Pregnancy in your 40s selfish?
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    Online Community Director MissyJ's Avatar
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    Default Pregnancy in your 40s selfish?

    Debate question: Is pregnancy in your 40's selfish? What do you think of this take:

    41 and Pregnant: So What?

    On Friday, British columnist Ashley Pearson, who had her first child at 41, described her discomfort about being part of a recent BBC radio program debating whether older mothers are selfish. "Despite my near-visceral reaction that the question is just plain silly, apparently many people still think so," Pearson wrote. "A recent study showed that a staggering 70 percent of women over the age of 55 are opposed to and uncomfortable with women having babies in their 40s." While the panel consisted of three women and one man, she says the last word was given to the male, a member of British Parliament who had his proverbial knickers in a twist about fertility rates. "[He said] that while some women can have babies later in life, most can't," recounted Pearson in the article. "And that you better get on with it then, hadn't you? On that depressing note, we closed the show."

    It's true that in the United States, as well as in the U.K., more and more women are delaying having babies. According to statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control, birthrates for women in their 40s are at their highest since 1967. With larger numbers of women holding down demanding jobs and with the availability of improved fertility treatments, the increase isn't surprising. In the 1960s, women who were giving birth in their 40s were on a third or fourth child; now it's often their first. But why should having a baby later in life be considered "selfish" at all?


    Today's older mothers are often called selfish presumably because women over 35 have a greater risk of delivering a baby with birth defects, including Down syndrome. However, many health issues, including cancer, mental illness, and autism, are associated with older fathers. Dads of a certain age, though, are considered generous, because they "give" their wives (who are often younger) children. And the same argument holds for critics who weep for children whose older mothers will die earlier, though that hand-wringing does not seem to apply to every paunchy Hollywood actor or grizzled rock star with wrinkles, gray hair, and a litter of toddlers. Another reason why older mothers might be considered selfish is that they are providing their country with fewer babies. This is certainly the case in Britain, where the government has launched a full-throttle fertility campaign, including scary posters of a 40-something pregnant woman made up to look ancient, with the caption "I wish I'd had my babies younger."


    Sure, it would be nice if we could plan out perfect lives ahead of time, but the reality is, many women don't have a lot of choices. During a family dinner on Sunday, my stepdaughter, who is 23 and recently became a member of the full-time labor force, quizzed me on how women are supposed to manage having both children and a career. She's suddenly seeing firsthand that the modern working world allows scant time for taking care of one's self, let alone a pack of kids. My spontaneous answer was, "I have no idea." Despite the fact that I'm a full-time working mother, I didn't have any insightful tips. I sacrificed a number of years of my career in order to care for my youngest daughter, who is now 15. While I'm grateful for that time, it was one of intense anxiety over our family budget, and now, those years gone forever, and I'm out-ranked and out-earned by many of my colleagues who are a decade younger than me.


    Another way women muddle through (forget "balance" ? seesaw is more like it) is to delay childbearing until their late 30s or early 40s, when their seniority is more entrenched. And it pays off: According to University of Virginia economist Amalia Miller, each year a woman delays childbearing results in an increase of career earnings by 10 percent. But even the term "delaying childbearing" presumes a grand plan: What if you don't fall in love until you're 35 or older, or life hijacks you in another 100 unexpected ways?


    What I should have said to my stepdaughter was that the answer may lie in some conversation she needs to have with her future partner. It's mothers and fathers shouldering the responsibility for kids as a team and working out solutions together who might determine innovative ways to achieve that magical balance that has eluded women thus far.

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    Selfish?

    Isn't it always selfish? What makes it more or less selfish at a certain age? This is just silly.
    Laurie, mom to:
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    No, I do not think it is selfish.
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    ~Bonita~

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    Mega Poster mom3girls's Avatar
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    I consider having children to be somewhat selfish, I had kids for me (that I share with the world, but mostly they are for me)
    Lisa
    Molly, Morgan, Mia and Carson

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    Quote Originally Posted by mom3girls View Post
    I consider having children to be somewhat selfish, I had kids for me (that I share with the world, but mostly they are for me)
    I disagree. Being a parent can be one of the most selfless things possible.

    ~Bonita~

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    Posting Addict Spacers's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mom3girls View Post
    I consider having children to be somewhat selfish, I had kids for me (that I share with the world, but mostly they are for me)
    Quote Originally Posted by AlyssaEimers View Post
    I disagree. Being a parent can be one of the most selfless things possible.
    ITA with both of these; they are not mutually exclusive. The decision to have a child absolutely is selfish, in that most people do it to satisfy something in themselves and not because they want to make the world better by bringing yet another person into it, but I also think that, in order to be a good parent, you do need to have a certain sense of selflessness.

    I do think that older moms, especially first time older moms, are often viewed as more selfish because there is an assumption that you must have used fertility treatments, since you obviously didn't care enough about having your kids at the normal time in life, and you must have used all the money you were saving up all those childless years to pay for donor eggs and IVF now that you've finally decided that you want them. And I think it's also partly because people are scared of getting older, or they think of their own grandparents raising little kids, and they project those thoughts onto others, you're depriving your kids because you won't be able to run around with them, since all 50-somethings hobble around with canes, and then you're going to die before they're out of high school and they'll be leaches on society so thanks a lot. You don't get that combination with the other mom groups.
    Last edited by Spacers; 01-20-2014 at 08:19 PM. Reason: forgot a "not"
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    Mega Poster mom3girls's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlyssaEimers View Post
    I disagree. Being a parent can be one of the most selfless things possible.
    Being a parent is selfless (most of the time) but bringing children into the world can be selfish. Everyone has different reasons for having kids, and for picking the age they have kids. And most of the time the reasons people do what they do can be pointed out as being selfish. We started having kids when I was young (Dh is older then me) because we wanted to be able to be young grandparents and have time after the kids were out of the house to travel, that could be considered selfish
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    Lisa
    Molly, Morgan, Mia and Carson

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    I am an older mom and I've never felt any sort of negativity about it. I had my son at 37 and my daughter at 41. No one has ever made me feel like it was a wrong choice, or assumed that I had to have any special help to conceive. (I didn't.)

    And I agree, having kids is selfless AND selfish.
    Laurie, mom to:
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    Posting Addict KimPossible's Avatar
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    I think its a good thing to be selfish in deciding when to have children. They are your children and you have to raise them...its beneficial for everyone involved for you to be as happy as possible with your situation!
    Spacers and Alissa_Sal like this.

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    Posting Addict CamelNoodle's Avatar
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    I see what the article means. We just had a loss (of twins). I would have been 43 when the babies were born. My husband would have been 46. That means when the kids were graduating high school, their parents would be 61 and 64, very close to retirement. By the time they were 40, we'd be 83 and 86. It sets them up to be an orphan much sooner than is typical. I have less energy (but more income) than I did at 23. I can see how it's fine for the parents, but at some time, the kids could suffer. (Though my husband's parents died when he was in his 30s, of smoking related deaths, so who can tell anyways)
    William 10/6/2004
    Visit his CaringBridge
    Joseph stillborn 01/08/2007
    Thomas 05/05/2008
    John 6/5/2010
    m/c 12/23/2012
    m/c 01/02/2014 twin angels

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