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The Best Age To Become A Parent

You know you want kids. But you've got a life to live, a career to build and a partner to find. So, you wait. And before you know it, you're in your late 30s or 40s. Your biological clock has been ticking away. Getting pregnant becomes harder. Infertility treatments cost around $12,000, but what choice do you have?

MSNBC's package "Have Kids? Sure ... Someday" examines the realities many women face in having children. The package includes audio from parents and one non-parent of various ages about "what age is best for having children."

Younger parents lean towards having kids early. You've got more energy and your kids have more time with grandparents. Older moms lean towards people having children when it's right for them. And parents who've done it both ways weigh the pros and cons of each: With their later children, they were more financially secure and more mature. But, the time they'll have with those children overall is likely to be less because of their starting age.

The question is intriguing. Are younger parents more energetic than older ones? Do people parent differently at different ages?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  June 11, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Relationships
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Comments


The best age to become a parent is when you decide to do so. Having them when you're in your 20's has its benefits, but so does having children later. Every situation is unique; there's no "best" age.

Posted by: John L | June 11, 2007 7:04 AM | Report abuse

I had my kids at age 28 and 31- I was lucky enough to meet their dad at 19 was married at 22. We were established in our careers then. I have a friend who had her only child at 46 and being 62 and the mother of a 16 year old is a very rough ride right now. I find older first time parents very nervous and uptight- they've waited so long for a baby that they just cannot relax.

Posted by: Tucker | June 11, 2007 7:24 AM | Report abuse

Another silly question. There is no "right" answer - this is different for everyone. Each age has its own plusses and minuses. The best age is when you're ready to and want to focus more on your kid than yourself.

Doing it younger may mean you have more energy and will be able to spend more time with them when they're older, but you probably make less money and may not have a built-in support system yet. And many people are still kids themselves.

Doing it older means you have probably worked more and have more money, have more experience, have more friends with kids, etc. But it also can make it tougher to get pregnant, increases changes of complications/abnormalities, you might have less energy, might have older parents to deal with when kids are in high school, etc.

And sometimes, you don't get a choice in this anyway! You might try for a few years before anything happens.

People just need to know all the plus/minus stats before making a decision. At any age, you have benefits, and you have things that suck.

I had my 2 kids at 25 & 30. None of my friends have any kids, so that sucks. I have no one to talk to about kid issues who really understands. We also have no family in the area to help us either. I also wish I would've been able to travel more and spend more alone time with my wife before we had kids. We also haven't been able to accumulate lots of the new gadgets/toys our single and non-kid friends have.

Luckily, we've both worked so money hasn't been an issue. Being younger, we have energy to keep up with them and enjoy going out and watching them experience new things. We had no fertility issues to deal with. We were able to space them out by 5 years and not worry about having them back-to-back. When I turn 50 my youngest will be 20 and (hopefully) out of the house . We also stand a chance of seeing our grandkids and great-grandkids, and being able to enjoy them.

Posted by: ATL Dad | June 11, 2007 7:32 AM | Report abuse

Of course the answer is...whatever works for you in your situation. No one can tell you it is wrong to have a kid at 20 or wrong to have a kid at 50. The issues on either end are pretty apparent so you have to do what is right in your situation.

Posted by: HappyDad | June 11, 2007 7:37 AM | Report abuse

There are advantages and disadvantages to both younger and older parenting. The best age is subjective and no one way is better for everyone. I find it interesting that for the most part everyone seems to think the way they did it is the best, this is also true about spacing between children or number of children.

Posted by: Centreville Mom | June 11, 2007 7:48 AM | Report abuse

When we got married at 23, DH and I agreed we'd wait until we were 30 to start a family. We had specific financial goals that we agreed to meet first. It was hard, but we stuck to our plan and lucky enough that my body cooperated that time.

On the one hand, I think waiting was one of the smartest things we've ever done. My only concern in what will happen when I go back to work (originally planned for 2009, but in limbo until we figure out if we'll be able to have a second child).

I've met several women who had their kids in their early 20s, right out of college, then went on to start careers. Each and every one of them seems to think that it was the best thing for them, career-wise. I'm wondering if it might be smarter in some cases to have kids early and then focus on career, rather than interrupting a career already in progress, like I have.

Posted by: NewSAHM | June 11, 2007 8:05 AM | Report abuse

How about it's the right time when you have a partner? I didn't marry till my late 30's because that's when I met my husband. Therefore, having children in my 20's was not an option. I have friends now who, having reached their late 30's with no partner, are becoming single parents (through biology or adoption). They waited as long as possible for the partner to come along and now they're embarking on parenthood alone. They have good careers, ones that could alone support a child and also have good family-like support. Timing is not always a choice.

Posted by: Jamie | June 11, 2007 8:31 AM | Report abuse

30...

Posted by: single mom | June 11, 2007 8:41 AM | Report abuse

Due to personal reasons involving both my wife and I, we did not decide to try and have children until we were in our 40's. Neither of us felt we were ready to raise a child earlier, although it would have certainly been easier on my wife during pregnancy.

We're aware of all the issues, but we're in agreement that we probably wouldn't have been the best parents had we had a child earlier in our lives. I just hope it doesn't take too long to get started!

Posted by: John L | June 11, 2007 8:45 AM | Report abuse

As someone whose parents were older, my take is to have kids earlier rather than later. (Oh wait, I did have my first 15 years before my parents did).

Obviously there are many 40 yo parents who are active, and engaging, and who are the makings of the BEST MOM AND DAD ever. And, I'll always concede that age is mostly mental. But, I maintain that the closer in age you are to your child, the easier it is to see things (and enjoy life) from their perspective.

Posted by: need more coffee | June 11, 2007 8:48 AM | Report abuse

"I find it interesting that for the most part everyone seems to think the way they did it is the best,"

I had mine at 31 and 35. I think younger is better. It's very hard dealing with teenagers, much less dealing with teenagers while going through menopause. I think the ideal time to start having children is 26 and finish by 33 or 34. Of course, the ideal doesn't mesh with reality - in my case I didn't marry until 29 and had several miscarriages before my first was born.

Posted by: me | June 11, 2007 9:13 AM | Report abuse

We were both 28 when DD was born, and that has worked out well. We are young enough that we'll be able to enjoy travelling and doing other kid-free activities once she's grown and out of the house, but old enough that we have a reasonable amount of financial security. Plus, we plan to have the house paid off by the time DD enters college, which will make college tuition/retirement much easier.

Sometimes I wish we had had her when we were a little younger, so that we could consider a very large spacing between DD and a potential sibling. But there's no way one of us could have stayed home through her infant/toddler years if we'd had her younger.

I think every situation is different, though.

Posted by: reston, va | June 11, 2007 9:24 AM | Report abuse

You should have kids whenever you feel that you want to, and are ready to provide all of the love and nurture that they need.

Interestingly, I know someone who is a doctor in an ER in a big city. He said that all of the women who show up to give birth are either 16ish or 35ish. He doesn't see any women in their 20s.

My wife and I started in our 20s because that was what was right for us. You should do what's right for you.

Posted by: Bob | June 11, 2007 9:32 AM | Report abuse

One factor in the mix is the high cost of college. I had my children at age 32 and 37; my husband was 40 and 45. Next spring we will write out the last check to our first daughter's college ($45,000 a year). We'll get a year break and then begin that paying process all over again for our last child. My husband and I decided long ago that one of our goals for our children was for them to graduate from college with no debt. (We have observed how high debt derails so many young people's dreams and aspirations post-college.) Given our careers (law and academia) and the delayed financial rewards that come with extending one's education, it would have been impossible for us to launch our children debt-free if we would have had them when we were younger.

Posted by: Susan Jacobson | June 11, 2007 9:38 AM | Report abuse

I'll concede that I'm biased towards younger, because that's what I am and it's worked out pretty well. And I've traded carefree and single in my mid-late 20s for carefree and empty nest in my late 40s-early 50s.

Having kids younger also does have some benefits, provided many caveats (all things being equal, married young, chose to not have kids early, etc.) -
If you have kids starting at 25 instead of 35, assuming you live the same length of time, you'll be able to enjoy them for 10 years longer.
Starting early means not paying for college in your mid-50s (peak retirement savings years), and not having to worry about paying for college and take care of elderly parents
A silly one - not having to face the "parent or grandparent?" question

Posted by: ATL Dad | June 11, 2007 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Susan -

You raise a very valid point! It's very true for people going to college now, and doubly so for people who get advanced degrees. College is so expensive now that many people aren't out of debt until well into their 30s. The financial side is definitely an important consideration. That is one case where waiting has definite advantages.

Kids are expensive enough on their own. Adding your own college debt on top of that can be daunting, much less wanting to save for their college as well.

And this is not even touching trying to buy a house in the DC area, saving for your own retirement, etc.

In a perfect world, financial considerations could be left out of the decision to have children. Unfortunately, we don't live in that place.

Posted by: ATL Dad | June 11, 2007 9:47 AM | Report abuse

I think mid-20s is good.

That gives you time to finish college and get a start on a career. But it's early enough that you don't get caught up in the "I needs" which can make you think you should delay parenthood.

Babies don't need a lot to get started and it's easier when you haven't become accustomed to a dual-income/no kids lifestyle. Once you get caught up in the new car/bigger house spiral it's hard to set $300-500 a month aside for college.


Plus you'll have more time with your Grandkids.

Posted by: RoseG | June 11, 2007 9:47 AM | Report abuse

This is nothing but a flame war bait.

I think this question is no more reasonable than asking:

What ethnicity makes a better parent?

It's no different and Stacie is every bit as prejudiced asking about age as she would be asking about race.

So how about it Stacie? You asked a horrible question like "what age" then why not ask "What ethnicity?" It's only a little more horrible.

Posted by: DCer | June 11, 2007 9:48 AM | Report abuse

ISTM that "DCer" is the one here trying to start a flamewar; everyone else appears to be discussing the subject rationally, politely and intelligently, without trying to judge or attack anyone else's choices.

Posted by: John L | June 11, 2007 10:00 AM | Report abuse

"it's hard to set $300-500 a month aside for college."

Who thinks they need to set aside $300 to $500 a month for college?

Oh yeah, The big car, big house people!

Posted by: Father of 4 | June 11, 2007 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Actually, the fact that I'm putting away $500/mo for the kids' college funds means I can't have a big car/big house! :-)

But I'm cool with that. In the education vs. material-things battle, education always wins in my house.

Posted by: to Fo4 | June 11, 2007 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Fof4

I have the big car, the big house and the kids' education is fully funded. Why is that a problem for you?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 11, 2007 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Having kids is overrated. The population in the US has doubled since I was born (1967)! If you actually enjoy being around kids, there are tons of 'em being ignored by their biological parents. Save your money and spend time with them (nieces, nephews, Big Brother, Big Sister, etc).

Posted by: Alan | June 11, 2007 10:28 AM | Report abuse

I had my first at 28 and will have my second at 31. I was married at 25. This is what was best for us. I think it's important to have kids earlier since there are more birth defects and problems in children with older parents. It was also really easy for me to get pregnant both times. Though we may not be as financially secure now as we will be when I am 35, I think people that wait until they have a certain amount of wealth, a big house, etc. before they have kids are missing out on the bigger picture. Babies don't need that much, and just b/c we don't have a house yet doesn't mean we'll never have one. I would rather have kids than a fancy car and big house, but that's just me.

Posted by: Emmy | June 11, 2007 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Who thinks they need to set aside $300 to $500 a month for college?

Oh yeah, The big car, big house people!
------

I had no idea how to answer this one either. I'm putting aside about $1100 per month for my retirement and that's seriously maxing out my budget. If I put an additional $500 per month for my kids' tuition I'd be entirely broke. I've got $10k per kid and will probably let that gain interest in the next 15 years. When they go to school I'll co-sign a loan with them and help them pay it off or else hope the nest eggs they have will carry them through.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 11, 2007 10:33 AM | Report abuse

My mother had me (her oldest of three) at 19, and I have always been aware of the joys and agonies of having a family early. Divorce and constant money problems are everlong reminders of the difficulties of an early (and unstable) family, but having "grown up" with my mother, having so many wonderful (and difficult) years together has made us so close. I would never trade our closeness for anything.

I was sure that I would start my own family between the ages of 22 and 26, a happy compromise of stability and youth. Life has plotted a different course for me, and now I am 30 and without a child. Will I be one of the many women starting a family later and later in life? I don't want to be, honestly. My mind may change (as it seems so many do), but I think that if I can't start a family with a life partner by the time I'm 35, then I just won't.

Posted by: Elaine | June 11, 2007 10:37 AM | Report abuse

I'm 30. Would have loved to be in a position to be having kids around now. But, I'm single. When we have children is not always in our own control, so please don't speak negatively of people who have children later. Sometimes it's the only way we can go. Dating is hard enough.

Posted by: Arlington | June 11, 2007 10:38 AM | Report abuse

I have three kids, two boys and one girl. I had them when I was 28, 31, and 38. I will say that hands down, I had a LOT more energy at 28 than 38! It is true, though, that there is no PERFECT time, and every situation is unique. I will say that I was never REALLY ready for any of them! Having kids changes your life SO MUCH that there is no way to be 100% ready no matter what your age. The least ready are those people, who when they're still single, are the most sure that THEY know how to raise kids the best way having had absolutely no experience other than maybe babysitting a niece or nephew for the evening! They are in for a real shock! 24/7 responsiblity for another human being is a whole new ball game no matter what your age or how much money you have.

Posted by: MomOf3 | June 11, 2007 10:38 AM | Report abuse

I think it's such an individual decision. Some people are ready to take on the responsibility of raising a family in their 20s. I know I certainly was not. I am 33 now and am engaged. I am just now at the point where I think I could tackle being responsible for juggling a career and raising kids. It still seems overwhelming to me, which is why I read blogs like this. I find useful tidbits from time to time. But, in my 20s, I was definitely more focused on going out and having fun. Not on raising a productive member of societey. LOL! :)

Posted by: Lilly | June 11, 2007 10:44 AM | Report abuse

I had my only daughter at age 33. I could not have started much earlier because I did not even meet my husband till I was 30. Sometimes the timing of your children is not exactly in your control. There are definite pros and cons to having kids at different ages. I do think if I was in a position to have them younger, I would have had more energy and a chance at having a second one. I also would have been more relaxed. But on the other hand, having them later means, I am more patient, more financially stable, and more child focused. I also want to say there is nothing wrong with people planning for their children's college education if they can afford to. Why do you have a problem with this fo4?

Posted by: foamgnome | June 11, 2007 10:57 AM | Report abuse

I think having children when you are younger has alot of advantages. Unfortunately, when people in their 20's they choose to not have kids because they are choosing to spend their time "having fun."(going to bars, long string of bad relationships, trying to decide what they want to do with their lives) I think having children when you are younger, with a family support system forces young people to act more mature and make better decisions for their life. I believe that if you raise your kids when you are young and have your freetime when you are in your 50's you can better appreciate that time that time. Financially it is very possible to afford kids when you are young if you make decisions to better your life.
I am in my late 20's and I live a life that most people in their 40's are still working on because me and my husband made better decisions because we had a family.

My husband is from a home in which he had a older father and although he may have been wiser, his father died from a heart attack when he was 16. Having kids when you are older comes with great risk even if you appear to be in excellent health. I think waiting till you are in your 30's is certainly fine but when you are in your 40's the question you should be asking yourself is if you really want to have kids.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 11, 2007 11:21 AM | Report abuse

If we're definitely having kids, I do wish we'd had them earlier (maybe late 20s) but I didn't get married until I was 28 (I'm now 31). However, it appears there may be a few fertility issues and I've sort of decided that if I don't have kids in the next couple of years either through some treatment or adoption, I'm just not going to do it at all.

Posted by: Arlington | June 11, 2007 11:29 AM | Report abuse

anon @ 11:29,

Speaking as one of those people trying to have a child in their 40's, I can assure you that not all of us already have one foot in the grave. As long as you've taken care of yourself prior to the 40's, there's no reason why becoming a parent in that decade would be a problem.

Posted by: John L | June 11, 2007 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Unfortunately, when people in their 20's they choose to not have kids because they are choosing to spend their time "having fun."(going to bars, long string of bad relationships, trying to decide what they want to do with their lives)
---

that's a lot of imagining, isn't it? I don't remember a string of bad relationships, but I'm sure glad I didn't get stuck in my original dead-end career path- finding myself allowed me to go back to grad school (a true impossibility with 2 kids under 5), find the right company, make that nest egg, buy that house, then get married and start a family. If I did it backwards: have a kid, then get married, then buy a house, then find a good career how would that help?

Posted by: DCer | June 11, 2007 11:43 AM | Report abuse

I think everyone is ignoring the wide variations in energy levels/wisdom/financial security to be found at just about every age. My husband and I met when I was 23 and he was 38. We didn't get married until we wanted to have a child (at 36 and 51) and had our child when I was 37 (nearly 38) and he was 53. We are both fit and active and so far don't see a whole lot of difference between us and our younger colleagues having children except that we are much more financially stable than we were when we met (just out of school -undergrad and grad). If we had chronic health conditions, I agree it could have been worse. Once we found the child to be free of chromosomal abnormalities and I had the world's easiest pregnancy, it's been a pretty normal situation.

Another advantage I now have over my past younger self is a large amount of flexibility about where and how I get my work done because I am established and have an excellent track record.

Posted by: MaryB | June 11, 2007 11:49 AM | Report abuse

John L

"Speaking as one of those people trying to have a child in their 40's, I can assure you that not all of us already have one foot in the grave."

You are middle aged in your 40s. Isn't that one foot in the grave?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 11, 2007 11:52 AM | Report abuse

My mom had me at 34, which was kind of late to have kids twenty-something years ago (she threw a fit when the doctor put "elderly primapartum" on her chart and made them change it). My sister and brother came two years later. My parents aren't really the rough-and-tumble athletic kind anyway, so their "advanced" age didn't matter much in that regard, and having two parents who've both done a good deal of living and learning was a priceless experience. It's funny sometimes, though, as I have a friend who's five years younger than I am, whose father is *twenty years* younger than my parents.

Personally, I can't imagine having kids much before 35, mostly because I think it'll take that long before I'm settled, financially secure, and hopefully partnered. Seeing as how an American woman's current life expectancy is in the mid-eighties, I think fifty years will be enough time for my kids and grandkids to enjoy me.

Posted by: popslashgirl | June 11, 2007 11:59 AM | Report abuse

The best time to become a parent is when you get pregnant.

Posted by: sumlukelark | June 11, 2007 12:05 PM | Report abuse

I find older first time parents very nervous and uptight- they've waited so long for a baby that they just cannot relax.

Posted by: Tucker | June 11, 2007 07:24 AM

It's the parents in their 20s who are calling home and talking with their parents to ask basic childcare questions rather than doing it their own way. Don't have kids 'til you can make decisions about raising them without consulting your family committee. Older first time parents are secure in what they're doing. Less anxious parents make for good parents.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 11, 2007 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Or adopt

Posted by: sumlukelark | June 11, 2007 12:07 PM | Report abuse

"I also want to say there is nothing wrong with people planning for their children's
college education if they can afford to. Why do you have a problem with this fo4?"

Foamy, where did you get the impression that I had a problem with people who live in big houses and drive big cars saving for their child's education?

However, if you want me to make something up, here goes:

I do think that putting stringent requirements on high levels of education to fulfill placement for higher paying jobs is a way of keeping the rich people rich... and the poor people poor.

Not that I have a problem with this either...

Posted by: Father of 4 | June 11, 2007 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Father of 4

Learn how to write!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 11, 2007 12:13 PM | Report abuse

I do think that putting stringent requirements on high levels of education to fulfill placement for higher paying jobs is a way of keeping the rich people rich... and the poor people poor.
-----
My wife has about 12 blue collar cousins:
1. Journeyman plumber (union certification)
2. Master Electrician (union certification)
3. ASE-certified auto mechanic
4. Some kind of barber's license

every job worth having has gatekeeping requirements, not just college degrees.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 11, 2007 12:15 PM | Report abuse

By the way, my wife and I did it both ways. Our first two were in our mid 20's and the last one in our very late 30's. All are college grads now, employed and are wonderful adults. I wish we had had more.

Posted by: sumluykelark | June 11, 2007 12:20 PM | Report abuse

I don't like the concept of a "perfect age," because it just leads to recriminations and self- punishment if you are on either side of that ideal number!

The very concept of a "perfect age" makes it sound like you have a lot of choices on when you will conceive. I completely disagree! Most of my friends are astonished to be in their low 30's and still single. They wanted to meet the right man or woman and get married in their late 20's, but it just hasn't happened. So much for being "young moms" and for the idea of your perfect age for starting a family. This may not be true across the country, but in the major cities it seems just finding the right person to marry is taking a long time.

I just got married at 32 and feel incredible pressure to start thinking of a family. I've found that couples that get married in their low 30's have to do everything twice as fast! We were engaged after 6 months and got married on our one year anniversary. And already, everyone is asking about when we will have kids!

Personally, I was not ready (no where close) to think of children until I turned 30. Too many other questions about what I wanted my life to be. For those who are mature enough at 24 to think they are ready to have kids, I applaud you....although I honestly couldn't have even considered that choice back then.

In today's society, it seems to me like your 20's is now considered a late adolescence! With Paris Hilton crying for her mom at age 26, etc. Most of my friends are still treated as children by their boomer parents, even after the age of 30. To me, it seems we are treating young adults like children for longer, which will delay their own process of growth and thinking of starting their own families. Compound that with college debt reaching into your 30's, self-absorption and career building as a focus into your 30's, and its easy to see why parenting is being pushed back so far.

So, maybe biologically/energy-wise the best time is between 25 and 35, but financially/emotionally/socially your 30's and 40's also has a lot of advantages.

Posted by: NHC | June 11, 2007 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Thank you for this discussion topic. My fiance and I will be 28/29 when we wed next year, and we've been talking a lot about when we'd like to start a family.

It's definitely helpful to hear both sides. I'll be graduating from law school and starting a new career at 30, so the pregnancy timing is really up in the air. Do we try in our early 30s and risk me getting "mommy-tracked" before I can get established? Do we wait until I'm more settled and then cross our fingers for a healthy mom and baby? What if I discover that I LOVE children and resent having to work crazy hours at a firm in order to pay off my enormous student loans?

Part of me thinks it would've been easier in my early 20s when I was in entry level positions on a different career track. Oh well.

Posted by: Soon to be wed | June 11, 2007 12:32 PM | Report abuse

To Soon to be wed -- I got married at 24, graduated law school at 26, had kids at 28 and 30. I was definitely mommy-tracked for a time, but in my experience (not at a huge firm) that track lasted only as long as I needed it to last. Now at 34, I am a partner. Follow your heart, and it will all turn out fine.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 11, 2007 12:37 PM | Report abuse

What about the trend of people having kids both young and old? My husband has a friend who is 51 and on his second marriage. He has two daughters from his first marriage that are in their 20's. And he now has two sons, aged 2 and 5, with his second wife. We personally think he is nuts! Maybe if he dies while they are still young (both parents are heavy smokers), he thinks his older kids will act as surrogate parents!

Posted by: CJB | June 11, 2007 12:42 PM | Report abuse

"What about the trend of people having kids both young and old?"

What about the trend of you minding your own business?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 11, 2007 12:47 PM | Report abuse

"What about the trend of people having kids both young and old?"

What about the trend of you minding your own business?

Posted by: | June 11, 2007 12:47 PM

Meow! Wow, saucer of milk, table for two. Did CJB stike a nerve? I mean, isnt the point of this blog to share our opinions?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 11, 2007 12:50 PM | Report abuse

My husband and are trying now (I'm 34, he's 38)- we got married 3 years ago and wanted to spend some time alone. In a perfect world, I would have had kids in my early 20's. I felt better, looked better and wanted my kids to have young parents - I did, and loved it when I was little. My mom was 21 when she had me and I thought it was super cool that my parents were young. In hindsight, though, their youth contributed to the fact that they were lousy parents. It wasn't the ONLY reason, of course, but it helped. So, maybe I can bring something to the table at 34+ that my parents couldn't at 21 and 23.

I thought the right time had passed me by - but in the end, I'll do my best.

Posted by: AWP in TN | June 11, 2007 12:56 PM | Report abuse

I was one month shy of turning 43 when I had my one and only child - a perfect little boy. I had journeyed through life searching for a man who would be an equal partner in my life, and deliberately searching for a man who would make a wonderful father. I found that person late in life. Having my son is absolutely, positively, and thoroughly the greatest joy ever. I just wish I had started this experience earlier so that I could have enjoyed many more years, but then again, I would not have been blessed with my remarkable partner, and my son who warms my heart in ways I never could have imagined.

It all comes down to personal choice. I had my son when I needed him most.

Posted by: Tracey | June 11, 2007 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Having had both our girls in our early 20s, it was tough and in looking back, I am amazed that we were able to put the girls thru college - we paid for it and paid for both their weddings.
Having said that, it was true money was always an issue and but for my wife keeping a tight control on the budget, we would have run into problems.
Now at a young 48, we are grandparents and still young enough to run around with the grandkids.
This was our choice and we are now reaping its benifits.

Posted by: Suku John | June 11, 2007 1:04 PM | Report abuse

"What about the trend of people having kids both young and old?"

What about the trend of you minding your own business?

Posted by: | June 11, 2007 12:47 PM

I thought the point of this blog was to give our opinion? I guess I should be used to the negative posts that come out every single day on this (and other) blogs, but I don't understand them. For what it is worth, the people I was referring to live in another state, and the opinions my husband and I have about their parenting decisions are kept between us.

Posted by: CJB | June 11, 2007 1:06 PM | Report abuse

28 years ago yesterday i had my first child. i was 19. my third, and last, child was born before i was 30. this fall all three of my children will be 20 an up and i will be 48. this is a great age to be a parent.
but so was 19.

Posted by: methinks | June 11, 2007 1:08 PM | Report abuse

We chose to have kids while in grad school figuring that we were fairly unsettled (moving for fellowships, etc...)and had flexible schedules. Kids need very little to start out and quite portable as babies.

This worked out really well, by the time we were both done, kids were 2 and 5 when we eased into careers and settled down, bought the house and got involved in school/sports/activities.

Now kids are teens and we are able to pursue more of our individual career and personal goals. Hopefully they will all be out of college in the next 6 years leaving us with 20+ years to save up for retirement.

It wasn't our ages but rather our circumstances which drove our decision making. Some one making a career change or going back to school might very successfully combine the two - I know lots of others who did the same including a friend who gave birth the day she finished her law school finals!

Posted by: Rockville | June 11, 2007 1:22 PM | Report abuse

My mom had me when she was 39 and my dad was 35. I didn't like having older parents. They seemed so out of touch with me and my generation. I came of age in the 70s.
I wanted to have children early. I had my two daughters, 20 months apart, when I was in my 20s. My husband and I were always broke, but who isn't when you have kids.
Now I'm 50, and my husband and I are having the time of our lives.
One daughter is married. Both are college graduates and involved with their careers.
They are choosing to have children later than me, fully knowing that the older you are the harder it is to get pregnant.
It's all a matter of choices and living with them.

Posted by: Had it both ways | June 11, 2007 1:25 PM | Report abuse

I know several women who had their first child in their 40s who decided to retire and stay home - they feel they did the career thing and now want to just parent and maybe volunteer - but no intention to return to a career.

They had all reached a high level in their fields of medicine, dentistry, marketing, and two in public health administration. They are all very happy with their choice several years later and don't miss their old careers.

Posted by: Good to have options | June 11, 2007 1:27 PM | Report abuse

I had a mom that was 41 when she had me. This was in 1973 so most people back then were still having kids in their 20's. I remember being embarassed about having an older mom as she was so out of touch with the times. I wanted to have my kids in my 20's when I grew up. I had my daughter at 22. I am glad to have her as a younger mom as I had the energy to run around with her. I also still remember what it is like to be a kid. When issues come up I can talk to her from a perspective of greater understanding, although I still get "that was the 80's things are different now". I see the older parents being very judgemental of my decision to have a kid in my 20's. I am deffinately one of the youngest moms where I live. My husband and I just shrug off the snide remarks and laugh to ourselves that we will be 40 when our daugter graduates, not trying to retire.

Posted by: California Mom | June 11, 2007 1:32 PM | Report abuse

I would have started a lot younger if I had been married. When I was 29 and beginning to think serriously about adoption, I got to know a number of women who waited until closer to 40 before adopting, and I knew that I didn't want to wait that long. As it was, it took me until I was 34 before I was able to complete an adoption. But if I had adopted earlier, I never would have gotten the daughters I was blessed with, so it has all worked out in the end.

Posted by: single mother by choice | June 11, 2007 1:33 PM | Report abuse

anon @ 11:52,

I suppose some might consider the mid-40's as "one foot in the grave", but not me. Maybe you do though, and that's fine, AFAIC, how you approach aging is as important as your physical health anyway. Since my family (especially my father's side) has a lot of long-lived people, I look forward to being around for a long, long time.

Posted by: John L | June 11, 2007 1:35 PM | Report abuse

I had my kids at 26, 30, 32, and 36. For my wife, subtract a year.

One thing to consider if you want a multi-kid family. As you get older and slower with less energy, the older kids can start helping out with the younger kids as well as do household chores.

I don't plan on mowing my lawn for another 14 years at least.

Here's a KQ (Kiddie Quote) that was overheard earlier todayfrom my 4 year old son that was accused of having "girl legs" by his older sister:

"I DON'T have girl legs! They both have hair on them!"

Posted by: Father of 4 | June 11, 2007 1:44 PM | Report abuse

The critical dilemma about parental timing, I think, is that the best time physically to have children is generally the worst time financially to do so. There's a real economic penalty for women who have children at a younger age. And, lest anyone dismiss these economic questions as merely the concerns of greedy yuppies trying to buy bigger and more SUVs and McMansions and fancy vacations, let me point out that the real (inflation-adjusted) cost of many essentials, such as housing, college educations and health care, has increased much from prior generations. Also, job security and retirement security aren't what they used to be.
So you get this situation of responsible adults trying to become reasonably financially secure before they have children, but that age at which they feel reasonably financially secure has advanced considerably.
(By the way, this reference to the "best time physically" is no dis to all you older mothers out there. I'm one myself, and I know that plenty of 40-something mothers can be pretty energetic and youthful. I'm talking more about generalities here.)

Posted by: anon mom | June 11, 2007 1:57 PM | Report abuse

The critical dilemma about parental timing, I think, is that the best time physically to have children is generally the worst time financially to do so. There's a real economic penalty for women who have children at a younger age. And, lest anyone dismiss these economic questions as merely the concerns of greedy yuppies trying to buy bigger and more SUVs and McMansions and fancy vacations, let me point out that the real (inflation-adjusted) cost of many essentials, such as housing, college educations and health care, has increased much from prior generations. Also, job security and retirement security aren't what they used to be.
So you get this situation of responsible adults trying to become reasonably financially secure before they have children, but that age at which they feel reasonably financially secure has advanced considerably.
(By the way, this reference to the "best time physically" is no dis to all you older mothers out there. I'm one myself, and I know that plenty of 40-something mothers can be pretty energetic and youthful. I'm talking more about generalities here.)

Posted by: anon mom | June 11, 2007 1:58 PM | Report abuse

I agree with California Mom that many older parents are judgmental when they realize you had yours in your early 20s. I've had some incredibly rude comments from other parents and from teachers.

Also, to Susan Jacobsen -- I had mine at 21. Didn't graduate from law school until she was in third grade, which gave me ten years to save for college. Was a single parent at the time. Managed to save enough to send her through an Ivy League college, from which she graduated without any debt. Also, managed two trips to Europe and three to Asia before she went to college, in addition to a few domestic vacations. How?? Bought a tiny house, drove an old car, never bought lunch at work or coffee at Starbucks, and saved like mad!

Posted by: anon | June 11, 2007 1:59 PM | Report abuse

(Sorry about the double post. Damned newfangled typing machine-thing! In my day, we used good old pen and ink. . .)

Posted by: anon mom | June 11, 2007 2:00 PM | Report abuse

"It's the parents in their 20s who are calling home and talking with their parents to ask basic childcare questions rather than doing it their own way."

Probably because they are young enough that their parents are still alive!! Perhaps it's just a part of the overly individualistic American culture, but what's wrong with asking for help and advice from more experienced people? Isn't that what we do in the workplace all the time? I'd be more concerned about the older parents who don't know anymore than the younger ones about parenting, but have developed too many hangups and issues by that age to ask for advice!

Also, I think this trend towards overinvolvement in children's lives is really a fallout from the older parent trend. The younger parents are much more relaxed and a lot less stressed out about every little niggling thing.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 11, 2007 2:06 PM | Report abuse

When I was a junior in college, my roommate and I visited her older sister, an LA celebrity trainer whose clientle were women from pregnancy to two-years, post-birth. She told us that having your first child before 27 made all the difference in your post-pregnancy body. Of course, I decided right then that I would have my first child by 27. I am now 30 and will almost certainly turn 32 before I have a child.

My now-husband and I met when I was 19, but we did not marry until we were 29 and 32. Yes, we went to law school, we focused obsessively on our careers for a few years, we have enviable financial security. But none of those were the reasons we have not yet had kids.

The reason is simply that, whatever our ages said about where we should be in having kids, our lives were not kid-ready. And, we could not have made our lives kid-ready simply by making different choices. (People really, really love telling us that, BTW, "life is about choices, and you could have been kid-ready if you had made different choices.")

We simply needed more time to ensure (1) that we wanted children; (2) that we had consistent philosophies about child-rearing, given our very different childhoods; (3) that we had finished clearing up our individual issues; and (4) that we were where we needed to be as a couple to take on such a huge thing.

I worry that when people talk about the "best" age to have a child--not on this board, in society and the media--we may emphasize the age factor over other factors that are more significant.

Posted by: Stay@Home Mom with No Kids | June 11, 2007 2:10 PM | Report abuse

I hope the "perfect age" is after 27, because that's all that's available to me anymore!

I think it's great that deciding when to have kids is even an option now. In the past a woman who married in her teens might have given birth in her teens, twenties, thirties and forties.

Posted by: Who Knows? | June 11, 2007 2:12 PM | Report abuse

We had our two always very healthy kids in our 20s with no regrets, except, maybe, not having a third.

I would suggest that there are many good reasons for waiting, but money is not one of them. Lack of money keeps things simple with kids, and simple is very, very good. There was as much love and fun in our little two story townhouse starter home as there is in our larger home. As for energy, my various ailments now in my 50s would have precluded some wonderful activities with my kids if I had waited. Now that they are going to college, I will have new adventures which, frankly, look at least as good as those experienced by my older parent friends, before they had kids.

Posted by: V | June 11, 2007 2:14 PM | Report abuse

"I know several women who had their first child in their 40s who decided to retire and stay home - they feel they did the career thing and now want to just parent and maybe volunteer - but no intention to return to a career. "

Must be nice to quit working whenever you feel like it! Who is paying the freight for this and where do I sign up?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 11, 2007 2:16 PM | Report abuse

I just had my first child at 39 and love life. Feel like my energy level is pretty high and I'm ready for more (once my wife is). I spent so much time chasing my career, thinking everything else could wait. Now I realize my job will never be satisfying enough. Loving life.

Posted by: Bob | June 11, 2007 2:20 PM | Report abuse

V -- very well said! I never regret missing out on the "fun, single, childless 20's" because I'm busy enjoying the "fun, married, kid-graduated-from-college 40s!"

Posted by: anon | June 11, 2007 2:23 PM | Report abuse

My husband and I are in our early thirties and do not have children. In our late-twenties, we decided that if we "just didn't get around" to having kids by our late-thirties, we would adopt a three or four child, biological sibling group, the hardest group of non-newborn children to place for adoption.

We laugh that we would immediately go from being "old," first-time parents, to relatively young parents based on our oldest's age, to having our last somewhat late in life. In other words, with a sibling group ranging from say, two to twelve, I would become a first time parent at 39, yet, have "had" my first at a relatively average 27, but my youngest no until 37, with a couple in between.

The prospective grandmas laugh at the idea of us suddenly chasing four kids, desparately trying to apply all of our perfectly developed stategies for uber-parenting.

Posted by: Jill | June 11, 2007 2:25 PM | Report abuse

I HAD to mention my neighbor here. She had kids young, her husband left her at least 10 years ago and her youngest is going to be a high school senior. As near as we can tell her boyfriend accidentally got her pregnant. Why hasn't she posted here? She won't have freedom in her twenties OR her forties. We'll see how happy she is about this when she admits to us she's expecting.

Posted by: DCer | June 11, 2007 2:38 PM | Report abuse

I had my first at 24 and second at 27. My FIL encouraged me to have kids while young since his parents were much older when he was born and he hated it. The problem though, is both my husband and I didn't finish school BEFORE kids so we juggled working, raising kids, and college all at the same time. I would NOT recommend doing that. Too stressful. The marriage ended in divorce after 20 years.....

ironically, the ex remarried and now has a baby at age 42. It is ironic because a lot of our marriage problems surrounded OUR children and his lack of attention and energy towards them. If he lacked energy at a younger age - it will be interesting for him to have more energy at an older age. However, this is not my problem. I have lots of energy in my 40's; probably more than my 20's. However, I couldn't imagine having a baby and all the work associated with raising a kid at my age. When I go to sleep at night - I can stay asleep.... except for my 17 year old knocking on my bedroom door the other morning at 4 a.m. in a T.P. (tiolet paper) crisis. LOL!

Posted by: C.W. | June 11, 2007 2:49 PM | Report abuse

"My husband and I are in our early thirties and do not have children. In our late-twenties, we decided that if we "just didn't get around" to having kids
by our late-thirties, we would adopt a three or four child, biological sibling group, the hardest group of non-newborn children to place for adoption."

Jill, the reason it is so difficult to place a 3 or 4 sibling to adoptive parents is because it is very difficult to find a couple fit enough to be able to handle the situation. Unless you have significant experience raising your own kids, I seriously doubt the adoption agency will grant you your wish. Do you realize what you are asking for with this request?

Posted by: Father of 4 | June 11, 2007 2:57 PM | Report abuse

"I know several women who had their first child in their 40s who decided to retire and stay home - they feel they did the career thing and now want to just parent and maybe volunteer - but no intention to return to a career. "

Must be nice to quit working whenever you feel like it! Who is paying the freight for this and where do I sign up?
....
Regarding the above exchange: I have a close relative in that exact situation. So, as to the question about who is paying the "freight" for this, the answer is -- she is! She worked very hard in her earlier years to establish a career and make LOTS of money, then had kids in her 40s and recently retired from a very high-paying executive position. She has lots of money saved up, and is also still working part-time as a (very highly paid) consultant. Between her investment earnings and her consulting gigs, she makes more than enough money to raise her children. Actually, plenty of money. I wish I could make about a tenth of her income, actually. This is the financial strategy that worked for her, though it's not likely to work for most of us.
It's not just women who follow this front-loading strategy of making lots of money early in life, then retiring at a relatively young age to raise kids and pursue personal interests. Some men do it as well. Though, as I pointed out, it's not a strategy for everybody -- you have to work like crazy and have a special skill or talent that is especially lucrative. If you look at retired professional athletes -- male and female -- many took this career-parenting, one-thing-at-a-time path.

Posted by: in response | June 11, 2007 2:58 PM | Report abuse

It's true that parents of many different ages can rear children successfully, as well as parents in a variety of financial situations. I'm 23, just had a child in March, graduated with a bachelors a month later, and my husband has a year to go before he gets his undergraduate (he is 24). We were planning to get pregnant, and we hope to have several more children. We're not financially stable by any stretch of the imagination, but we are careful with our income and we are happy to give up many of the conveniences and leisure experiences we might have had for the child we have now and his future siblings.

I'm the middle child of nine; my oldest brother was born when my mother was my age. My parents have never had much money to spare. They never were able to start college funds (can you imagine $300 a month for each?), and yet four of us are college graduates (with three more paying their own way or on scholarship). We knew that college was crucial and if we wanted to go, we would pay our own way. Ultimately, for us the money (or lack thereof) didn't matter much; the greatest impact was made by their committment to us and each other and the overwhelming importance they placed on our family. My parents aren't rich and likely never will be, but they have nine good, hardworking kids who love each other. The point is, you don't have to have lots of money, or be a certain age to have a family (though I imagine a little extra cash never hurt any household budget). Simply put, there are more important things to worry about.

Posted by: with a babe in arms | June 11, 2007 2:59 PM | Report abuse

As a child of a father who had me young (age 22) and then went on to have kids with his second wife (age 48) I can see the pros and cons of both sides. I'm sure with me there was more energy, but there was also financial instability (both parents were still in college) and a rocky marriage that ended in divorce. Now I see him so devoted to his younger kids, but also always so exhausted. As he's advanced in his career it has become more and more demanding, and having a 5 year old and 2 year old at home makes the strain on his time quite difficult.

As I prepare for marriage this year, I'll be 28 and looking to start a family in the next couple years. It is the timing that works for me, but I also hope to strike a nice balance between 22 and vivacious and 48 and exhausted.

But more than anything, I agree with every poster who said the best time to have kids is when you are ready. If you don't want them, don't have them, and if you do--go for it.

Posted by: RCT | June 11, 2007 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Reviewing some of the comments, I'm kind of surprised at the judgmentalism.
I'm an older mother. There are advantages and disadvantages to that. One of the advantages, I believe, is my friendships with much-younger parents whose kids are the contempories of my kids. Hanging out with these younger parents, just like hanging out with our young kids, is a plus, as far as I'm concerned. It's good for the generations and the age groups to mix it up a bit and not just stick with their own. (I remember my dad, who was approaching 50 when his youngest child was born, always attributed his youthful attitude to his kids.)
Now, I just hope the young folk don't think I'm some kind of old fogey!
;)

Posted by: anon mom | June 11, 2007 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Father of 4

"Jill, the reason it is so difficult to place a 3 or 4 sibling to adoptive parents is because it is very difficult to find a couple fit enough to be able to handle the situation."

Right, like you know anything about adoption! What a know-nothing windbag!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 11, 2007 3:10 PM | Report abuse

We had our first child at 19/20, our second at 20/21, and our third at 38/39. None of them were "planned." With the first two we were young and broke and taking college classes at night. We sometimes robbed their piggy banks to buy milk and bread. Now we're older and much more settled in our careers, own a home, etc. One just finished her Master's, one is at a military Academy, and our youngest is in daycare.
Which was the best age? With the first two we didn't even stop to think about what we were doing, we simply did what had to be done. Now we can look at our youngest and we know without a doubt that he's our last child. We're much more relaxed and intent on simply enjoying him. We don't have the same energy that we once did, but we tease that when we retire he can go on vacations with us!

Posted by: DC | June 11, 2007 4:20 PM | Report abuse

late twenties is a great time, I think. it's not too early: most people have finished with college education and gotten some amount of work experience by then. it's not too late: no worrying about IVF and ovulation monitors.

my attitude was that I would have to have a VERY good reason not to have had child#1 by age 30. Good reasons for me included serious illness of either spouse, serious financial trouble close to bankruptcy etc. It did not include 'its not the right time' ' i have to finish yet another graduate degree' 'we both have jobs but there's not enough money'. these are reasons that will never go away. the dominant thinking at least among the educated elite is you keep waiting because later is better. I don't think these people are thinking about what it will be like not only to have less energy later, but also to be paying for college tuition and retirement within the same decade.

i had kids at age 28 and 31. i took some time off my career and stayed home for a few years, then went back. today at age 36 with both kids in school, I am really thankful. both my children will be in college before I am 50, we will be able to pay for college and still retire at a decent age.

Posted by: ap | June 11, 2007 4:27 PM | Report abuse

I had both my kids after age 40 with their dad 7 years older than me. We think it's the best time. We are both secure in our jobs, we have lots of resources, and we are really enjoying our kids. I'm 54 now, and the available energy is really based on your your own level of health. I'm healthy and on top of the world with my teens. I have friends my age who are grandparents - they seem older than me - they act older than me. Kids keep you young. Wait and enjoy them after you climb up the ladder.

Posted by: PG | June 11, 2007 4:46 PM | Report abuse

'I have friends my age who are grandparents - they seem older than me - they act older than me. Kids keep you young'

I have friends my age who are grandparents - they seem younger than me - they are not worn out from working and still raising children as I am. They are retired or working part time. Have more time to travel, they eat out more and go more places. family responsibilities are keeping us home now - we will fly later, if health holds out.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 11, 2007 4:56 PM | Report abuse

I feel like shouting this from the rooftops: If you think you want kids, don't wait around for the time to be "right" - you may end up robbing yourself of any opportunity. My husband and I wanted to wait until we felt emotionally and financially "ready" to have kids. I felt "ready" a couple of years before my husband did, and we had some terrible fights about it. I felt my biological clock ticking, my Ob/Gyn warned me about waiting too long, every mother I knew said "you'll never really be ready", and women in my family have a history of fertility problems. But my husband just could not believe that, given how healthy I've always been, I would have any problems. He thought I'd get pregnant the month after we stopped birth control. I was 36 when we finally started trying. 3 1/2 years, one miscarriage, many thousands of dollars, and an untold amount of heartache later, we are still trying. IVF attempt #3 will be next month. Women, show this to your partners if you need to - women's biology is the same as it's always been, and no modern medical technology will change that. Our fertility starts dropping fast at age 35, and egg viability ends in the first half of our 40's - and there's no way to know whether your fertility will end at 38 or 43 until it's gone. Fertility investigations take time, and if you wait too long, you cheat yourself out of that time. A lot of mistakes in life can be fixed. If you want your own (genetically) kids, and you wait too long, that mistake can never be fixed. Sure, it's ideal to approach motherhood with more wisdom and patience than many young women have, but the hard reality is biology cannot be trumped, and biology wants us to have children before our mid-thirties.

Posted by: Still trying at 40 | June 11, 2007 5:13 PM | Report abuse

I read somewhere recently that children born to mothers who had their first child after the age of 30 prosper more. I can't remember what context "prosper" referred to, or if the study was actually credible. I do remember that 30 was the magic age, though, which made me happy since I'm 29 and childless.

Posted by: stella | June 11, 2007 6:01 PM | Report abuse

I was a child of older parents (45/39) and loved it! They brought a profound richness of experience to their marriage, were full of history and wisdom, and were very grounded in their attitude towards life. When people mistook them for my grandparents (both went gray early), I just laughed and said "How silly you are." If they did not have boundless energy, we kids never knew it.
My husband and I have followed in their footsteps, indeed, in the family tradition of skipping a generation (my grandfather would have been 92 when I was born). The only down side appears to be that my parents aren't around for my kids to get to know and enjoy. However, I probably miss my parents more than the kids do, as I knew them longer. As for the "advanced" ages of my husband and me, to our children any parent seems old - infact, anyone over 21 is aged.
We accept and enjoy what we are, and don't obsess about it. There are many fine ways of doing nearly everything.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 11, 2007 6:09 PM | Report abuse

Re: Stay@Home Mom with No Kids's comment on the LA Trainer noting the difference in bodies after having kids is drastically different after 27. I just can't think that body image should ever really play a role in decisions to have and when to have kids. (Though I note that this was not your ultimate conclusion).

I'll be 33 when I have my first child and the reason my husband and I picked now is that we have been married for almost 3 years and we wanted to have a couple years to mature as a married couple first. If I got married younger, I'm sure I would have had kids younger...but I didn't. My goal was just to begin having kids before 35 (the scary age for me).

So few of my friends that are my age have kids...and everyone has different reasons...financial security, career, school, or just not having a stable enough marriage (or any marriage at all). As many of you have concluded...it is a very personal decision.

Posted by: Soon2bParent | June 11, 2007 6:27 PM | Report abuse

To poster at 11:21: I'm in my early 30s and chose not to have children in my 20s. I didn't (and don't) spend my time "going to bars, long string of bad relationships, trying to decide what they want to do with their lives." I am one of the more mature people that I know - I max out retirement, am almost done paying off staggering student loans, and managed to buy a house with 20% down and a traditional mortgage (rather than one of those more risky types). Just because you had kids early, doesn't mean you made better decisions or are more mature. Heck, most of the people I know that had kids in their 20s had "oops" children b/c they didn't use contraception (or didn't use it effectively) and are nowhere near mature enough to have kids.

My mother was 37 and my father was 40 when I was born. They're in their 70s now and still doing well. A friend of mine's parents are significantly younger and died early. The truth is that you just never can plan things like how long you'll be with your kids.

Posted by: To poster at 11:21 | June 11, 2007 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Hilarious question. The answer is very simple: the best time for a woman is in your teens. Yep, your teens. That's when your body is best prepared for concepting and childbearing. If you wait until you're in your 30s or 40s, you need fertility treatment because YOUR BODY IS TRYING TO TELL YOU SOMETHING.

But what you really mean by the question is, "How can we make ourselves feel better about our decisions to delay having children?"

Posted by: Alan Alda | June 11, 2007 11:06 PM | Report abuse

Our situation is a little unusual in that we adopted twins from Russia. I was 48 (now 52) and my wife was 36. The kids were 21 months when we brought them here. Age had been a consideration for us; a bit of math told us that. However the likelihood of Russian orphans being taken by anyone of any age anywhere was, and still is, very low. Add to this the fact that most Russia orphans who are not adopted die by 30, and the decision was pretty easy despite our ages (especially mine). For these children, older parents are better than none.

Wouldn't you know, though, my wife unexpectedly got pregnant a year later. We thought about abortion for about a millisecond. Now we have a 2-1/2-year-old son who along with his adopted brother and sister is the light of our life. I can't imagine this wonderful little boy never having been born because we decided we were too old to have him.

Fortunately, my wife and I are healthy, stable, well-educated, and financially in good shape. In a perfect world, we would be younger. But it's not a perfect world. And not every decision can be made with logic alone.

My advice is to make decisions about having children as responsibly as possible, with age being one of many factors to consider. Consult your heart too, as we did when deciding to proceed with my wife's pregnancy. Then if you decide to have children, cross your fingers and do the best you can.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 13, 2007 3:38 PM | Report abuse

I was the anonymous post at 03:38 PM. Didn't mean to post anonymously, just forgot to put my handle on (senior moment).

Posted by: DaddyMike | June 13, 2007 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Who said that older parents cannot enjoy their kids longer. Nowadays people live till their 80's and 90's, and are healthy to boot. So even if you have your kid at 40, you have 40 years to enjoy them.

Posted by: Happy | June 13, 2007 8:05 PM | Report abuse

I had kids at 28, 31 and (after three miscarriages) 41. I loved having my first two when I was still quite young; then I loved having the two older girls to share in raising the baby. As many people have said, it's highly individual and a lot of different arrangements can work out.

But I would second those who warn women not to assume they can keep postponing and postponing. I had no trouble conceiving or carrying a healthy pregnancy at 28 and 31, but by 36 (when we started trying again) my fertility had dropped dramatically. Infertility is incredibly stressful. Miscarriages are devastating, especially when you have one after another after another. This is definitely something to consider.

And so is the matter of giving your children the opportunity to know their grandparents--and yourself a chance to know your own grandchildren. Our third child is sad that she never met the grandfather that her two older sisters loved so much, and that now, when she is a teenager, her two surviving grandparents are both over 85 and very frail. On the other hand, she has had a wonderful, very special relationship with her two big sisters, and they have had the great gift of knowing and loving her. And now she's going to be an aunt!

Posted by: episcomom | June 14, 2007 11:26 PM | Report abuse

Let me third what episcomom said.
I had no trouble getting pregnant and, at 45, giving birth to a new little brother for my family. And I have to admit, I was a pretty youthful 45 and am now a pretty youthful 49.
But I'm an exception. Just because I did it, and it's working out fine for me and my family, that doesn't mean that others should try to take this path.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 15, 2007 2:36 PM | Report abuse

My wife and I started trying when I was 32 and she was 29. 3 years later and 3 miscarriages later, we are still childless. I wish we would have had children sooner. But I honestly believe if we would have children when we first got married, that we would have got a divorce. I guess there is no perfect age and you should not second guess yourself because you never know what would have happened.

Posted by: Ftob | July 6, 2007 12:51 AM | Report abuse

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