Older First-Time Parents

November 2, 2013

When Charlie Chaplin fathered his last child at the age of 73, men crowed about his manhood and thought it was an extraordinary accomplishment. Women, in those days, were having first-time babies in their teens and ending their reproductive years in their thirties.

Doctors didn’t encourage women to have first-time babies after they hit their thirties, yet here it is, many decades later, and women are delaying motherhood until their late thirties, early forties.

Not every woman feels her biological clock ticking in her thirties and forties. A woman in India caused a lot of controversy by having her first child at the age of seventy. Many people felt that it was morally wrong for a woman who was living on the dole to have a child at that age but now, she and her husband want to try for more children.

With the various types of fertility treatments that are available these days, women are now able to delay having children until a time of their choosing. They can have full careers, travel, buy their first house, and then start a family, and many of them are doing just that.

There is always a concern that an older woman might not have the physical stamina required to keep up with the high energy level of a curious toddler who gets into everything and never seems to run out of steam. However, I would be equally concerned about the older woman’s mental ability and her reflexes.

There is the joke about the sixty-two-year-old woman who comes home from the hospital with her newborn. A few of her friends come to visit her and ask to see her new baby. She tells them that he is sleeping and when he wakes up, she will let them see him.

For the next couple of hours, her friends sporadically ask to see the baby and the answer remains the same. Finally, they hear the baby crying and the new mother says, “Oh, now I remember where I put him.”

Although this was a joke, the reality is that even those who are blessed with a wonderful memory, still experience significant memory loss with the passing years. I question whether this memory loss will become problematic for a much older woman as she copes with the physical and mental demands of young children.

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