Too Young / Old To Breed?

I always envisaged that I’d be a dad by 25-years-old. I’m not quite sure why I had that milestone in mind – perhaps something to do with the age of my folks who had me in their mid-20s – but it has always been important to me to be on the younger side.

No offence is intended to the older parents out there, but I personally feel that both parent and child miss out if they are unable to play together without fear of putting their back out. Having had a very active childhood myself where, as a family, we’d play sports, do activities and generally frolic around, it has always been key for me to give the same experiences to the fruit of my loins.

At 28-years-old, and the missus being 26-years-old, I don’t consider us to be young by any stretch of the imagination, particularly as I’m a few years behind schedule – I’ll be 29-years-old once the little bundle of joy pops out. Yes, we may not go out like we once did at Uni and our idea of fun now might be walking in the woods with the dog or watching box sets (currently House of Cards for anyone interested), but the truth is we seem to be on the younger side of parenthood.

This point has been affirmed with recent trips to the midwife and to the hospital where I struggled to spot anyone who looked anywhere near our age. Perhaps that’s down to bad hospital lighting or a lifetime of excessive alcohol and poor diet, but the most likely reason is because everyone is actually older.

A report from the Guardian last year suggested that the age of mums continues to rise as more and more women delay having a child until later in life. The article reads:

The average age of mothers has continued to increase for almost four decades. It is currently 29.7, but 49% of women are over 30 when their baby arrives.

It [The Office for National Statistics] said on Thursday: “The overall rise since 1973 reflects the increasing numbers of women who have been delaying childbearing to later years. Possible influences include increased participation in higher education, increased female participation in the labour force, the increasing importance of a career, the rising opportunity costs of childbearing, labour market uncertainty, housing facts and instability of partnerships.”

That has certainly been our experience to date. Eavesdropping whilst waiting for the midwife / nurse has meant that we’ve discovered that a 39-year-old having her fourth kid and a 36-year-old having her first baby is actually the norm, much to my surprise.

I’d imagine that our experiences have partly been a consequence of where we reside. Berkhamsted – recently described by the Daily Mail as “The town that thinks it’s too posh for a Lidl” – tends to be inhabited by individuals who have moved out of London to settle down, but still need to easily get to the capital. As such, and as per the ONS quote above, a career can often be seen as the priority, with kids being delayed until the biological clock has nearly ticked its last tock. In other areas of the UK – and I’m including where I was born in this – getting a partner, settling down and having a kid tends to be the norm for those that don’t go on to Further Education, thus teenage parents is quite common place.

There’s obviously no right or wrong when it comes to age and parenthood (with the obvious caveat being those under 16-years-old!) but I find it interesting that in Scunthorpe we would be old parents, yet in Berkhamsted we are young.

  • Tim

    My wife and I were 34 and 37 respectively when our first child was born, although it took us four heartbreaking years to finally conceive after three miscarriages and lots of wondering whether there was something ‘wrong’ with one or both of us. We did both NCT and NHS ante-natal classes (we were new to the area, so it was more about making friends than because we needed teaching twice!), and in the latter I think there were only two out of about 25 mums-to-be who were under 20, and probably a good half a dozen who were older than my wife.

    It’s swings and roundabouts, really. A part of me wishes we had started having children soon after we were married (we were 23 and 26 then), but there’s also a part of me that was happy we waited a bit so that we had money put away to spend on a larger house and baby’s needs, and we had also done much of the travelling we wanted to, so there are no regrets. On balance, I’d have liked to have started having children around the age of 30 rather than 37, but life is what it is and I have no regrets either way.

    • Hi Tim – thanks for sharing your story and sorry it took me so long to reply, the notification never popped up! I think you’re right, there are ups and downs when it comes to most decisions in life, but the important thing is to not have any regrets. Just get on with what is in front of you and make the most of it. Thanks.

  • Keri Jones

    I ‘told’ my husband I wanted us to have a baby before he was 30. I suppose I thought any age after that would make him too old to enjoy time with our LO. I am now extremely grateful to have a baby at all. I have so many friends who’ve miscarried or who struggled with IVF funding, I feel awful remembering some of the things I got fussy about.
    I am from a town where being a young mum (15/16) is the norm. Now I have moved further south I have found more women who are concentrating on their career and therefore having children in their 30’s/40’s. I no longer think age has anything to do with raising a baby, as long as you have the energy, love and caring the child needs then good luck 🙂

    • Very true Keri – age is just a number and has no impact on how much you love and care for a child. The only thing it does have a slight impact on is how much you can run, play and fight with the little ones! I think it’s natural to have things in your head about when you want a baby etc, but the reality can often be different as you say with miscarriage, IVF etc.

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  • I wish I had all 3 of them at 20! Charlotte is constantly putting my back out at the moment (should be the hubsters job!) Though high fives to having all 3 by 26… I am a hero. Or a total whore. ;D