Is there an ideal age to have children?

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“Daniel Craig is going to be a dad again at the age of 50. What, John, do you think about older dads?” My response to being asked this surprised me a little. I just thought: “Meh, what’s the big deal?” The suggestion seemed to be there is an ideal age to have children and Craig was breaking this rule.

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Young dad, middle aged dad, old dad. Is there, however, an ideal age to become a parent? The real me is the one in the middle, by the way.

We’re all living longer and healthier lives. We can hardly be too surprised that people are having kids later in life. Nonetheless, we do seem to have a slightly confusing approach to what is and is not an appropriate age is to be having children.

Going back a few years, I remember one of the childcare workers at Helen’s nursery suddenly disappeared without explanation. She was about 20 years of age and incredibly slim so hiding a pregnancy would have presented some major challenges.

It turns out she had been pregnant for months. While she’d told her supervisors, this young woman had gone out of her way to hide the fact from everyone else. Only when she’d left did it occour to me that every time I’d walked into the room to collect my child, she had been wearing a fleece jacket far too big for her and sometimes she would be sat on the floor with the kids and would pull the fleece over her knees to hide her stomach.

The nursery manager explained to me her desire was to become a mum. On account of her age, she was worried about being judged so felt she had to keep it a secret.

Yeah, okay, I hope my own children will see a bit of the world before having kids. I would feel concerned if they wanted kids that young, but if it was the one thing really wanted to do, well, it would be wrong to be anything other than supportive.

We then come on to the older parents. Daniel Craig is not married to someone many years his junior, far from it. He’s married to Rachel Weisz who is 48 years of age and this will be her second child.

When I gave this some thought, I found myself feeling uncomfortable at the double standards we apply to age and parenting. On one side we have the young woman who wanted to be a mum at the age of 20 and hid the fact because she was afraid of being judged. On the other side, we have Craig and Weisz and when they announce they’re expecting, people like myself get asked on to the radio to comment on it (that question at the beginning of this article was posed by a radio presenter).

Okay, let’s apply a good dose of common sense to this discussion. Nature plays a cruel trick and limits women’s fertility when they hit their fifties. Us guys are presented with no such challenges.

Unfair as it is, women are the ones that have to go through pregnancy and birth. I can only tell you that Mrs Adams was totally drained by her second pregnancy and I struggle with the idea of woman too much older than Rachel Weisz going through pregnancy and birth because it is so tough.

While the parenting books frequently make birth sound like some kind of wonderful experience, birth is traumatic and a younger or young-ish body will cope with better with this trauma. Regardless of whether you are a mum or a dad, you also need a certain amount of energy to keep up with toddlers and young kids.

They want to climb trees, bounce on trampolines and sit on your back while you pretend to be a horse. I had to stop giving the kids horsey rides and carrying them on my shoulders because each time I did it, I suffered back pain.

For the record, I don’t think this has anything to do with me getting older, but with my children getting bigger. It was about the time Helen reached 25 kilograms in weight, the same as a bag of cement, that I had to stop carrying my kids in this way. I’m just over the line in my forties so quite how a 60-year-old dad would handle these things, I don’t know.

We also have to look at the lives we live today. For most people, the twenties aren’t a time for settling down and having kids. They’re spent in higher education, building the foundations to a career and getting on the property ladder. Kids come later.

Start too young, and people will gossip about you. Start too late, people will gossip about you. It seems the ideal age to have kids is between 30 and 40 years of age. There is some sense to this, but the judgement many people face for not playing by these rules strikes me as heavy handed.

With the disposable income and resources available to Craig and Weisz, I’m sure they’ll be just fine. The young mum from Helen’s nursery, well, how sad it is she didn’t feel she could be open about her pregnancy.

Are you what is euphemistically referred to as an older parent? Maybe you had kids when you were young? Do you think there is a correct time to have children?

4 thoughts on “Is there an ideal age to have children?”

  1. I don’t think there’s an ideal age but we had kids fairly young. It’s nice to know that by the time I’m 40, I’ll start to get some of my freedom back. I definitely don’t think I have the energy to run around after a toddler or cope with the sleepless nights now.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts Steve. I didn’t become a dad until well into my thirties so I will be in my fifties when I start to get some freedom back! It’s a very personal thing. I think for me it was better I had kids a bit later. That’s not going to be the same for everyone.

  2. Well I suppose I have mixed feelings about this article. I have twin baby daughters and I am loving it. I also have have a Son and Daughter both in there 30’s and two granddaughters who are both older than the twins.
    My wife is a lot younger than me (OK lets put this subject to bed, she did not marry me for money as I have none, Yes I live comfortably but that’s all ). One day my wife raised the subject that she wanted children when I suggested I was probably too old for that sort of thing she just laughed and said if I was single and had a baby very few people would object or pass judgement on me so why cannot I have a baby with you. We have an established home and lifestyle we have many advantages over a so called normal couple starting a family.
    I spent some time thinking over the subject and in the end I had to agree that although like your article I edged towards the conclusion that there is an age when fathers are too old, I also had no objections to single parent families. Thus I failed in my own mind to provide an effective argument against her desire.
    Thus, I am now the father of two beautiful baby girls ( and 1 grown up one) and guess what I find it a very rewarding situation to be in. I am retired so I am able to devote my attention to my family not work like I unfortunately had to when my oldest were young. So I find my self in an idyllic situation even if the bones are a bit achy. Also let’s be honest many men of my age are in a similar position but with grand children not their own children .
    P.S I do feel that an older woman having a baby is a bit of a problem though, lets be realistic, ideally a Child should expect to have at least one parent around until they reach an age where they get married and start a family of their own. So when I see women in their mid forties or older going for IVF treatment I wonder if they really care about the children they will produce or are they just indulging themselves.

    1. Terry, this is a superb response. I really appreciate you commenting. It is fascinating to hear from someone who is living this situation. Youth and energy has its place, as does age, experience and wisdom. Great to hear that you are able to dedicate more time to the family than if you were a younger dad.

      As for older women having IVF, it’s a difficult one. I guess the truth is, if they could adopt, should they be stopped from having IVF? Fertility rules and laws are such a minefiled. Opens up all manner of discussions and debates.

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