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Guest contribution by Cristina Schreil.
It’s no secret that older generations reached certain family planning milestones much earlier than millennials. For example, getting married and having babies in your twenties was once considered appropriate timing.
That’s not the case with millennials. Researchers at the Urban Institute found that “between 2007 and 2012 … fertility rates among women in their twenties fell by more than 15 percent”. As I noted in my last post on millennials, we do things later.
According to the Pew Research Center, “the typical American woman first married in 1965 at the age of 21 and the typical man married at the age of 23. By 2017 those numbers rose to 27 for women and 29.5 for men … When asked about the reasons they don’t have 29% say they are financially unprepared, while 26% say they haven’t found anyone who has the qualities they are looking for; Another 26% say they are too young and unwilling to settle down. “
That’s not to say that none of my coworkers have children in their twenties. As a generation, however, Millennials follow a family planning schedule that often alerts their parents and grandparents who were used to equating certain milestones with specific (and younger) age groups. And that can lead to seemingly invasive questions.
“When will you have children?”
Friends tell me they asked this question in their early twenties. In my sphere, even the most progressive people I know can ask me about motherhood. Some just seem surprised; others ask out of clear concerns about health risks for older mothers.
Although millennials across the country don’t reproduce on the same schedules as their parents ‘and grandparents’ generations, some are feeling great pressure to channel their energies into starting families. Or many are just not sure how to answer questions without addressing the concerns of their elderly relatives.
Thankfully, several recent studies are here to help build your confidence in your timeline. Many believe it makes sense for women to wait until their mid to late thirties to become mothers, largely because offspring benefit from mothers who are more educated and established.
5 answers to baby inquiries
1. When someone says, “Have babies now, make money later”.
You can say, “I can actually make more if I wait a few years.”
The researchers looked at how the age at which women become mothers can affect their lifetime income. Using a sample of around 1.6 million Danish women between the ages of 25 and 60, they found that women who do not want to forego income losses are better off having a first child after the age of 30. Higher earnings were clearly women for both college and non-college. From this sample, women who became mothers before the age of 25 actually lost between two and two and a half years of income.
“Older” mothers have acknowledged the financial benefits of starting a family later: They are more likely to have saved money by being childless on the workforce and are likely to have made more progress up the career ladder and increased their income potential the rest of her career. They also have the luxury of not having to “prove themselves” while juggling the demands of newborns and young children.
2. When someone says, “You won’t be there to watch your children grow up.”
You can say, “Older mothers may live longer.”
A study published in the Menopause Journal, titled “Extended Mother Age at Last Child Birth and Woman Longevity in the Long Life Family Study,” reported that women who gave birth to their last child after 33 years of age had one Saw “significant correlation for the age of the older mother”. And had better chances of living to 95.
Previous results from the New England Centenarian Study found that women who gave birth after age 40 were “four times more likely to live 100 years or longer than women who gave birth younger.”
While many, many factors affect longevity, these studies offer an attractive potential association with waiting. If you’re a twenty year old worried about missing out on your child’s wedding or meeting your grandchildren, these studies contradict this narrative.
3. When someone says, “It’s so much harder to deal with children when you’re older.”
You can say, “Studies show older mothers may have fewer problems.”
For example, older mothers of preschoolers do well on most aspects of parenting. A UK study titled “The Parenting of Preschoolers by Older Mothers in the UK” found that mature mothers may have specific benefits.
The researchers wrote, “Positive and responsive parenting generally increased with the age of the mother up to about 40 years of age, after which time she reached a plateau.” Overall, elderly motherhood should “not pose any parenting problems during the pre-school years”.
Waiting for babies can also boost your brain performance, as sex hormones can affect cognitive performance. A research team at the University of Southern California found that women who gave birth to their last baby after age 35 “have better brain performance after the menopause.” The study was published in the American Journal of Geriatrics, and lead researcher Roksana Karim noted that it “provides strong evidence that there is a positive association between later age at last pregnancy and cognition in later life.” There were two other cases that appeared to strengthen brain function and prevent memory loss: when the women started their menstrual cycles before the age of 13 or when they had been using hormonal contraceptives for more than 10 years.
4. When someone says, “Children born to older mothers are at a disadvantage.”
You can say, “Children born to older mothers do well academically.”
A research team examined Swedish data to find out how factors such as continued advances in public health can offset a child’s disadvantages as they age. Their study “Advanced Maternal Age and Offspring Outcomes” found that waiting for children up to the age of 40 “is associated with positive long-term outcomes for children” and that they did not find any significant disadvantages in adulthood for children who were born later. Mothers in life – even for mothers over 45 years of age.
Among siblings, they reported that those born when the mother was older were more likely to perform better on standardized tests, stayed in the education system longer, and were more likely to go to college.
Other studies support these findings: “The Relationship Between Maternal Raising and Children’s Academic Outcomes,” reported in the Journal of Marriage and Family, conducted by New York University researchers, found that when older children received advanced education, over if you have strong language skills you are likely to use a higher level vocabulary with your children. These children benefit from their mothers’ education in several ways and are more likely to be characterized by cognitive tests, achievement tests, and SATs. Plus, they’re more likely to go to college.
Alice Goisis looked at the cognitive performance of children with three different groups of mothers in England and confirmed what previous research has shown: With regard to children of younger mothers, those born to older mothers do better on cognitive ability tests. Goisis attributes this result to the likely further training of older mothers and to the fact that they are more established in the professions or professions.
5. When someone says, “If you wait too long, you are missing out on your opportunity.”
You can say, “Not necessarily.”
Being an older mom for the first time is more than a trend limited to Hollywood elites like Amal Clooney, who was born at age 39, or Mariah Carey at age 42. About 10 years ago in an article titled The Typical Modern Mother: There Isn’t One, the Pew Research Center wrote, “Today’s mothers of newborn babies are more likely than their counterparts two decades ago to be 35 years and older. ”
A 2018 Pew study entitled “They’re Waiting Longer…” shows that women between the ages of 40 and 44 who have never been married had a baby. Pew assures those bombarded with questions that while women have babies later, “Women are more likely to be mothers now than they were a decade ago.”
Even so, parents will annoy you, friends will push you, and strangers will comment. What is the most outrageous, curious, or annoying nudge or question you’ve been asked?