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.