Danielle Bertini

Millennials have been a hot button topic recently. Comparisons of the “older” generation versus the “younger” generation have been rampant in all aspects of life. It’s no secret that older generations reached family-planning milestones much earlier than Millennials. Getting married and having babies in one’s twenties was once the norm, and now that is no longer the case. Research has found that between 2007 and 2012, birth rates among women in their twenties declined more than 15% (Newman, 2019). As a generation, Millennials are following a much different timeline that often alarms their parents and grandparents, who were used to linking certain milestones with specific (and younger) ages. This can lead to invasive-seeming questions, especially the dreaded question of “When are you going to have kids?” The article “Millennials Are Not ‘Running Out of Time’ to Have Kids” by Dr. Susan Newman offers 5 helpful responses to baby inquires.

When someone says: “Have babies now, make money.”
You can say: “I may actually earn more if I wait a few years.”A research study done with 1.6 million Danish women aged 25 to 60 found that women who don’t sacrifice career income losses are better off having a first child after age 30. From this sample, the women who became moms before age 25 actually lost between two and two-and-a-half years of income.

When someone says: “You won’t be around to see your kids grow up.”
You can say: “Older mothers may have greater longevity.”
A study done in Menopause Journal reported that women who birthed their last child after they were 33 saw a “significant association for older maternal age,” and had greater odds of living to 95. Another study done from the New England Centenarian Study found that women who gave birth after age 40 were four times more likely to live to 100 or longer than women who gave birth at younger ages. Although there are many factors that affect longevity, these studies still can hold true for many that face daunting stigmas.

When someone says: “It’s so much harder to manage children when you are older.”
You can say: “Studies show that older mothers may have less trouble.”
A British study found that older mothers of preschoolers fare well in most aspects of parenting. The researchers wrote: “Positive and responsive parenting generally increased with maternal age up to about age 40 after which it plateaued.” Thus overall, older motherhood “should not present problems in relation to parenting during the preschool years” (Barnes, Gardiner, Sutcliffe, & Melhuish, 2014).

When someone says: “Kids born to older moms are at a disadvantage.”
You can say: “Children born to older mothers perform well academically.”
A study conducted in Sweden found that when looking at siblings, those born when the mother was older were more likely to perform better on standardized tests, stay in the educational system longer, and more likely to go to college. Several other studies done also support those findings. For example a study reported in the Journal of Marriage and Family found that when older mothers obtain advanced education, their children end up having strong language skills because they are likely to use a higher level of vocabulary with their children (Harding, Morris, & Hughes, 2015). These children benefit in several ways from their mothers’ education and are more likely to excel on cognitive tests, achievement tests, the SATs, and again, are more likely to go to college.

When someone says: “If you wait too long, you’ll miss your chance.”
You can say: “Not necessarily.”
A 2018 Pew study, “They’re Waiting Longer…” points out women ages 40-44 who have never been married have had a baby. Pew reassures those who are bombarded with questions that although women are having babies later, “Women are more likely now to become mothers than they were a decade ago.”

References

Barnes, Jacqueline, Julian Gardiner, Alastair Sutcliffe, and Edward Melhuish. (2014). “The
parenting of preschool children by older mothers in the United Kingdom.” European Journal of Developmental Psychology : Volume 11: Issue 4, pp. 397-419.
Harding, Jessica F., Pamela A. Morris, and Diane Hughes. (2015). “The Relationship Between
Maternal Education and Children’s Academic Outcomes: A Theoretical Framework.” Journal of Marriage and Family, February, pp. 60-75.
Newman, S. (2019, September 17). Millennials Are Not “Running Out of Time” to Have Kids.
Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/singletons/201909/millennials-are-not-running-out-time-have-kids