Advances in reproductive technology and the advantages in getting married later in life have led to an increase in middle aged parents. There is a laundry list of advantages in having children later in life.
They’re more likely than parents who are barely out of their teens to own a home and have money set aside for retirement and emergency expenses. They’ve often times solidified their careers, paid off crdit card debt or student loans and have the time to devote to parenting. Taking on parenthood at a more advanced age can mean paying for things like tuition and textbooks when many of your peers are enjoying the financial freedom of being empty-nesters.
A few points to consider:
Can you afford to pay for college? The biggest financial challenge for older parents is that retirement age and college tuition come at the same time, or close. As a parent, you want to give your child the best of everything, but it also can be financially devastating.
Can you keep your retirement goals? Financial planners say it’s not advisable to invest differently just because there’s a crib in what used to be the spare bedroom.
Is your home adequate? While older Americans may be more likely to own their own homes and have equity established, that does present a drawback in that a house that’s satisfactory for you and a partner may be inappropriate or inadequate for a family that includes young kids and, eventually, teenagers.
It’s a bad idea to start a new 30-year mortgage at 45 or 50, cautions Cathy Pareto, financial planner and president of Cathy Pareto and Associates.
Can you take time off? During midlife you are generally at your careers financial peak. While this may give you more resources to care for a child, it also means that negotiating time away from the office may be difficult. Not only are lost income and retirement incentives like a 401(k) match likely to deeply affect the family budget, but transitioning back to the workforce can be more challenging for employees who have already worked their way up the corporate ladder.
There are also great benefits to later-life parenting. Although you will always have a few opponents who will list all the potential problems you might incur, these are actually not as prevalent as they would have you believe. In fact, despite the increase in chromosomal disorders such as Down Syndrome in children born to older mothers, these problems are not encountered by most women in this age range. Even more encouraging, a 2014 study of more than 76,000 women indicates that older mothers are 40 percent less likely to have babies with major congenital malformations, the term used to describe birth defects that are not chromosomal.
Older parents are generally more financially stable. Babies can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and while the points above can leave you hurting in your wallet, often times the financial burden young families face, is less prevalent in older parent families.
Your marriage may be more stable. When you are considering parenthood in midlife, there are studies that suggest the older you are when you marry, the greater chance of a long lasting union.
You have more experience.Perhaps you were an aunt, uncle, or babysitter. If you have children later in life, you have had a chance to interact with children. While it doesn’t necessarily equate to having your own family experience, it’s an invaluable lesson in patience.
Older parents are more relaxed. As you get older, the need for that approval lessens, replaced by a more self-assured and relaxed parenting style that benefits everyone involved. You’re less likely to feel the pressures of modern parenting “rules”.
In the grand scheme of things, the joy of being a mom or dad far outweigh the stress or difficulties that arise. For the right person, parenting can be the most rewarding endeavor there is.