November and I'm loving the freedom and confidence I have now. I'm old enough to have gained much wisdom and experience, and young enough to still enjoy it all. It's all a matter of what works best for each of us.

Posted by: winjonnic | September 6, 2007 11:46 AM

I had my daughter at age 30, so I will turn 49 as she is heading off to college. It was good timing for me in terms of maturity, but I was still building my career. But I have done fine professionally and following divorce I have been able to provide well for my daughter and myself. I'm 42 now and I can't imagine doing diapers again...

Posted by: pepperjade | September 6, 2007 11:49 AM

I didn't had two nickels to rub together in my twenties and could barely cook a hot dog. Have children? BWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! I am so thankful that I waited and had my kids in my thirties. Old? I hardly think of late thirties as old.

Posted by: pATRICK | September 6, 2007 12:00 PM

What a boring day, boys and girls! What can we do it make it fun? I know, we will sing a song! Are you ready? Let's all sing along to:

On Blog-Way
(with apologies to the composer, the original singer, anyone who has ever covered this song and anyone who has even hummed "On Broadway".)

They say the words are sharp
On blog-way
They say there's always contention in the air
But when you're paging down that screen
And you ain't got nothing mean
(to say)
You get rubbed right out and you're nowhere

They say that Matt is somethin' else
On blog-way
But reading him just makes me snooze
cause how ya gonna write some lines
When all you read is nursery rhythms
And if you don't your kid will whine all day

They say that Brian won't last too long
On blog-way
He'll catch a greyhound bus for home they all say
But they're dead wrong, we know they are
cause Leslie says he is a star
And he won't quit but won't go too far
On blog-way

On blog-way
On blog-way
Emily's gonna write a column, yeah
On blog-way
She'll be a big guest
On blog-way
Emily will have her name on top
On blog-way
Everybody gonna know her
On blog-way
All up and down blog-way
On blog-way

Posted by: anonthistime | September 6, 2007 12:04 PM

I had my daughter, who's almost 3, right after I turned 25. My husband was 33. So we kind of have both ends of the spectrum in our own marriage. I also look younger than my age (28) - I still get carded all the time. At daycare a few months ago, I made a comment about my graduation coming up so my daughter would have lots of family in town. Her teacher asked me if I was graduating from high school! I said, no, law school, but thanks for the compliment. :-)

Posted by: plawrimore1 | September 6, 2007 12:06 PM

The men in my family have been having children late in life
since the early 1700s. (Average generation length is about
40 years). But while one might expect that to give a deeper
perspective, I've only got a few bits of accumulated wisdom.

The first is (and this may be a family thing vs. age thing) the
fathers tend to be less worried about being authority figures
(they figure the authority is clear) and more worried about
being emotionally connected (friends) with their kids. Paraphrasing my grandfather -- we all know where the
authority sits, and we all know I'll use it if needed, so why make
a big deal about it?

The second is that the time with grandchildren is often quite

Posted by: craigp | September 6, 2007 12:06 PM

Matchmaker, matchmaker
Make me a match.

Posted by: hillary1 | September 6, 2007 12:07 PM

Well, someone please help me. We just had out first child. I'm 32, my husband is 39.

He says he is now officially "too old" to have more kids. If there are other reasons why he doesn't want to have another, that is one thing, but I don't want to not have another child for such a stupid reason. Obviously, he is older than his parents were when he was born, but we also have a lot more resources than they did.

Posted by: tamara | September 6, 2007 12:32 PM

Posted by: tamara | September 6, 2007 12:32 PM

Bad news, he's making an excuse. Many men feel trapped with more than one child. Sorry.

Posted by: pATRICK | September 6, 2007 1:09 PM

I've never commented here before, but I read this blog pretty regularly, and I think the commenters are *hilarious*. Your brutal sarcasm, wit and obnoxious comments are over the top - love it! There are lots of interesting and intelligent arguments here, too. The one about the woman that was going back to work after 20 years out of the workforce was particularly funny. I felt bad for her, and wished it was a hypothetical situation as opposed to a real person on the receiving end, but I couldn't help but laugh. It was the kind of advice you would expect from Howard Stern.

Posted by: judesthomas | September 6, 2007 1:10 PM

From someone who has been there, this is my advice: Put off making a decision about another child for at least a year, maybe two. You are still young enough to have some time, and the first couple years after a baby is born are really grueling, in terms of time, sleep, and energy. Your husband may well change his mind in another couple of years, or you might also change your mind. Enjoy your time with your new baby, and just defer thinking about another child for a while.

Posted by: Emily | September 6, 2007 1:11 PM

"Just go ahead and jump in because you never have enough money and you'll never have enough time or energy no matter what age."

Ain't that the truth! I figure there are pros and cons to any particular point in your life - if your heart tells you its time, then do it. And if it doesn't, then don't.

Tamara, my husband was 45 when our son was born. We will not have another child, in part because he feels he is too old (I don't want more for my own reasons, so that works out fine). I think for him that captures a lot of things that you and I might categorize as "other reasons" but for him all come together in that one. If you guys just had your first, I'd give it a little time and then see how he feels. I know for us, the first two years were exhausting and my husband felt that more, which he attributed to his age (I don't know if it was that or just who he is or some combination).

But I'd also say that feeling that he is too old is legitimate and something to respect - if he doesn't like the idea of having a teenager when he's 60, having to be responsible for college tuition when he might otherwise be retiring, etc, that's reasonable.

Posted by: LizaBean | September 6, 2007 1:13 PM

Posted by: Emily | September 6, 2007 01:11 PM

Well done, that is very good advice.

Posted by: pATRICK | September 6, 2007 1:14 PM


But, do you like our songs? (yes, I am fishing for a compliment here!)

Posted by: anonthistime | September 6, 2007 1:17 PM

"It's a myth that we 'should' live on one income."
Posted by: atlmom1234 | September 6, 2007 11:33 AM

Who said we "should" live on one income? I said that if our government would curb what I believe to be unfair low-wage competition from overseas and from undocumented workers here, "Americans might once again be able to earn enough to support a family on one income."

"Yes, it's NICE when we can. But saying that it's something someone should fix, so we can, is not a great concept. Living is what it is, and cost what it costs, and that's the way it is." (atlmom1234)

I disagree. In the 1890s, mill and mine owners paid men so little that not only did their wives have to work, their children also had to work in the sweatshops. My Aunt Jessie started at age 12 at the sewing machine, my Uncle Sam not much older at the cutting machine. If the workers had resigned themselves to saying, "Living is what it is, and cost what it costs, and that's the way it is," we would still have child labor (as they have today in India) and sweatshop labor (as they have today in Red China). Instead of sitting there and taking it, workers did two things. First, they organized into Unions. Second, they fought in the political arena until they won a Federal right to make the bosses bargain with those Unions.

If pay were so low today that the income of 12-year-old children were necessary to pay the rent and the grocery bill, would you still be saying, "that's the way it is," and it's not "something we should fix"? There are areas in Baltimore where 10-year-old kid earns $100 by acting as lookout to warn dope dealers that the cops are coming, and his mother needs that $100 to pay the electric bill. Shouldn't we try to fix things so the kid doesn't have to do that? And if some families' idea of "balance" is one parent working outside the home and the other parent staying home, should unfair low-wage competition be able to force them into the two-earner model?

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | September 6, 2007 1:19 PM

Well, thank you very much, Patrick. I rarely get compliments from you.

I am kind of chuckling to myself about how we make decisions in our lives. Back in the days of midnight feedings, diapers, teething, and sleep deprivation, I was completely against having another child. I did not think I could handle it and keep my sanity, and did not want to go through it again. But a little bit of distance from that particular pain makes me think that I can actually do it again. Sometimes, I wonder if I am deluding myself. Maybe, in a few months, I will be a perfect candidate for a room with padded walls. But then I look at my adorable 7 year old, and realize that every single sleepless night was worth it and more. If I can just get through the infant stage, I should survive. After that, it's easy (for me at least).

Posted by: Emily | September 6, 2007 1:24 PM

ANON, I like your songs, they are very clever. A trait I much admire.

Posted by: pATRICK | September 6, 2007 1:29 PM

I don't know that I've read too many songs. But I did read the one you posted today, and it was pretty creative. I have to wonder if Leslie thinks some of it is funny, too.

Posted by: judesthomas | September 6, 2007 1:37 PM

If you want kids and can support them, have them - whenever.

DH and I had three previous marriages (but no kids - fortunately) between us before we found each other. We were 28 and 30. Our 20th anniversary is next week.

We had older son at 33 and 35, and younger son at 38 and 40. We'd love to have another baby, but considering the fertility issues, we both feel incredibly lucky and blessed to have our two great guys.

Age/maturity has been a good thing for our parenting. We both felt strongly that our kids should have a SAHP, and my income was enough that DH was able to quit his job and be home full time.

With a disabled kid, it's turned out that following "the plan" was even more important. DH can advocate for appropriate placement and services from the school system and the county and state disablity service providers.

Our family is right for us, and looking back, I wouldn't change a thing.

But - I do think back to when I started actively trying to have a kid during my starter-marriage (10 years before older son was finally *finally* conceived), and wonder "what if..."
I suspect and hope that if I'd started my family at 23 instead of 33, I'd be equally content with my children the way that very-different life might have gone.

Posted by: sue | September 6, 2007 1:42 PM

Off-topic alert, rant ahead: I've just come from a lunch meeting to discuss this year's United Way campaign. My firm wants to reach new heights of giving (yet again)! Teams will be formed and captains will be crowned who will urge/force all members to pony up (yet again)! Together, we can donate a bunch of money in the name of the firm (yet again)! Unfortunately for my participation in this meeting (and the tone of this post), I met this morning with an employee who's a single mother of three who asked for a payroll advance (yet again) to try to make ends meet. Yet this poor woman will be encouraged to "give what she can" to United Way in about a month's time.

I am ALL for making charitable contributions, and I recognize that United Way makes it easy for people to pick from many charities and donate. I absolutely loathe the fact that this is such a big deal. It's been like this at every firm I've worked with, and I am quite frankly sick to death of it.

Rant over.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | September 6, 2007 1:52 PM

«I have a friend who had her first at 25, and it seems to have worked well for her.»
«Posted by: Emily | September 6, 2007 09:47 AM»

Age 42, it can work well for you, too, Inshalla, may you have a healthy new baby.

America, a girl of 12 years, you cannot marry her, «child abuse», «statutory rape», some men in the Midwest, they tried marrying 12 year old girls like in the old country, they are in hoosegow now. The children she could have had between 12 and 16, she will never have them, but this is OK, Western system doctors have discovered it is unhealthy for babies and mothers if mothers are 12, 13, 14, 15 years old. Age 25, if she waits until this age, the healthy children she could have had between 17 and 25, they will never be born, her children, they will be limited, maybe only 8 instead of 14 children. The olive trees, will there be enough children to tend them and pick all the olives? The camels, will there be enough children to water them when they get thirsty? The elephants, will there be enough children to tether the elephants when a storm is coming?

Posted by: abu_ibrahim | September 6, 2007 1:56 PM

abu, you are cracking me up.

Posted by: Emily | September 6, 2007 1:59 PM

"I am ALL for making charitable contributions, and I recognize that United Way makes it easy for people to pick from many charities and donate. I absolutely loathe the fact that this is such a big deal. It's been like this at every firm I've worked with, and I am quite frankly sick to death of it."

It's the same deal where I work. Every year, a giggling, ditzy HR chick comes around to cheerlead the workers to "Sign Up Now". If we reach our office goals, we will have a PIZZA PARTY!!!!!

Gosh, how is it that we know that if we reach our office goals, the HR chick gets a BONUS and another tip-top performance evaluation? Baloney!

Posted by: hillary1 | September 6, 2007 2:00 PM

For all my fans out there (all two of you), another version of "On Blogway" with the usual apologies!

(Leslie, do you like my song parodies?)

They say the chatter is fun
On blog-way
They say there's always mischief in the words
But if you want the quote of day
You better hold you tounge and not say
Cause you will give Fred the blues

They say the Mona is somethin' else
On blog-way
But she went away and gave us all the blues
cause how ya gonna have some fun
When she is in Torts 101
And time is always squeezing her shoes

They say that pATRICK wont last too long
On blog-way
He'll catch a greyhound bus for home they all say
But they're dead wrong, we know they are
cause he can type faster than playin' guitar
And he wont quit till he's a super star
On blog-way

But we need more guests, we know we do
So Megan and Sue can quote you too
And we wont quit till we run thru blog-way
On blog-way
On blog-way
I'm gonna write it, yeah
On blog-way
I'll be a big, big author
On blog-way
Ill have the by line by my name
On blog-way
Everybody gonna know me
On blog-way
All up and down blog-way
On blog-way

Posted by: anonthistime | September 6, 2007 2:00 PM

"Off-topic alert, rant ahead: I've just come from a lunch meeting to discuss this year's United Way campaign. My firm wants to reach new heights of giving (yet again)! Teams will be formed and captains will be crowned who will urge/force all members to pony up (yet again)! "

I had a situaution like this once. A vp came up to me and said "Patrick, I know we can count on you to be a captain". She probably was supposed to be the captain. I said, well I don't want to be a captain, sorry and then I sat silently and she walked off completely surprised. She obvuously did NOT know me at all. She thought she could dump it on me and I would just sheepishly take it. I never contribute just for the team. And now I can say sorry, I give to our church. People only have the power over you that YOU give them.

Posted by: pATRICK | September 6, 2007 2:01 PM

I am ALL for making charitable contributions, and I recognize that United Way makes it easy for people to pick from many charities and donate. I absolutely loathe the fact that this is such a big deal. It's been like this at every firm I've worked with, and I am quite frankly sick to death of it.

Rant over.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | September 6, 2007 01:52 PM

I'm not a United Way fan for lots of reasons not relevant to this, but also have to say that I'm glad the firms I've worked at don't operate like this. Yeah, we have the rah rah meeting, and 5 follow-up e-mails, but there's no pressure, no contests, no tallying. Just to be practical, while I have the utmost sympathy for your colleague who is broke, if one WANTS to support the United Way, a $5 per paycheck pre-tax deduction isn't likely to make the difference between her paying or not paying her bills.

OTOH, I have zero tolerance with attorneys, doctors and other professionals who are well-compensated and who do NOT believe that they have a civic duty to share their monetary blessings with local non-profits. Take your pick but give something back to somebody. You know who you are. For those people, I'd say, at least participate in the United Way campaign. This from someone who abhors the percentage of donations the United Way uses to beat everyone up.

Posted by: MN | September 6, 2007 2:45 PM

Apparently the year before I got here, there was a push for attorneys, directors, and managers to give a specific minimum. For example, the suggested contribution for directors was $100/month automatic payroll deduction. That is a lot of money. Not sure what the attorneys were being hit up for, but I'm guessing it was at least the same and probably more as the directors. I just think it sends the wrong message about giving, when you try to strong-arm someone into it. I try to stay neutral because I have to, but my sympathies lay entirely with the folks who grumble.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | September 6, 2007 3:09 PM

I wanted elephants, but the condo association has a size limit on beasts of burden. Two boys should be sufficient to tether the dog to the tree in back.

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | September 6, 2007 3:25 PM

I agree, WorkingMomX, but we are hit up all the time to support a friend or colleague who is running in a disease prevention-related marathon, or is participating in a lock-up for muscular dystrophy. Your firmrs approach to UW would make me grumble, certainly. But I received 4 - count 'em - 4 solicitations from client contacts just this morning to support them in connection with various research and disease prevention fundraisers. Quite honestly, the biggest pressure I face all year long is to give in connection with the Race for the Cure. All worthy causes, but it never ends.

Posted by: MN | September 6, 2007 3:25 PM

Great topic. I got married at 36 and had my first child last year, at 39. Now I am 40 and concerned about getting too old for this. I went to law school in my 20s and chased the right job in my 30s. It did not seem like the right time then to have kids. Problem is the right time never seemed to present itself. So far so good with our nine month old son, but I wish I were younger. My dream to have a big family seems not likely to happen. If we have one more, I think we'll be lucky.

Posted by: bobh1967 | September 6, 2007 3:57 PM

As in all things, it is a matter of priorities. If it is a priority to have kids young, then you try to do so. If, however, it was more important to do other things, then whatever-it-is is what you try to do.

One interesting corollary to this is guys tend to marry, not necessarily when they meet the right girl, but rather, when they decide it is now important to meet the right girl. The next girl is the right girl. Of course, this isn't true for everyone, but as a female in a male field with mostly male friends, it happened over and over again. All of this assuming marriage before kids. YMMV.

Posted by: dotted_1 | September 6, 2007 4:17 PM

"As in all things, it is a matter of priorities. If it is a priority to have kids young, then you try to do so. If, however, it was more important to do other things, then whatever-it-is is what you try to do"

Interesting, Dotted. For me, when I was in my 20s, my priorities were for the most part, learning to be a grown-up and becoming self-sufficient and independent. And frankly, at the time, I did not realize that these were really my priorities (even though they were). I had some hair-brained idea that my priorities were finding the right guy and settling down, but it wasn't working out, because I was just too immature to realize that I needed to get myself in order before that happened. Thank God that I did not have kids back then. Growing up is a lot harder when you have babies in the mix. It wasn't until my 30s that I became sufficiently mature to have a real marriage and think about kids. And I guess I am glad that I did not have a set plan (like marriage by 25 and kids by 28), because if I had had such a plan and stuck to it stubbornly, it would have probably been a mistake for me and my then husband. Sometimes, you have to let life take you where it will, and trust that things eventually will work themselves out.

Posted by: Emily | September 6, 2007 4:32 PM

I agree growing up is hard when you add babies to the mix. Just can't help but feel a little cheated. How come others get to have kids in their 20s and a good career and I have to wait until my late 30s. I know it would have been rough to have kids while in school but also felt like life's taken too long to settle itself. Sigh...end of day rant. Thanks

Posted by: bobh1967 | September 6, 2007 4:39 PM

Emily and dotted: wow. Great contributions, both.

I never felt as though I had a choice to have kids any sooner than I did. I didn't meet the right man until I was 31. We didn't have squat in terms of resources but wanted to have kids and knew we didn't have forever to dilly around. So child 1 was born when I was 34 and child 2 was born when I was 40. Had either of us been entrenched in our views of how old is too old, how many resources are enough, we probably would be childless - and that, for US (not anyone else), would have been a big loss.

Posted by: MN | September 6, 2007 4:41 PM

Bob1967 - I don't want to be insensitive, but stop looking at life from a negative perspective. It will take you nowhere good pretty damn fast.

Life is what it is. Be thankful you have a child and may have another even. Be thankful you have a job and a wife and a home to live in. Hopefully you have some friends and family. Be thankful you have your health for now. There is no point in feeling bad about something that did not happen, especially when what you have is pretty good. People are cheated when they die young, when they are infertile and can never have kids at all, when they are homeless or jobless and have no expectation of digging out of those holes. Your troubles are nothing in comparison to your blessings. Focus on that and enjoy your wonderful life.

Posted by: Emily | September 6, 2007 4:51 PM

Right - o - Emily. Life is what is happening when we're making other plans.

I can confidently say that's what happened to me!!!

Posted by: atlmom1234 | September 6, 2007 5:03 PM

"I never felt as though I had a choice to have kids any sooner than I did."

Spot on, MN. I met the right guy at 28. Well, actually, I probably met different versions of the right guy all the way back to high school, but I was too immature to realize that a normal, nice guy who clearly adored me wasn't "boring" at all. Once I figured that out, surprise! There he was. We got married at 30, decided to give ourselves a couple of years to adjust to marriage first (with an unexpected cross-country move thrown in), then when we were settled and ready, we discovered unexpected infertility issues. So really, even though I was 35 and officially of "advanced maternal age" (gotta love that term, dontcha?) when DD arrived, I feel like that was my first real chance at it.

And no, DS really didn't come at a "convenient" time. But at some point, the "perfect" time can become "never" -- and with my history and at almost 39, "never" was way too close. So we decided that in the long run, the downside of "now" (pretty seriously bad timing) was WAY less important than the downside of waiting (very reasonable possibility of no baby at all), and said damn the consequences, full speed ahead. And I've never regretted it. Even with all the chaos and complications. :-)

Posted by: laura33 | September 6, 2007 5:12 PM

Posted by: Emily | September 6, 2007 04:51 PM

I try to remember this every day--it's so easy to take those day-to-day things for granted, but those are the blessings that make up the fabric of our lives.

Bob1967: when I think about the roads I didn't take--such as not going to law school--my daughter reminds me, "If you had done one thing differently in your life, I probably wouldn't be here." She's right, and that holds true for you. If you had done one thing differently, you might not have the family you have (and love) right now.

Posted by: pepperjade | September 6, 2007 5:16 PM

wapo ate my post, let me try to remember what I wrote.

atlmom - happened to me too!

Emily - what's up dudette?

MN - I'm ready for some rain this weekend, what about you?

Finally, OT alert: it is after 5pm, can I talk football now?

Posted by: dotted_1 | September 6, 2007 5:23 PM

Thanks guys. No one's been insensitive. Btw I'm really thrilled being a Dad. Sometimes I just want to lay on the floor and play with my son all day. It has been adding some very positive parts to my days.

Posted by: bobh1967 | September 6, 2007 5:24 PM

Finally, OT alert: it is after 5pm, can I talk football now?

Posted by: dotted_1 | September 6, 2007 05:23 PM

Oh yeah! I suspect most are Redskins fans here...

Hard to get excited about NFL living in a city where the games are usually blacked out because the team sucks so bad (Arizona Cardinals)...

And speaking of sucking, I still love the Dolphins, too...but NCAA football (and basketball) was very good for me last year as a Florida Gators fan.

Posted by: pepperjade | September 6, 2007 5:49 PM

pepperjade - you, MN and I will be having trash talk... MN and I are ACC..you being SEC and all

Posted by: dotted_1 | September 6, 2007 6:39 PM

If I had an opinion on all of this, I would say GO SAINTS!

Posted by: Fred | September 6, 2007 6:44 PM

Fred, Fred, Fred: you said it all....

Posted by: dotted_1 | September 6, 2007 6:47 PM

My husband and I are both 27, which I think is Gen Y, or perhaps very young Gen X, depending on how you slice it. Anyway, we married at 23 and had our first child at 24. She was a surprise. We had planned to wait a few more years, until we could afford to have me stay home or work part time. Right now we both work full-time and my husband attends grad school part-time.

I've heard it's easier to conceive when you're young, and a young parent probably does have more energy than an older parent, but from a financial/practical perspective it's much, much harder to have children so young, at least in an area like D.C. Our friends are just starting to get married. None have kids. The people we know who have kids tend to be 5-10 years older. 20-something parents are not as well-off financially. It is much more difficult for a 20-something woman with little work experience to negotiate a longer maternity leave or a part-time work schedule. It's much harder to afford either good child care or a stay-at-home parent.

On the other hand, my husband and I are extremely lucky to have both sets of grandparents nearby. My mother-in-law watches our daughter while we're at work. Both sets of grandparents are willing to baby-sit frequently. Since we had a child so young, our own parents are not that old, so they still have the stamina to baby-sit. We have yet to pay for a baby-sitter. Our parents give us plenty of advice and emotional support. I don't know how we could make it work without them. I guess we could, but it would be very difficult.

I certainly don't think young people are inherently incapable of being good parents. For most of human history, people married and children much younger than we do now. What's changed is society - it's only so hard because society makes it hard, what with skyrocketing housing and tuition prices; low wages for entry-level jobs; the dumbing down of education, so that people need master's degrees for jobs that once required a bachelor's and bachelor's degrees for jobs that once required a high school diploma; and just general low expectations for 20-somethings that so many of us are happy to live down to.

Posted by: mismay | September 7, 2007 9:35 AM

I don't know if anyone is still reading. But we had our only child at 33. I could not have had her any sooner because I did not even meet my husband till I was in my 30s. So we were always on the accelerated scale. The benefits of being in my 30s was we had already paid off our student loans and had purchased our home. Except for our mortgage, we did not have any debt. We were both in middle management and had secure government jobs. I was also able to work a part time arrangement which allows me to have every Friday off. On the down side, we feel too tired, to really have another child. But that decision was also due to our DD having significant delays and a sleep disorder. I think we might have felt differently if she were a typically developing three year old. I think the biggest down side of waiting (if your intentionally waiting) is infertility. People like JohnL (who I wish the best of luck in forming a family). Through out this year we watched or heard of his struggles to form a family. I think 30% of my friends have had some sort of fertility treatment. That is very hard on the marriage, the body, and the soul. The biggest down side to having kids young is that you may not have as much money, stability, but that is about it. Just have kids when your heart tells you to. As long as you have a reasonable job, a stable marriage, and in good health, then it is the right time. And Brian my OB told me that the most first time moms in the DC area are in the ages 30-35 compared to the national age of 25-30. It is attributed to the large percentage of highly educated (college and post college graduates) in the DC area. People delay having kids for educational, financial, or professional reasons as well as are marrying later.

Posted by: foamgnome | September 8, 2007 4:12 PM

We had our DD when I was 28, and we hope to have another next year (I will be 31).

Part of me does wish we had started a few years earlier, but if we had, I could not have afforded to stay at home with my kids- they would have had to go to daycare since we couldn't have paid our mortgage with one income when we were younger. So in the end, I'm glad things worked out like they did.

Posted by: floof | September 9, 2007 1:31 PM

I had my first at 18 (obviously an unplanned surprise). Without a very strong support system it would not have worked out as well as it has. I would not have been able to finish college or to work to support her. I met my now husband in college and we married and decided to have more children right away. We are now 27 and 28 with 5 little girls. We have always been the youngest parents at school which is harder on my husband. Many of my friends are fellow moms who are 10-15 years older than I am. I am active in my girls' schools and feel that most people accept my age well although some older mothers have been rude in the past. My husband has a harder time relating to a lot of the Dads we come into contact with and most of our close friends do not have children yet.

I think the hardest part about being so young is money. My husband has a great job but it is still a struggle with 5. I am not sure if that would be different if we had started older or not.

Posted by: michelewilson | September 10, 2007 8:47 AM

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