What to Know About Being an Older Parent
By Stacey Feintuch
George Clooney is a dad—to twins—at 56. Janet Jackson is a mother at 50. In today's day and age of adoption, fertility treatments, career before family, stepfamilies and more, many parents—including celebrities—are raising kids in their late 30s, 40s and 50s.
Parenting understandably differs depending on your age. When you're in your 20s, you likely are full of energy—but may have limited patience for all the challenges and changes a child brings. Come your 40s or 50s, you may want a few more naps—but you may have more patience for the demands of raising a child.
Here are a few more things to know about being an older parent.
You're tired. You may get fatigued more easily and have less stamina than when you were in your 20s or 30s. You're not just catnap tired; you feel like you'll never catch up on sleep. You may rely on caffeine and lots of it to keep you going (but you might be better off trying these foods that help you sleep).
You're not the grandparents. You may get insulted if people assume you're the grandparents. Yes, you may look older than some moms and may even be the same age as some grandparents. But you and your child know you're the mom, and that's all that matters.
Your kids keep you young. Your kids help you stay on top of trends. You know the latest child-raising advice. You get to color, experiment with Play-Doh and sing nursery rhymes. You get to visit the playgrounds around town. Kids give you that push to get up and out and have some fun (even when it's cold outside).
You know your age. Yes, you know how old you'll be when your child graduates high school and college. You know it's possible that your child's teachers could be your own children. You know you're the oldest parent at back-to-school night or the oldest soccer mom. Wear it proudly. And don't give up the hope that you will be around to see your child become an adult and possibly even a parent.
You're more financially secure. You've likely been working for a while and are established in your career. You no longer live paycheck to paycheck and may have had DINK—dual income, no kids—for some years. So, you have some savings. Possibly you can afford a home, vacations, college tuition and more, all of which may have been more difficult if you had your children earlier in life. Added bonus: If you leave your career for a while to be with your child, it may be easier to return to the workplace because of your years of experience.
You've had life experiences and are settled down. Trip to Europe? Done 10 years ago. Bachelorette party for your besties? Done a few times over. Dining at fancy restaurants? You've had your share of upscale meals. You've already experienced many adventures so you don't feel like you're missing out on life as a younger parent might. Now your family can reap the benefits of your cultural and life experiences.
You don't sweat the small stuff. You've lived a bit. You've experienced some good and bad in your own life. Maybe you don't need to get worked up about the mean mom at the pickup line or the Facebook mommy wars. You've also been watching friends raise children over the years and may have learned a few things along the way. So, you don't worry or panic as much as you might have 10 years ago.
You're more grateful. You know that the road to parenthood isn't always easy. You may have struggled with fertility issues, battled health conditions, waited years to meet the right partner or gone through the difficulties of adopting. All that makes you more appreciative of what you have; you don't take anything for granted. You want to maximize your time with your child and be as hands-on as possible. You know time really does fly by, so you're grateful every day that you have the gift of being a parent.
You will make new friends. You can get to know people at the soccer field, dance class or PTA fundraiser. When you have a child later in life, you're introduced to a whole new group of people and can expand your social group. And you'll likely meet others your age, too.