With more Australian women having babies later in life, the population of ‘older mums’ is growing—and that’s not a bad thing for kids, according to research.
It turns out older mums are likely to be a little more mature and stable in their approach to motherhood, and their children reap the benefits.
Those are the findings of a recent study from Aarhus University in Denmark, and parenting expert Dr Justin Coulson tends to agree.
He said that despite the health problems associated with later-in-life pregnancy, mums giving birth into their 30s are proving to be a little more flexible, and more able to cope, than their younger counterparts.
Mums Waiting Until Their Thirties
“The average age [of giving birth] has increased to about 30 or 31 now in Australia,” Dr Coulson said. “The arguments for waiting seem to be built around economic stability, relationship stability…marriage and family are all happening much later than they were a generation or two ago.
“We know the best time to be having a child is in your mid 20s from a physiological perspective… but older mums tend to be more educated, psychologically mature and stable than younger mums. Their relationships are more stable and they have a higher level of what we call psychological flexibility, which is associated with maturity.”
Dr Coulson says this is a natural outcome of maturing as a person.
“As you get older you can kind of step back and see the big picture and respond more flexibly to challenge circumstances, whereas when you’re younger you tend to be a bit reactive; we blow up from time to time,” he said.
The research shows that selflessness is a factor in mother maturity.
“Hopefully as we get older we deal with the challenges of life better,” Dr Coulson said. “Having children can be one of those challenges.”
Children of Older Mums A Little Better Adjusted
One of the fascinating findings of the research is that the children of older mums deal with life a little better than their playmates.
“The children tend to be a little bit more emotionally stable, they tend to be less likely to have behavioural or social or emotional difficulties,” Dr Coulson explained.
He urged, however, that the findings weren’t meant to make mothers of any age feel guilty or feel that they aren’t doing a good job.
“This isn’t to suggest that any mums are doing poorly,” he said. “If you are a younger mum, this doesn’t say that you’re not a good mum, nor that your children can’t be healthy and happy. We all know many wonderful mums and dads who started young with great kids and wonderful families.
“It just means on the average there’s a slight difference, and you don’t have to feel guilty if you’ve had children older.”
Experience Matches the Research Findings
As a parent of six daughters himself, Dr Coulson said that he and his wife has had “six children across three decades”, and as a result has come in contact with parents of all ages.
“We’ve watched as people have had families older and younger,” he said, “and I think our experience would say that the data is generally accurate.
He stressed the word ‘generally’.
“That’s the thing with psychological studies: you get general findings. That means it’s true for most people to some degree, and there’s a handful of people for whom it’s not true at all.”
‘I’m Older and Wiser’ Says 58-Year-Old Mum of Teens
One 58-year-old mother Annie adopted her two teen boys when she was in her mid to late 40s. The boys are now 15 and 13 and she’s devoted to them.
She feel her age makes her a more stable, mature mother, because all of her ‘busy’ living is behind her.
“I sowed all my wild oats in my youth and therefore am totally devoted to my two boys,” she said. “I really am much more stable and secure financially and socially, I don’t feel like I have to go places and do things. I’m just doing part-time work which helps with motherhood. So I agree that older mums have just a little bit more to offer their children.”
This article was originally published on Hope1032.com.au