There are a lot of factors that can determine how a child grows up. Things like location, social status, living situation, having siblings or not, all that and more can have a rather profound impact on traits and skills that a child develops.
One such variable that's always been a topic for debate is the age at which the parents had said child. While some advocate for starting a family young while you have more life left to give, others are pushing for a later average age, claiming numerous benefits for those who wait.
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The age at which people are having their first child is growing. While it was once common for those in their mid 20s want to start a family, established with a purchased home and set careers, that age has been pushed forward as decades have passed.
Nowadays, there are plenty of women over 30, 35, even over 40 who are having their first child. What was once considered taboo has become the norm, and there's tons of professional support behind the movement.
A Calculated Response
One such outspoken supporter of waiting to have children is Christine Noa Sterling, M.D., FACOG, an OB-GYN who recently made the rounds on TikTok for explaining why she believes so strongly in people waiting to have children if that's what they want.
The video was in response to a comment she got on a previous post. The comment reads, "Disagree! Having old parents is really hard!"
In response, Dr. Sterling starts her new video by pointing at the comment and saying, "Here's why I will always support people who want to delay childbearing."
Hearing All Sides
"Even if that means they're going to be advanced maternal age," she continues, with 'advanced maternal age' meaning being at older when having a given child.
She then admits that, yeah, the comment isn't entirely wrong. "Having older parents can be hard. Having younger parents can be hard."
"The reason I talk about the benefits of advanced maternal age is because we need some balance in this conversation." She then goes on to explain that you only ever hear about the negatives of being an older parent, with nobody talking about the positives.
Continuing The Conversation
To spread some knowledge, she decides to share some of those positives herself.
"Children of older parents do better in school, are healthier, and have fewer social, emotional, and behavioral difficulties." She then puts up a list of all her sources, with these stats having come from studies done on the children of older parents.
Dr. Sterling spoke to Buzzfeed about not only this TikTok and its statistics, but about other benefits to advanced maternal age, including promoting a longer life.
A Life Lived Longer
"Increased longevity is one of the benefits of having children at an older age. There is evidence that pregnancy after 35 could actually fundamentally change the aging process by impacting something called telomeres which are crucial in the genetics of aging," she explained.
Other benefits for the child include reduced risk of injuries (as a child, anyway) and healthier overall development.
That isn't to say having a child at an older age is all pros with no cons. A common concern is the increased possibility of birth defects, which Dr. Sterling does touch on.
Potential For Good
"There is an increased risk of chromosomal abnormalities in advanced maternal age which are associated with an increased risk of birth defects."
It's not extremely clear-cut yet, as research is still being done, but it's also possible that these chromosomes are normal, meaning there could equally be a decreased risk of birth defects among the children of older parents.
Though this remains up in the air, it's also not confirmed to be worth worrying about should it be a point of debate.
Just In Case
And while Dr. Sterling does promote having children at a younger age, she also encourages taking precautions if you're thinking about waiting. As fertility does decrease with age, she recommends getting your eggs frozen if you're on the fence about things, just to be safe.
"I am a huge proponent of fertility preservation with egg and/or embryo freezing. While it's not a guarantee that you will be able to have your own biological child, it can take a lot of pressure off," she explained.
The Childrens' Perspectives
The comments of her original video were filled with stories from those who had older parents, or whose parents had another child later on, many of them also supporting the idea of advanced maternal age.
"My mom had me at 16 and had my younger sibling at 32. My sibling has had such a better and solid foundation to grow from," wrote one user.
"My mom is 40 years older than me & my dad 42. I grew up more mature & emotionally stable, not to mention always getting great life advice!" said another.
At Any Age
The decision to have a child at any age isn't an easy one, and if someone is truly set on having one or multiple early in their life, that's ultimately their choice to make. The advocacy that Dr. Sterling is doing is more so for the people who feel ashamed to wait, who feel like they're losing time or are being pressured into doing it sooner than they're comfortable with.
Shaming any sort of parent for any behavior that isn't actively harmful is pointless. Anybody can tell you that there's no one right way to parent, and that includes no one right age to start parenting.
Just as there's no one right age to start parenting, there's no one-size-fits-all approach to improving your life. The Law of Attraction is something you can utilize to attract whatever you desire in life, but only if you know how to harness it properly.
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