Parents Over 40: What's Similar to Younger Parents and What's Different?

Adult working with toddler

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.

Bright Horizons
About the Author
Bright Horizons
Bright Horizons
In 1986, our founders saw that child care was an enormous obstacle for working parents. On-site centers became one way we responded to help employees – and organizations -- work better. Today we offer child care, elder care, and help for education and careers -- tools used by more than 1,000 of the world’s top employers and that power many of the world's best brands
Adult working with toddler