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Dr. Kenney and her daughters

At fifty, I feel as if I’m emerging into the brave new world of parenting after a lifetime lockdown in a Cold War-era bomb shelter.

All along, I thought that being older might give me an “edge” when it came to being a mom. Yet, I find myself wandering around just as bemused and disoriented as the next parent. And you know what? That feeling never quite goes away.

Ask pediatric child psychologist, Dr. Lynne Kenney (http://www NULL.lynnekenney NULL.com/), and she’ll tell you that “older may not mean wiser” when it comes to modern parenting.

Dr. Kenney—who had her children in her late 30’s and recognizes the benefits of having lived a full career-life prior to motherhood—has a few home truths for later life mothers.

“Life experience sure teaches you a lot, but the ‘edge’ is really about patience, character and values—not necessarily age,” she says.

While she admits that there are some benefits to parenting “like the old days”—including fewer latch-key kids, better nutrition with home-made meals, and less television—the era of “Do As I Say” is officially yesterday’s news.

Author of The Family Coach Method (http://www NULL.lynnekenney NULL.com/), Dr. Kenney advises that—while our parents once governed with fear—today we parent with explanation and collaboration.

Yet, the cause of our confusion may be broader than just new parenting styles. As Bob Dylan once said, “times, they are a-changin’.”

“The world of being a modern mom is much more diverse than the past—there are almost too many options,” says Dr. Kenney.

Ergo, there’s much more forethought required. The solution lies in asking critical parenting questions: What kind of child do I want to raise? What skills does my child need to succeed? How can I help my child build those skills?

She believes it’s essential to be a “mindful, present parent”—meaning, that we’re more hands-on than our parents ever were.

Shoving your kids out the door to play, like we once were, and telling them not to come back until the street lights are on is no longer an option.

“In an era when we do not let our children go outside unsupervised”, says Dr. Kenney, “being there to play with your children is key.”

There are all kinds of activities we can get involved in—I know that fort-building with blankets on a loft bed is one of our favorites. I was doing something right, it seems.

Up to the age of twelve, Kenney says that helping children learn through play with face-to-face games, puzzles, drawing, playing cards or tent-making, are great ways to stay tuned-in.

If all else fails, she advises moms to just get down on the floor and let kids take the lead. So, I experimented with that. It was one of the most hilarious experiences I’ve ever had with my children—although I did have to distinguish myself from the functions of the local jungle gym.

While she agrees children’s nutrition has gone downhill since the 1950’s, Dr. Kenney observes that more mothers are becoming increasingly interested in healthier options such as antibiotic-free meat or poultry.

Also, being a midlifer does have a few positive trade-offs, she admits.

“Being an older mom may provide more patience and make us less judgmental since we’ve failed more,” says Dr. Kenney.

Since mothers spend ever-increasing amounts of time volunteering at schools, supervising homework, and deeply involved in their children’s activities, the job of parenting no longer resembles what it once was when we were growing up in the 1960’s, 70’s, and 80’s.

“Being a teacher at home is no longer a luxury—it’s a necessity,” says Dr. Kenney.

“These kids wants hands-on parents, not hovering parents,” she adds.

“This is the generation of ‘Do As I Do’!”

Notes for this blog:

Angel La Liberte is the founder of the website Flower Power Mom.com—The Truth About Motherhood After 40 (www.flowerpowermom.com), a regular blog featuring commentary, real mom stories and expert advice about motherhood after 40. She regularly campaigns for more supportive attitudes towards women having children in midlife and more awareness on the realities (social and physical) of being a later life mother.

Angel also hosts “A Child After 40”, an online community to empower all women on the journey of motherhood after 40. She gave birth to her children at 41 and 44 after conceiving naturally.

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3 Responses to Older Mothers: The Generation of “Do As I Do”

  1. Michelle says:

    I really enjoyed this article. I’m glad to learn that I am actually asking myself the right questions when it comes to what kind of children I want to raise. But, aslo about how to interact with them and how much. They do need ‘alone’ time too afterall. 🙂

    I like her level approach to parenting, and how she explains we don’t have to ignore our children. It helps me to realize that I’m not overparenting, or spoiling my children by giving them my attention.

  2. Donna says:

    Becoming older is fantastic in so many ways like Dr Kenney mentioned – having more patience and being less judgmental – but I agree even more when she says that “Life experience sure teaches you a lot, but the ‘edge’ is really about patience, character and values—not necessarily age.” I do believe having children at an older age can be a uniquely better experience because of the wisdom and maturity you’ve gained but I think that having a nurturing temperament and being supportive and loving are even better to have when parenting and are not necessarily traits of only older people.

  3. Top Over-40 Mom Site Re-launches With Extreme Makeover « A Child After 40 (http://achildafter40 NULL.wordpress NULL.com/2012/11/13/top-over-40-mom-site-re-launches-as-achildafter40-com/) says:

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