What are the pro’s and con’s of parenting a child in your later years?
As a mother of seven children, my last being born when I was 40 years old, I have some personal references to share with you about the advantages, and yes, the disadvantages of having a child later in life.
When I was eighteen I was emotionally unprepared for the awesome responsibility that comes with having a baby. I was overwhelmed. I didn’t have a clue what to do with the little bundle. The advantage was I still had my Mom around to help me. She came to the hospital when my son was born, she rubbed my back when I had a contraction, and she comforted me. A first time mother does not know what to expect when that first child is born. I was unprepared for hard labor. I didn’t know that it wouldn’t go on forever. I did not know that as soon as the baby was born the pain went away instantly. I did not know that you had to “push” the afterbirth out, and that it could be painful also. I did not know how to nurse the baby.
My mother also came home with me for a couple of weeks after the baby was born. That was heaven! She made sure I knew how to diaper the baby, and care for the baby properly before she left. As the Matriarch of the family this was her responsibility, to make sure her child was a responsible parent. I cried when she left, because I felt so inadequate. When my youngest child was 5 months old, I was able to go and do the same for my daughter who had her first baby.
The advantage to going through labor and delivery in later years, especially after having children young, is that I knew what to expect. I was not so frightened. I did not need my mother, for by then I was the mother. Though I would have liked to have had my mother there, she was not able to come, and that was okay.
I had three children by the time I was 22 years old. I had been raised in the Mormon traditional belief system. In that belief system we believed that we have pre-existent children waiting to come to earth to gain an essential step in the progression of a human being. A body. I was married at 18, and married in the temple at 20. Besides having a very strong maternal instinct, I was strongly religiously influenced to bring these children down [from Heaven]. I felt it was my purpose and duty as a woman.
But just because I knew I was suppose to have these children, it did not help me to be more loving, or more patient. I remember being very impatient at times. As time went on, I learned strategies of coping…and patience was one of those strategies. As an older parent of a newborn, and toddlers I was more patient. I was more “ready” to be a parent. As a young mother I stressed out and was fearful when a little accident occurred, or when my child got sick. As an older parent I relax more, and I don’t stress out as easily, and I don’t get anxious over every little incident.
When I was 26, my fourth child was born. He was born with a cyst on his brain, so by the time we figured it out, and got him properly diagnosed, and had brain surgery to attempt to correct it, he was permanently brain damaged. Ultimately, this lead to my ability to reach deeper, and gain more patience. Patience is a quality that a parent of a handicapped child must develop, if she is going to be able to cope at all. So, by the time I became an older parent I had “extra” coping skills, and “extra” patience. I believe my younger children have a much calmer, better, and wiser parent than my older children had. You might even say I am a completely different person from the one that the older children knew.
However, now I am 51 years old and I have been diagnosed with RA, an auto-immune disease, so I have had the opportunity to think about my own mortality. I worry more about what might happen to the kids if I were to die. I have already begun to make arrangements. My youngest is only 11. I don’t have as much energy to play, as I did when I was young. My feet don’t work the same. I get tired more easily. When I was young I had boundless energy to run and play with the kids. I’d pick them up and flip them over my shoulders. I’d swim for hours. We’d camp and ride bikes.
One more point I feel should be made. Young mothers have an excellent immune system. We are in our prime, and we have healthier babies generally than older parents do. More babies have downs syndrome when born to older parents.
By the time I had my youngest at 40, I was in the hospital hooked up to machines and considered a “high” risk patient. My earlier children were born naturally,and without any complications, or any reason to believe their would be any problems. I could have the baby, and go home and cook dinner the same day.
I am glad I was Mormon, because I absolutely adore each and every one of my children, and I can’t imagine being without them. They are the best part of me. The only part of me that matters, really. I look forward to having a brood of adorable grandchildren as a legacy of my life, when i am gone. There is no amount of money that I would trade for these experiences. So, whether you are a young parent, in the middle, or older, whether your child is a boy, or girl, smart, not so smart, handicapped, or a genius, you will absolutely love and adore the little tyke. A child is a blessing, a gift of Abba Yahweh no matter what the circumstances might be.
I gladly went into the valley of death twice to give these children life, and if given a choice I would do it all over again. Advantages? Disadvantages? Every season of life has both, but in the big scheme of things isn’t that what life is all about? Isn’t that part of our learning experiences? Isn’t that why we strive to be better people, so that we leave this example to our children, who can become responsible parents, citizens, and that they may then leave that same legacy to their own children? The memories of our choices, and our deeds are written on each person at the cellular level, so the choices we make today will be an influence for many generations to come. How is that for immortality?