I’m I too old to have a baby? What are my chances after age 40? Do I REALLY want to do this?
“Death and taxes and childbirth! There’s never a convenient time for any of them!” — Margaret Mitchell
Motherhood after age 40 has increased 241% between 1976 and 1996. While we all know that medical complications for a woman are more likely past age 40, the psychological ones tend to greatly diminish. The opposite is true for 20-something mothers. Reinvention of the self, including parenting for the first time, past age 40 is on the rise for some very good reasons. Many women, as they draw closer to menopause or simply middle age in general, take this powerful time of reflection to redirect their lives, reinvent themselves, fill in the blanks of what’s been missing, while there is still plenty of time to do so. In other words, they may make a U-turn (or a “you-turn”) to create something new and spectacular; to give their lives a facelift. Gone is the outdated, negative concept of “midlife crisis;” contemporary women are making creative, positive midlife transitions that serve others as well as themselves.
Speaking as a psychotherapist, I cannot recall even one patient whose mother was in her 40’s when he/she was born and raised, who suffered poor parenting. On the other hand, many, many middle age women come into treatment to deal with their teens/college kids, and many to deal with the effects of their own mother’s lack of parenting skills.
I’m a big fan of good things come to those who wait. Later motherhood is rife with them, and here are my top ten:
1. Patience. We all know this comes with age. Babies and young children, not to mention teens, sense this important aspect of nurturing. Children raised by older parents seem to be more mature themselves….they have more patience, more tolerance, less ageism.
2. Wisdom. Most older mothers have “sown their wild oats” and are solid in their decision to parent at this time. They don’t mind giving up “clubbing” to babysit their own kids. Further, they’ve made some mistakes and learned from them. This can be an invaluable asset to model to children.
3. Having children later may actually increase the mother’s longevity. Her desire to have a longer relationship with her children and grandchildren can inspire healthier habits and a more positive mindset about aging.
Published in: Family