Parents Over 40: What's Similar to Younger Parents and What's Different?
Many parents are having their first child after age forty. A variety of very personal reasons can lead to delaying parenthood including postponing having a child due to career goals or difficulties becoming pregnant. Whatever the reason, and those reasons are yours alone, the percentage of babies born to moms over 40 is increasing, while the overall birth rate is declining, according to government data.
Whatever your age at the birth of your child, new parents are more alike than different.
We experience similar joys and challenges regardless of our age. Everyone falls in love with their child (regardless of how we show it) and everyone feels overwhelmed by parenting at some (or many) points in our lives.
And while it is impossible to generalize, these might be a few things that older parents share:
- If you are working outside the home, you may be at a point in your career where you have a little more independence in your work life than when you were in your 20’s.
- Parents over 40 talk about being able to take advantage of the life knowledge they have accumulated and applying that to parenting. While this will not apply to all, older parents are perhaps less idealistic and more realistic about parenting after watching challenges their friends and family faced before them. They may be able to be more deliberate and planful as parents. Some describe themselves as being able to appreciate parenting a little more than those younger.
- Conversely, some parents worry that being older may make it more challenging to keep up with young children. You will need to take good care of yourself to keep your energy level up. Being active together with your children is a great way to do this.
- Older parents say it sometimes feels challenging at social gatherings with other families, when you are among the older of the parents. You may not feel like you share a lot of the same interests with younger parents.
A few suggestions follow as you navigate being an older parent:
- Remember each family is unique and different. You may not fit any of the stereotypes of older parents. Your family configuration is just right for you.
- Know your own limitations and where you need support. Seek out help when you need it whether it is a babysitter while you have time to yourself or time with your partner. (This is good advice for any parent!).
- Seek out other parents of your same age. Everyone needs others to talk to, listen and bounce ideas off of. If there aren't others at the social events you attend, you may be able to find an online community.
In general, parents of all ages are more alike than different in their joys and challenges. All parents benefit from others they can talk to and share successes and frustrations with and every parent, regardless of age, benefits from a good listener to serve as a sounding board.
- Psychology Today tackles the question - how important are age and energy in parenting?
- BabyCenter discusses the pros and cons of getting pregnant in your 40's and shares the personal stories of two women who were pregnant over 40
- Momatlast.com is a community of moms sharing their stories about becoming or trying to become a parent over age 40