At 43 and change, I became a parent again. Not to a sleepy newborn, but to a walking, talking, 25 pound toddler. (Behold, the wonders of adoption!) Many are quick to point out the downsides of advanced age parenthood. Being mistaken for a doting great aunt or (yikes) grandparent surely wouldn’t be fun. Many consider their life plans too inflexible toward middle age. The infamous “what age will I be at his/her high school graduation” arithmetic is a big downer, too. But beyond the obvious fatigue, which is often swiftly remedied by three to four gallons of coffee each morning, I must say that being an older parent has its perks. Here are my top 5 reasons why being an older parent really rules:
- Financial Security: When we had our first kiddo in our late 20’s (still later than 26 years old, which is the average age for parents these days) , we were house poor and just getting started in our careers. I think her first toys were a stick and some rocks. I’m exaggerating, of course, but we are in a much better position to financially provide for our children, as are most folks in their late 30’s and beyond. A life insurance policy, a healthy 401K and savings, equity in homes, and the ability to enjoy a nice yearly vacation are just some of the things that now make life a bit more comfortable for a family.
- Maturity: There’s really no FOMO (fear of missing out), in your 40’s. A younger parent may feel a bit like they have passed up some of the fun for parenthood when their friends are out on a bar crawl. Later in life, there is no better excuse to don pajamas before nine than snuggling with your little one. Because being the old lady or dude at the club is ugh.
- Been There, Done That: For those who already have older children, there is an ease that comes with learned parenting knowledge. Weird rash, temper tantrums, night terrors? Chances are, you’ve experienced it before, and you know that most minor issues pass. Even if you haven’t had kids before , your friends or family members likely have. This wisdom seems to make parenting simpler.
- IDGAF: The neighbor’s kids only eat organic? Little Leo reads at 2.5? Monica’s Morgan sat through an entire opera? Find me an older mom or dad that gives a #$@%, because I sure don’t. Competition is for young parents. If my kid is fed, clothed, and not licking the walls, I’m good. You? Not stressing this really small stuff and a lack of competitive parenting is best for all.
- Every Moment is Savored: Wasn’t it like yesterday, we were pushing our dolls in strollers? When did we become grownups? The realization that time is fleeting, somehow hits us near midlife. Older parents seem to savor this precious time more than their younger counterparts. Whether it was a rocky road to parenthood in the first place (infertility, a long adoption wait, etc) or parenting grown children went way too fast, there is an inherent gratefulness that pervades late-life parenthood.