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The Australian Telegraph, January 20th, 2013

“There has been plenty of argument about whether older people should be having children, but to a certain extent that’s a moot point; the fact is, they are,” writes Jordan Baker in Australia’s Sunday Telegraph, on 20th January 2013.

“So attention is turning to the kind of parents they will be and how that will affect their children—and the rest of us—in the decades to come.”

Ten years after having my first child at nearly 42, Baker’s piece, entitled “Will Older Parents Change The World?” (http://www NULL.theaustralian NULL.com NULL.au/news/will-older-parents-change-the-world/story-e6frg6n6-1226557333148), is the first honest media attempt I’ve seen in a while to reasonably consider the long-term effects of the trend in motherhood after 40.


Universal Rise In Babies After Age 40

When she contacted me through the internet looking for moms over 40 to speak to, we ended up interviewing on the phone, across a divide of over 7,000 miles, sharing the same modern maternal reality:

The rise in women having babies after 40 is universal in developed nations.

According to Baker, the proportion of women giving birth over 40 in Australia has risen by 40 per cent over the last decade.

Interviewing older parents who’re a little further down the road after childbirth, Baker highlights the challenges: the emotional “wringer” of fertility, the “double generation gap”, and the sagacity of older parents.


Fears Over “Last Chance Children”

She even wheeled out Monica Morris—who published “Last Chance Children: Growing Up With Older Parents” back in 1986—to talk about how children of older parents were afraid their parents would drop dead in the night, or how lonely they were as singletons.

Isn’t it time someone interviewed some modern day kids of older parents, who might feel just a tad differently? That study took place over 25 years ago.

In fact, recent research has shown a rise in the number of older mothers having a second child (http://www NULL.parentsociety NULL.com/todays-family/parents-40/more-older-moms-going-for-baby-number-two-and-three/) is on the rise.


How The Tide of Talk Is Turning

Is She Tool Old For This?

But what Jordan Baker has really achieved with this piece is a change of direction on the subject of motherhood after 40, spiced up with a new tone in the dialogue: time to stop criticizing women who “delay motherhood” until after 40,  and start asking the real questions about the rise in older parents.

Last year, she had the nerve to write a piece on how advertising and media were exploiting women’s panic over age-related infertility (http://www NULL.nationaltimes NULL.com NULL.au/opinion/society-and-culture/advertisers-exploit-the-female-fear-of-infertility-20111004-1l765 NULL.html), citing Lisa Miller’s controversial New York Magazine article, “Parents of a Certain Age: Is there anything wrong with being 53 and pregnant?”, which sported a provocative cover photo of faux-pregnant senior, who was ripened well past the age of 53.

Clearly, Jordan Baker likes to get to get past the illusions too often spun by ink and paper (or keyboard and monitor) and down to the nitty gritty.

“Twenty years from now,” she says, “we will begin to see some effects of the older-parents boom. We just don’t know exactly what they will be.”

I’m guessing we might see them even sooner than that.

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4 Responses to How Will More Babies After 40 Impact Our Future?

  1. deathstar (http://awomanmyage NULL.wordpress NULL.com) says:

    I read the article and enjoyed your post about it very much. I am one of those older mothers who have to admit that I would have loved to be one of those mothers sheperding their toddler to preschool with a baby in a sling, I never will be. I did not “wait too long”. I married at 38 and spent years trying to conceive, struggled through IVF and then had to wait 2 years to adopt. Meanwhile I watched my mother deteriorate with dementia. So yes, I know what it’s like to feed my child, then feed my mother. It’s tough, but it is what it is. I am honoured to have the capacity to do both.

  2. ExpiredEggs? (http://www NULL.expiredeggs NULL.blogspot NULL.com) says:

    I think one of the questions we, as developed nations, should ask ourselves is this: Is the trend of older first-time parents a cultural shift, or is it the result of a cultural shift?

    Decades of encouraging young people to pursue careers and put off marriage and family is bearing fruit in this way. Also true is that our society no longer really builds and reinforces the pursuit of marriage and family as high-priority institutions. Increasingly and for various reasons, people just don’t find suitable partners until later in life. And if they have trouble conceiving naturally, well that introduces further delays to parenthood.

    Are we really so surprised at the rise of 40+ parents?

  3. There have been a complex range of important cultural forces that have led to more women having babies after the age of 40. It began in the 1960’s when, for the first time in history, widespread and medically sophisticated birth control was made available to women, giving them power over when to have children. This was bolstered by the women’s rights movement, which fought for equality in education and the workplace.
    Scientifically, great leaps in reproductive technology and healthcare, leading to increased lifespan (especially in women) have also combined to cause women to have children when they are older.
    Recent advances in oocyte cryopreservation–freezing of unfertilized human eggs–will open the door to millions of women to delay motherhood until they are ready and conceive with their own eggs.
    What we do NOT yet understand is the impact on children and the family en masse, and on women’s quality of life. Raising children for women are older means that they will be facing critical life transitions, such as menopause and aging, while caring for the needs of young children.
    Now that I’m in my 50’s, and my children are 7 and 10 years old, I’ll be looking more deeply into the long term implications for women and families having children after 40.

  4. Passerby says:

    I am 30 years old. My mother was 40 when I was born, and I buried her four years ago. I don’t begrudge these women their desire for children – I’m still unmarried (caring for my mother took priority over dating, so I stayed single for the last several years of her life to provide nursing care), and at my age I’m can’t be sure that I won’t end up in the same boat. I watched my mother die in slow motion from the time I was 10 years old, and back then I swore I would never have children so late. But in the part of the country I live in, even 30 is considered inappropriately young to be contemplating marriage – I’ve had several women (both older and my peers) take me aside at work and tell me that I’m too young to consider a serious relationship, I need to keep things casual and “have a life” or I’ll regret it when I’m older. I mostly get this from women, but the same general attitude is reflected in men anywhere near my age; they think it’s crazy to even be thinking about a family at 30. And I’m leary of dating a much older man, because I don’t want my kids to have to bury him either. It’s a mess, and I hate it, and I don’t have any solutions, but I beg you: think carefully before you choose this life for your children. Please.

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