Fluff - Do Children Provide Happiness or Misery?

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Alissa_Sal's picture
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Fluff - Do Children Provide Happiness or Misery?

Do Children Bring Happiness

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Evolutionary psychologists tell us that wanting offspring is hardwired, but for most of us, the decision to have a child is intensely personal?and has become all the more daunting in recent years thanks to several high-profile research studies that have suggested that parents are miserable and stretched to the limit.

Along with a team of social psychologists, Katie Nelson and I decided to take a closer look at the relationship between parenting and well-being. Contrary to recent media messages, the findings turned out to be rather mixed. Some studies using large-scale nationally representative datasets find that parents are happier and more satisfied than their childless peers, some studies find no difference, and some studies find the reverse. The more we scrutinized the literature, the more convinced we became that the question of whether parents are happier than nonparents is not a very meaningful one. Rather, it depends on the parent?and the child.

Our analysis revealed that certain types of parents (e.g., young parents and parents with small children) are particularly unhappy, while other types (e.g., fathers, married parents, and empty nesters) report especially high life satisfaction, happiness, or meaning. In other words, whether or not children go hand in hand with happiness depends on many factors, including our age, marital status, income and social support, as well as whether our children live with us and have difficult temperaments. Whether we ourselves were securely attached to our own parents is even a factor.

For example, in our own research with a large sample of U.S. adults, my team found that, compared to older parents, parents ages 17 to 25 were less satisfied with their lives than their peers without kids. However, all types of parents reported having more meaning in life than did their childless counterparts, suggesting that the rewards of parenting may be more ineffable than the daily highs (or lows).

Some might argue that parents are deluding themselves: Having sacrificed time, money, and selfhood to parenting, they persuade themselves that, of course, their children make them happy. To rule out this explanation, we decided to unobtrusively measure parents? actual day-to-day experiences of parenting. Parents randomly beeped throughout the day reported more positive emotions than nonparents, and parents reported more positive emotions and meaning when they weretaking care of their children than when they were doing other activities, like working or eating.

My four children range from 3 months to 14 years, so I can attest firsthand to the truism that kids are the source of our greatest joy and our greatest sorrow. Children give our lives purpose, infuse fun and pride into our lives, and enrich our identities. At the same time, they are also vectors for worry, anger, and disappointment; they deprive us of energy and sleep; and they strain our finances and our marriages. Not surprisingly, research suggests that the downsides of parenting are more evident when kids are very young or teenagers, and when we lack the resources (monetary, social, developmental) to manage them. Keep these findings in mind when deciding to have a child, and consider that 94% of parents say that it is still worth it, despite the costs.

I'm sure that none of us are surprised by the results - having kids is harder (aka more miserable LOL!) when they are younger, or teenagers, or if you have less of a support system or are strapped for cash. Pretty common sense, but still opens the conversation, in YOUR experience, do children provide more happiness or misery? Be honest! LOL
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Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

This made me laugh a little because I was unhappy last night. Reid is teething, I think, or else he's going through the four month sleep regression, or maybe he's just lost his mind. I'm sure I don't have to elaborate in this crowd. Smile Also, sometimes T drives me nuts. There are days when I have to ask him over and over again to do something because he'll be in the middle of doing it (let's say, getting dressed) and then get distracted (decides to play guitar instead). Repeat, repeat, repeat. Also, there are days when I wish everyone would just stop touching me.

Having said all of that, I also agree with the article that the highs of child rearing are higher than my pre-child life. There are moments of pure happiness, moments of such pride, moments that make your eyes tear up with the sheer love and beauty of it all. I also think that having a family has given me a whole new reason to love my husband. Some of the moments when I love him the most fiercely are the moments when I see and understand what an amazing dad he is. Watching him loving our children adds a layer to our relationship that makes my heart almost hurt with happiness and love. So there is all that too.

Mostly, I can't imagine what else I would be doing with my time if I didn't have these terrible wonderful gorgeous awful little people demanding all of my attention and energy and making me crazy with love and frustration and happiness and pride and annoyance. Like, I have no idea what I did with all of that time and energy and money that I wasn't spending on them in my twenties, and I have no idea what I would do with myself if I didn't have them now. That would be just awful. So on the balance, I'm voting "happiness" with a bonus of "what else do I have to do anyway?" LOL

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6560

My children give me great happiness. There are times when it is sad, like right now when my 3 year old is burning up with a 101.2 fever and I do not know what is wrong or how to fix it, but even in those times there is joy in holding her in my arms (The rare moments when she wants to cuddle are precious). There are times when I enjoy a break from my children, but overall, my children give me happiness.

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
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I think there's a happiness gap between younger parents and older parents. IME it seems a lot of the younger parents (age 25 or less when their first baby was born) don't really know what they're getting into, kwim? They do seem to expect their kids to make them happy, keep their partners from straying, turn the world into sunshine & rainbows, and they are genuinely shocked at the amount of time-suck and hard work that comes along with kids. The older parents (age 35 or more when their first child was born) generally seem more to know what to *really* expect and generally seem more confident in taking it on 110%, seeing the glass half full (I didn't see it as sitting up half the night with a colicky baby; it was many quiet hours to stare at her beautiful face & inspect the wrinkles on her toes) and/or being more open to doing things that work rather than what we think we're supposed to do (I slept in the papasan chair with her on my chest, colic stopped, I got sleep, everyone happy). Also IME the younger parents tend to have a much higher divorce or breakup rate (over 100% because some of them have multiple breakups with their co-parents, I only know one couple who is still together who had their kids young) than the parents who are older when they have their kids (0%) which certainly affects personal happiness and family stability. Or maybe I just know a bunch of young parents who are lazy whiny slackers in bad relationships, LOL.

I love seeing the world through new eyes. I love how much more I *feel* things since they were born. I love how much more energy I have. Yes, they do exhaust me sometimes, but more often than that, they rev me up with their own limitless energy. They do make me happy most of the time, but my happiness is not their problem, it's totally up to me. Even when they completely tick me off, I usually choose to try to find happiness in the moment because I simply don't like feeling negative about anything, but especially not about my kids. I chose to have them, and I chose to wait a long time to have them to make sure that I had the resources, the support network, and the emotional maturity to be a good parent to them and give us all a better chance at happiness. Because their happiness *is* my job and I didn't think I was equipped to do it earlier in my life.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
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Haha Stacey, maybe my feelings about parenthood are more complex than just happy or just miserable because I fall in between your two parenting age groups (married at 25, had our first baby at 27.)

I totally agree that my happiness is not their responsibility and that their happiness is my responsibility. Well put! Smile

KimPossible's picture
Joined: 05/24/06
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happiness means so many things. Just because they cause situational stress doesn't mean they don't bring joy to your life overall.

I read that piece and what i got out of it is "stressfull things can make you feel unhappy in the moment"

FTR, i started my family young...it was a great choice for us, i'm happy with it and don't regret doing it that way. Doesn't mean that on any given day you haven't found me frustrated or just plain unhappy.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
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"KimPossible" wrote:

happiness means so many things. Just because they cause situational stress doesn't mean they don't bring joy to your life overall.

I read that piece and what i got out of it is "stressfull things can make you feel unhappy in the moment"

FTR, i started my family young...it was a great choice for us, i'm happy with it and don't regret doing it that way. Doesn't mean that on any given day you haven't found me frustrated or just plain unhappy.

Yes Kim, that's kind of what I got too. I'm always surprised when people seem to imply that their kids never really make them feel unhappy. Maybe it's the way I'm wired, but I don't have it in me to be joyous and appreciative in the moment when I'm up for the 4th time in the middle of the night with a crying baby that just. will not. sleep. Which is not to say that my over arching experience isn't one of love and happiness and joy, but that indivdual moments can still suck pretty big.

KimPossible's picture
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"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

Yes Kim, that's kind of what I got too. I'm always surprised when people seem to imply that their kids never really make them feel unhappy. Maybe it's the way I'm wired, but I don't have it in me to be joyous and appreciative in the moment when I'm up for the 4th time in the middle of the night with a crying baby that just. will not. sleep. Which is not to say that my over arching experience isn't one of love and happiness and joy, but that indivdual moments can still suck pretty big.

Yep...I'm the same way. Its much like i can't understand people who don't ever want to leave their kids and go do something by themselves. I love my kids! They bring me great joy!...but so do my moments when i'm not with them.

Smile

Joined: 03/08/03
Posts: 3187

Yeah, none of this is news to me, I don't quite get it as a topic for an article!

Mine are 9 and almost 6. For us, the hardest phase was the baby/toddler phase, because of the sheer exhaustion. You love them, they're so cute, you delight in every new thing they do, but you don't get enough sleep and when you're awake with them you have to be vigilant at all times to keep them out of physical danger, make sure they're eating/pooping/sleeping etc. While that was cute & all, it was more exhausting.

Now it's different, and I get a whole new kind of joy from them, from talking to them, seeing them do things on their own, and I love that they're still young enough to snuggle and cuddle and be so open with their love, their questions, and their opinions.

I'm sure when adolescence hits I'll be singing a different tune.

But yeah...all in all it's both. They give meaning to life, they remind me of what's important, they give me joy. They frustrate me, they make me miss going to the movies & having "what should I do today?" days, they exhaust me too.

I love the time I spend with them and I love getting time on my own or just with my husband or just with my friends.

They teach me to milk the joy out of what I can, and to have perspective when things are tough.

I don't even find things specific to parents' ages...I see quite the range and no real consistency to it. I'm an older parent and that's just how my life went, and I can see advantages and disadvantages.

To the question....a lot more happiness than misery. A lot more. But occasionally....misery.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
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I had my children young, and I know many happy people that had children young. I only know a few people who have divorced. All of my friends are still together with their first husband/wife going on 10 years or more. Many/most of them had children young.

I do not think how old you are when you start your family is related to how happy/unhappy you are.

Joined: 03/08/03
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"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

I do not think how old you are when you start your family is related to how happy/unhappy you are.

I agree. I think the bigger factor is how much of a choice it was. Some people started families earlier than they wanted to, some started later.

Joined: 05/31/06
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In other words, whether or not children go hand in hand with happiness depends on many factors, including our age, marital status, income and social support, as well as whether our children live with us and have difficult temperaments. Whether we ourselves were securely attached to our own parents is even a factor.

Thats the crux of it, to me. In other words, the article didn't really say anything other than its hard to be poor, single, have difficult or unhealthy kids, have little or no family support, have an unsupportive partner, to be very young or very old parents, to have no friends or community, etc. Duh.

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"Potter75" wrote:

In other words, whether or not children go hand in hand with happiness depends on many factors, including our age, marital status, income and social support, as well as whether our children live with us and have difficult temperaments. Whether we ourselves were securely attached to our own parents is even a factor.

Thats the crux of it, to me. In other words, the article didn't really say anything other than its hard to be poor, single, have difficult or unhealthy kids, have little or no family support, have an unsupportive partner, to be very young or very old parents, to have no friends or community, etc. Duh.

YES! This is it exactly....well put.

Danifo's picture
Joined: 09/07/10
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I think kids can make certain circumstances worse or harder to deal with but that would be more dealing with the normal stress of raising a child on top of the stress of certain events.

My mom had me when she was 20, a 9th grade drop out and she divorced within a year. Hardly a good start but with strong family support, she went back to school and became a teacher. She was never in a position to have more kids and it would have been a shame if she never got to be a mom because she is great at it.

Joined: 08/17/04
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I agree with those that have said that it's not really news. There are times when it's "misery" I guess but I don't like to use misery because it's never been THAT bad to me. A few weeks ago we went for about 3 weeks with wacky sleep times coupled with both of us working full time jobs it's hard. We were tired but that stuff happens.

Both of my children can be "difficult" in different ways. The oldest can melt down and tantrum because she has a hard time with her emotions and expressions. The youngest one is full of drama and sass.

But overall, for about 95% of my life I am happy. I wanted them and worked so hard to get them. They are not responsible for my happiness but they are one of my largest sources of happiness.

mom3girls's picture
Joined: 01/09/07
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I am pretty sure that it is all in how you look at things. I really like to focus on all the awesome stuff that my kids bring into my life and not dwell in the moments that are hard. But I do have to say that having a teenager is really slowing down the number of wonderful moments. Took her jeans shopping today and I can see how some may think kids make a parent miserable.

Stacie, in my experience the age of parents are exactly opposite in correlation to happiness then your experience. All of the parents I know that started having kids later have a harder time finding the happiness in parenting. I have always thought it was that they had lived in a certain pattern for so longs and kids really change that. I had a student this year who had parents in their late 40s (he was 4) and they both shared that they loved parenting him, but really did miss the spontaneity and the ability to do whatever they wanted.

Joined: 05/31/06
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I hate it when people generalize like that based on their very limited experience. So annoying. The stats are clear at least as far as young marriage and divorce is concerned- certainly that would be one indicator of happiness. That said I think that both Stacey's and Lisa's generalizations are the sort which raise hackles- for good reason.

KimPossible's picture
Joined: 05/24/06
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I think its just as wrong to say "getting married and having children young will make you happier" as it is to say "getting married and having children young will make you unhappier"

Its the causation vs. correlation thing.

I find it way more likely for people to feel unhappy trying to raise kids if:
a)They find themselves in the situation somewhat accidentally
b)They are highly naive and immature
c)They are finanically unstable
d)People arround you are unsupportive of your choices

And there are probably others.

Now i do think all of those things are probably more likely in the younger crowd.

However, if you are young and none of those things are accurate, well then *poof* i think age has little to do with it and your liklihood of being unhappy magically dwindles away and is more level with older people.

Causation vs. Correlation...its not really about some magical cutoff age.

KimPossible's picture
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"mom3girls" wrote:

I had a student this year who had parents in their late 40s (he was 4) and they both shared that they loved parenting him, but really did miss the spontaneity and the ability to do whatever they wanted.

You think young people don't say that?

I totally miss the spontaneity factor! And totally did when I was in my 20s too.

I mean really...we are making issues here where they don't exist. Missing spontaneity and getting to do whatever you want to is totally natural at any age.

ftmom's picture
Joined: 09/04/06
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I totally agree that your support system makes a big difference to your happiness with kids. Mainly because I dont really have one nearby, and a lot of my 'miserable' moments with the kids stem from that. For me it is the moments when I feel trapped with them, cant go to book club cause DH is working, cant go on a date with my husband, etc. I guess finances also play into that, cause we cant afford to just get a babysitter whenever we want to, but have to save up for special occasions.

Anyways, that sounds like I dont like my kids, but it is only moments when I feel this way. Generally they make me happy, and when they climb on my lap and snuggle in, tell me they love me, when the baby gives me kiss after kiss all over my face, they run to me when I walk in the door my heart feels like it is going to explode it is so full of love for them. So I would say that in general they have improved my life and made me happier, and I think I would have less unhappy moments if we had better support around us.

mom3girls's picture
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"KimPossible" wrote:

You think young people don't say that?

I totally miss the spontaneity factor! And totally did when I was in my 20s too.

I mean really...we are making issues here where they don't exist. Missing spontaneity and getting to do whatever you want to is totally natural at any age.

OH I know young parents say that as well, I do all the time. I was just trying to illustrate to Stacie that her examples could be countered by others experiences. I dont think age has anything to do with happiness, as I stated I think it really has to do with state of mind.

KimPossible's picture
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"mom3girls" wrote:

OH I know young parents say that as well, I do all the time. I was just trying to illustrate to Stacie that her examples could be countered by others experiences. I dont think age has anything to do with happiness, as I stated I think it really has to do with state of mind.

Oh okay because the way your other post was worded, it sounded like you were trying to say that younger parents are happier.

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"mom3girls" wrote:

OH I know young parents say that as well, I do all the time. I was just trying to illustrate to Stacie that her examples could be countered by others experiences. I dont think age has anything to do with happiness, as I stated I think it really has to do with state of mind.

If you reread your post I think you will see that really isn't what you
said.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
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I did not take it that way at all. Stacy's post (IMO) was saying that generally in her experience that older parents are happier. Lisa's post (again IMO) was saying that in her experience it is the opposite.

mom3girls's picture
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Just reread and my post and it did come across that I think younger parents are happier, I apologize that is not what I meant to say. I think for every reason that one group is happier there is a counter reason that another group is happier. It all comes out to be pretty even in the end.

Joined: 05/31/06
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Or we could just conclude that people that have their children in their early 30's (not too early, not too late) are MOST likely to be happiest.

Still young enough to be most flexible, yet have financial comforts (sitters and time away from kids matter to both a mothers sanity and a couples happiness, as shown in this thread and verified through study after study!), know who they are, and generally have a more stable support system. They are also more likely to be on a first marriage and to stay married.

Ha Smile I, of course, had my children in my early 30's, and yes, of course I am biased, just like Stacey and Lisa.

And I am just kidding, after saying that those posts annoyed me. It is funny, though, and personally I do think that both extremes DO tend to be harder than a non extreme, just logically.

KimPossible's picture
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"Potter75" wrote:

Or we could just conclude that people that have their children in their early 30's (not too early, not too late) are MOST likely to be happiest.

Still young enough to be most flexible, yet have financial comforts (sitters and time away from kids matter to both a mothers sanity and a couples happiness, as shown in this thread and verified through study after study!), know who they are, and generally have a more stable support system. They are also more likely to be on a first marriage and to stay married.

Ha Smile I, of course, had my children in my early 30's, and yes, of course I am biased, just like Stacey and Lisa.

And I am just kidding, after saying that those posts annoyed me. It is funny, though, and personally I do think that both extremes DO tend to be harder than a non extreme, just logically.

I will say, while i was not unhappy in my twenties...i sure do like my thirties.

I think even if i had no kids, i'd enjoy my thirties more than my twenties.

Joined: 08/17/04
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I agree Kim. I love being in my 30s. I like how I feel about myself and how I care less about what others think of me.

ftmom's picture
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I think it just really depends on where YOU are in your life. Like someone else said, if you are ready and know what you are getting into (and by you I mean both partners) I think you will be happier with kids. I think that the stats skew towards young people being unhappy with kids, because you are more impulsive when you are young and havent necessarily thought things through the same way an older person would. Of course that is a generality, but isnt that how this article is written? Generally, people with better support are happier, generally older parents are happier....etc.

PS. Why do I always have to spell check 'necessary'? It is seriously the weirdest looking word to me and I cant spell it right to save my life!

mom3girls's picture
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I love my 30s too. But my pregnancy at 33 was way harder on my body then at 22. I dont know if it was because of my age or because it was my 4th pregnancy

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I think that that is more a function of having other children to care for (exhausting) and it being your 4th pregnancy (earlier braxton hicks, getting bigger faster, more mentally challenging as you know what is coming and there is less of that magic and mystery etc.....). I was lucky to be very fit and healthy going into each pregnancy, but still found my 3rd more exhausting than my 1st. I was only 3 years older, but it is hard to compare a pregnancy with no children to care for to a pregnancy where you are caring for (in my case) a 2 and 3 year old all day long. For me, it had nothing to do with age, simply life circumstances, which made one pregnancy harder or more tiring than the other. The nice thing about being financially stable etc because I was older was that I had the resources to get massages, workout, etc, to minimize those very natural effects (I was 31, 32, and 34 when I had my children).

Joined: 03/08/03
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I agree with Melissa. I had my first baby at 37 and I had a great pregnancy and felt healthy and good the whole time (and I wasn't a very fit person at the time, nothing serious, but I wasn't paying much attention to the nutritional value of what I was eating). I had my second at 41 and it was a little harder but mostly because I had a toddler and a few years of sleep deprivation already there.

I also LOVED my thirties. You are old enough to have some perspective and to understand the value of the good things you have, and young enough to know you have decades yet to go to do more. My forties have been fun but have more sadness as I have lost loved ones and had to deal with more grown-up stuff that I try to avoid.

I still feel like a teenager a lot of the time, just stumbling on through and trying to have a good time while I do it. I have great examples in my family of people changing their lives when they wanted to in their 40s, 50s, even 60s, and I have a 94-year-old grandmother who golfs, goes to the movies, has an active life, etc. Good role models.

Anyway parenting also runs the gamut in my family, from very young to very old. I don't think it's specific to age, it's just another factor and depends on where you are in your life.

Joined: 05/13/02
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My husband and I had our children young (I was 22 when Thomas was born...seems like ages ago). We did have a period when Thomas was about 2 1/2 where we almost split up. Not necessarily because of being parents, but that probably was a bit of a contributing factor. While I wouldn't change anything, because I know our past makes us what we are today, it probably would have been easier to enjoy the younger years of our kids lives if we had maybe been closer to 30, or more financially stable. It is nice to think that our youngest will go to college when I'm only 45, though Smile

Alissa_Sal's picture
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Count me in as another one who is loving her 30's way more than her 20's. I like to think that I got to keep all of the good things about myself from my 20's (example: my sense of humor) but add to that a lot more strength and experience and self confidence (and money! Woohoo!)

Joined: 05/13/02
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I love being in my 30s, too!

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And I will be honest and say I wouldn't want an "empty nest" at 45. I'd feel too young for that, personally. Like men who retire too early and drive their spouses crazy I would miss the hustle and bustle of kids in the home if I was still that young. I don't want to be a grandmother at 45- heck- many of my friends are still having babies at 38. everyone is different I know, but I enjoy parenting my kids with a bit more age and life experience under my belt. My mom was only 22 when she had me and I saw firsthand how her lack of life experience and her 100% reliance on my dad for certain things created a power dynamic in their marriage and in their parenting that I am grateful to not have to have. They have an amazing marriage- but I simply am grateful to have lived a bit of my own life before having to live for a husband and children.

Joined: 03/08/03
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Me too. I built up my career, too, which has given me a lot more freedom now to establish limits at work so I can be with my kids. I could not have been in tv production like I was in my 20s and 30s and been there for my kids at night the way I am now.

KimPossible's picture
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"freddieflounder101" wrote:

Me too. I built up my career, too, which has given me a lot more freedom now to establish limits at work so I can be with my kids. I could not have been in tv production like I was in my 20s and 30s and been there for my kids at night the way I am now.

YES, this is fantastic...although i find that its still beneficial even though some of my kids are older and not all little anymore.

In regards to being a young empty nester, i won't be that young. I'll be 51 when Cecilia turns 18..but i still think that is somewhat young compared to others these days. I personally wouldn't want to be much older than that and would have been fine being younger, but that was shaped by my own parents experience, mom me at 41, and my dad was 48. My dad was 70 when i graduated from college...which is also when he stopped working.

I also see my brother and his wife, now that his two kids are 20 and 22 and they are having a great time, very much so enjoying their kids as adults. I look forward to that stage, when we are all adults together.

Funny how much personal experience plays into things!

Alissa_Sal's picture
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"KimPossible" wrote:

Funny how much personal experience plays into things!

Yep! My mom and dad were 19 when they had me, so I was feeling a bit "old" when I had T at 27. My parents are now in their early 50's and enjoying being grandparents but also enjoying traveling and being relatively active and healthy and young, which looks nice. I don't think my 8 year lag will make a huge difference, but l also see the benefit of being a young parent when you reach that end of it. I'm sure it wasn't fun when they were actually 19 and struggling to make ends meet though.

Joined: 08/17/04
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I do think how we grew up plays into things. My mom was 20 and my dad 26 when I was born and they were not financially stable. 33 years later they are and can enjoy themselves but I knew I didn't want that. I wanted to have a house first and know I could afford them. It did take me longer than I thought to have the first one but I like that I had her at 28 and then #2 at almost 30. I felt like I lived most of my 20s but that I was still a younger parent.

I think for my mom when she was 45 I was 25 and my brother 19. I think she was ready to have an empty nest because she had been raising us for all of her young adult years. I know it is hard for me to imagine that they will be gone in 12 years since they'll be 15 and 17 only.

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I was recently chatting with a co-worker who said, "Well I wouldn't want to have an 8-year-old when I'm 50!" I turned to her and said, "Um...I WILL have an 8-year-old when I'm 50."

D'oh.

ftmom's picture
Joined: 09/04/06
Posts: 1538

I actually like the fact that I hadnt really 'started' my career when the kids were born. I got my degrees, and a few years of experience and then had my babies. I have kept my hand in with some subbing, but have generally been able to stay home with them for these preschool years. Then when they are in school I will be able to concentrate on my work and advance my career without having to take time off for babies, which was important to us. Part of this is that i am a teacher in an economy that doesnt need teachers, so it may take me 5-10 years to get a permanent position somewhere, especially with us moving around like we have to for DH's job. Taking my years maternity would restart that anyways. Also being a teacher, when they are in school I can work most of my hours around them so wont miss out as much on their lives at that point.

BTW, I do not really love my 30s.

Joined: 08/17/04
Posts: 2226

I think that also is a feeling if you have had kids young. My mom's friend had her child at 41 and her dh was 43 (I think...it is an only child) and my mom said...wow I can't imagine having a 7 year old at 50. I said...that's probably because you already did that. You were a grandmother at 48 with your second at 53. Of course you wouldn't want a little one now! :).

But had you only started having kids in your late 30s or early 40s it's not such a big deal.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6560

"ftmom" wrote:

BTW, I do not really love my 30s.

I have only been in my 30's for 2 years, but overall I did like my 20's more than my 30's so far. That is not to say that I am not happy now (I am), but so much fun stuff happened in my 20's.

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

A big differentiating factor between our generation and a generation or two ago is retirement age. With people living and working as long as they are ~ odds are VERY few of you or your spouses are going to retire at 60. If you become grandparents at 45, you are working through your grandchildren's entire youth. Your GRANDCHILDREN are "out of the nest" before you even retire and have the time to attend many of their after school sports, or really get to know them etc. Personally I don't want that. My parents lucked out in that my father is actually retired at 62 and able to be around for his grandkids (and since we had kids late they are young, they have 6 6 and under with a few more to come....) but had I started having kids at 22, they would be almost done high school now and my Dad would have barely gotten to know them as he would have been traveling all the time and working long hours. My Mom would have been a single grandparent much like she was in some ways a single parent due to his working and traveling. I look forward to my husband knowing our grandkids as well as I do as they will come along at a more natural time in our lifespan, a time when we are actually closer to retirement and have the time and inclination to spend a lot of time getting to know them and have the ability to help them financially etc etc.

I think that having kids was one of the more exciting times of my life. I would have been sad to have had that emotional peak early in only the second decade of what will hopefully be an 8 or 9 decade life. When people only lived 50 years that timing or teen pregnancy made more sense to me. Now, not so much.

Joined: 03/08/03
Posts: 3187

Actually I sometimes think about how great it would have been to be a young parent. Not in a regrets sort of way, but I grew up having young parents and young grandparents and I loved it. I saw my grandparents in their very active years, we spent tons of time with them going for sleepovers and outings. And my grandmother is now a great-grandmother, her oldest grandchild is 20! They can talk and hang out. I was extremely close to my other grandmother (who died a long time ago now), we used to hang out and go to the movies, even when I was a teenager I would call her up to go spend time with her.

I sometimes feel a little bad for my kids that I will be in my 60s when they're in their 20s, more or less. I plan to be a young 60, but still.....if they wait until I did to have kids then I won't have tons of time with my grandchildren when I'm still living a busy active engaged life.

So there's that.

As always, there are advantages and disadvantages to everything.

KimPossible's picture
Joined: 05/24/06
Posts: 3312

"freddieflounder101" wrote:

Actually I sometimes think about how great it would have been to be a young parent. Not in a regrets sort of way, but I grew up having young parents and young grandparents and I loved it. I saw my grandparents in their very active years, we spent tons of time with them going for sleepovers and outings. And my grandmother is now a great-grandmother, her oldest grandchild is 20! They can talk and hang out. I was extremely close to my other grandmother (who died a long time ago now), we used to hang out and go to the movies, even when I was a teenager I would call her up to go spend time with her.

I sometimes feel a little bad for my kids that I will be in my 60s when they're in their 20s, more or less. I plan to be a young 60, but still.....if they wait until I did to have kids then I won't have tons of time with my grandchildren when I'm still living a busy active engaged life.

So there's that.

As always, there are advantages and disadvantages to everything.

My mom is very tearful sometimes that she feels she psychically can't keep up with my kids or offer help to my kids or my sisters' kids the way she used to with my brothers kids when they were young. It upsets her a lot.

BUT, you know, I know a lot of women her age (she's in her mid 70's) who are physically in better condition than she is. She has had a lot of physical ailments in her older years that don't nec. plague everyone.

Joined: 03/08/03
Posts: 3187

"KimPossible" wrote:

My mom is very tearful sometimes that she feels she psychically can't keep up with my kids or offer help to my kids or my sisters' kids the way she used to with my brothers kids when they were young. It upsets her a lot.

BUT, you know, I know a lot of women her age (she's in her mid 70's) who are physically in better condition than she is. She has had a lot of physical ailments in her older years that don't nec. plague everyone.

I know, there are variables you can't predict anyway. My dad is 71 and very healthy and active, he takes my kids on outings. etc. My mom died this year of cancer, which we would never have predicted, we thought she had many years ahead of her to spend with her grandchildren. (At least they all made it to her wedding a year earlier, which thrilled her.)

So you just don't know. I have been inspired to get healthy specifically because I think of my kids and how I want to stay active for them, but who can predict?

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6560

"Potter75" wrote:

A big differentiating factor between our generation and a generation or two ago is retirement age. With people living and working as long as they are ~ odds are VERY few of you or your spouses are going to retire at 60. If you become grandparents at 45, you are working through your grandchildren's entire youth. Your GRANDCHILDREN are "out of the nest" before you even retire and have the time to attend many of their after school sports, or really get to know them etc. Personally I don't want that. My parents lucked out in that my father is actually retired at 62 and able to be around for his grandkids (and since we had kids late they are young, they have 6 6 and under with a few more to come....) but had I started having kids at 22, they would be almost done high school now and my Dad would have barely gotten to know them as he would have been traveling all the time and working long hours. My Mom would have been a single grandparent much like she was in some ways a single parent due to his working and traveling. I look forward to my husband knowing our grandkids as well as I do as they will come along at a more natural time in our lifespan, a time when we are actually closer to retirement and have the time and inclination to spend a lot of time getting to know them and have the ability to help them financially etc etc.

I think that having kids was one of the more exciting times of my life. I would have been sad to have had that emotional peak early in only the second decade of what will hopefully be an 8 or 9 decade life. When people only lived 50 years that timing or teen pregnancy made more sense to me. Now, not so much.

This perspective is going to be different for everyone. Me personally, I would rather be young when my grandchildren are young and get to see them grow up and become parents and grandparents themselves.

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

well, yes. That too is a matter of perspective. There are some areas of Philadelphia where it is common to be a grandparent at 40, or even 35. Then again, many of those grandparents suffer from obesity, diabetes, smoke, and can't exactly play hide and seek with their grandchildren.

I'm not worried about being fit and healthy at 60 or 65 as a Grandparent because I take great care of myself every day and see how young and healthy and active my parents are at 60 and 62. Of course I could get hit by a bus tomorrow too :).

Age alone at childbirth does not guarantee anything. I know many people who because of their lifestyle choices can't do things with their grandchildren because they can hardly walk at 65. Other people are spending their days on the golf course or tennis court at that age. So many choices involved in all that.

Joined: 03/08/03
Posts: 3187

"Potter75" wrote:

well, yes. That too is a matter of perspective. There are some areas of Philadelphia where it is common to be a grandparent at 40, or even 35. Then again, many of those grandparents suffer from obesity, diabetes, smoke, and can't exactly play hide and seek with their grandchildren.

I'm not worried about being fit and healthy at 60 or 65 as a Grandparent because I take great care of myself every day and see how young and healthy and active my parents are at 60 and 62. Of course I could get hit by a bus tomorrow too :).

Age alone at childbirth does not guarantee anything. I know many people who because of their lifestyle choices can't do things with their grandchildren because they can hardly walk at 65. Other people are spending their days on the golf course or tennis court at that age. So many choices involved in all that.

Choices + circumstance. It's definitely a combination.

I have a 94-year-old fit active grandmother but my other grandmother, also trim and healthy, died of cancer in her 70s.

Bottom line, there aren't really absolutes in this area. Being a young parent and a young grandparent can be fantastic. On the other hand, having the wisdom and confidence that comes with age can also be fantastic! And being in the right place in your own life to have kids is key, although people can make do and do well when they need do.

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