Important Reasons To Wait

The average age a woman has a child is 27. But many women aren't anywhere near ready to have children in their 20s. And these days, more are waiting -- some until their mid-to-late 30s or even their 40s. So is now the right time for you or should you wait? Read on for the reasons experts give for why it's OK to ignore that biological clock.

couple relaxing on beach

Anna, mother of one from Illinois, says she's a happier parent for waiting until she was older, "My husband and I didn't have our first child until our early 40s. It was a wonderful decision for many reasons. Our daughter is now 13 months, and we are both 43 years old. We couldn't be happier parents!"

Ignore the ticking clock

But what if, unlike Anna, you're struggling with the thought of waiting, feeling self-imposed or outside pressure to procreate? Nerina Garcia-Arcement, Ph.D. urges women not to rush into having a child simply because others are doing it or because their clock is ticking. "Having a child changes everything, literally."

"There are many pros to waiting, including being more emotionally and psychologically ready for the vast changes to lifestyle and time commitment that children require."

More financial stability

Garcia-Arcement also reminds potential parents that financial stability can come with waiting. "Having a more stable and developed profession so that you are in a more stable financial situation... " Barbara Neitlich, psychotherapist, adds, "If you wait, you can generally put more money aside for your baby fund."

More confidence and maturity

Beverly D. Flaxington, author and mother of three, who had babies at 35, 38 and 42 says, "I felt more confident after going through a number of life situations and developing different perspectives on life." Garcia-Arcement makes the point, "You might have more energy as a younger mom, but older moms have the benefit of more life experience and maturity." Neitlich adds, "As you age you learn more about yourself, your partner and what type of parent you want to be."

More time for you

Neitlich also says a key reason to wait is to "travel, travel, travel!" and spend more quality time with your partner first. Garcia-Arcement agrees, "Accomplishing personal goals first (e.g. education, travel, attending cultural events) allows the mom to never question should I have waited until... ?"

Ask yourself the important questions

Sharon Gilchrest O’Neill, a marriage and family therapist, reminds couples to ask themselves important questions before making their final decision.

  • Are you and your spouse in agreement? Will you both be committed to all that is entailed?
  • Do you and your spouse believe you would enjoy parenting?
  • Will you consider medical intervention if you cannot get pregnant?
  • Are there any financial concerns? Will a child make a difference in whether both spouses will be able to pursue their careers, work full time, finish up any education, etc.?
  • Are there any emotional or psychological reasons underlying a push for a child — the kind of reasons that have more to do with improving the marriage, etc.? The kind that are not healthy reasons and usually backfire?

Life vs. Fiction

The Good Dream

Want more about becoming a mom later in life? Check out a great read in the new SheKnows Book Lounge — The Good Dream by author Donna VanLiere, a new book about a woman on an unlikely path to motherhood. Head to our new SheKnows Book Lounge now.

More about delaying childbearing

Healthy pregnancy: Can you have one in your 40's?
Delaying childbearing: How old is too old?
Should you wait to have kids?

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Comments

Comments on "Why it's OK to wait to have kids"

Heather November 17, 2012 | 9:41 PM

Such a great article! I'm in my 30s and I know I'm not ready for kids, but I do worry about waiting even five more years. Glad to know it's not as big a deal as I thought it was.

Leslie August 14, 2012 | 9:42 AM

I think there are pros and cons to waiting. Everyone says you should travel when you're young and enjoy being with your spouse. I can see that, but what about having kids when you're young so you can run around with them and then travel once they move out? If you have them young, they will be moved out when you're still young! Another plus is I've always wanted to have a close relationship to the grandkids!

Erica July 18, 2012 | 9:38 AM

Julie gets it! I'm in my early twenties and though I'm nowhere near having a child, sometimes I wonder if it's better to have kids early so that I'll still be young once they've grown up. But I also want to spend my 20s and 30s without kids... Oy, there's the rub.

Hannah June 18, 2012 | 8:12 PM

This was a great look into the pros of waiting to have kids. I had kids young, and it's what works best for my husband and I. We're both healthy and have energy to run around with them. We LOVE travelling and did a lot of that while dating, and look forward to doing a lot more once the kids are grown. A plus to this, too, is we will have more money to travel with when we're older, as opposed to in our twenties.

Emma June 18, 2012 | 2:39 PM

I think it is so helpful to hear that you don't have to have kids just because your clock is ticking. Children are a huge, lifetime commitment and it is one that shouldn't be entered lightly! I sometimes feel that my clock is ticking, but I do need to realize that I am not in a place emotionally or financially to start really thinking about kids.

Julie June 18, 2012 | 10:28 AM

Ah, then there's the flipside of this issue. If you have your children in your 20's you have plenty of time to do stuff when they're grown. I'm just saying.... (very biased opinion of a woman desperate for grand kids)

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