One to One Coaching
I offer free 30 minute telephone/Skype consultations for people wanting to find out more about coaching on the 'baby decision'. Email me at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org and assistant Laura will respond and arrange an appointment with you. Visit http://www.ticktockcoaching.co.uk/ for more information about my coaching services.
Thursday, 29 September 2016
'It's getting to the crunch point... I'm 42 and my husband is in his early 50's. He really worries about being an older dad. He doesn't think he will have the energy. And I am aware that it's not ideal for me to be having a child now. I do feel that, although I know I will have less energy and I know that I will be the mother of a teenager when I am nearing 60, I also feel like I am very established now. I have a good career, we have secure finances. And, more importantly, I feel like I've done everything else I've wanted to do - I've been a night owl, I've travelled extensively.
When I was younger, I felt like I would be giving up too much. But now, I feel that I won't be missing out on anything if I do have children.'
When I was researching this blog post, I came across a number of very negative articles on older parents which contained a number of judgements against having children later in life. A common one is that it's not fair on children who have older parents - mainly due to the embarrassment factor of having an older parent AND due to the fact that an older parent is more likely to die earlier in their child's life. I can speak from personal experience. My partner is 20 years older than I am and he is often mistaken for my son's grandfather.
And yes, this can cause some embarrassment. My son is also more aware of his father's mortality and is likely more aware of the possibility of the death of his father than he would if his father was younger. And, I do think in many situations children have to face embarrassment and worry about their parents - no one is immune. I did find this excellent article Me and My Old Man which interviewed adult children about growing up with a father who was significantly older than parents of their peers. This is a lovely quote from the piece which very much sums up my thoughts.
'For all the fuss about older parents, age is just one risk factor when it comes to life and death. No parent can honestly promise to be there for his or her child, regardless of when they conceive. I watch my cousins and friends who have lost fathers younger than mine, and I feel guilty, and grateful, that he is still here. I think my dad does, too. But they also show me that the relationship between father and child cannot be measured in years spent together. That’s not how love works.'
There has been much less written about older mothers - a few years ago I reported on a study about older mothers in a blog post Women Feel Judged for Leaving Having Children Till Later in Life. I'm on the lookout for any other articles or research on older mothers and hope to write more on this subject soon.
Wednesday, 14 September 2016
Although I think this has always been true, it's only recently that we have begun to discuss and unpick some of the paradoxes and ambivalence that go along with parenthood. In the past, having children and becoming a parent was just something that everyone did - it wasn't thought about or mulled over. It was just something most people did.
A book has been published in August called the Gardener and the Carpenter. While it is aimed at parents I think many of the key messages in the book are relevant to people trying to make the decision. As this Guardian article by Alison Gopnik points out, it addresses that age old question - What is the point of raising a child?
'Why is taking care of children worthwhile? It’s hard work, badly paid if paid at all, and full of uncertainty, guilt and heavy lifting. And yet, at least to most of us, it seems like an absolutely fundamental, profoundly valuable project. If you asked most parents about their deepest moral commitments, and most agonising moral dilemmas, about what gives their lives meaning, they would talk about their children. But caring for a child is very different from any other human relationship, and the standard ways of thinking about morality and meaning don’t apply very well to being a parent'.
What is very interesting and relevant to those making the 'baby decision' is that implicit in some of the arguments made in favor of having children is having children is part of making the world a more caring and nurturing place. However, as Gopnik points out, people can be caring and loving towards their own children and at the same time be indifferent towards other people's children. And many people who choose not to have children are caring and nurturing in other ways. In my discussion on Women's Hour a few years ago with Christine Odone, one of my arguments was that just because people who choose not to have children, it doesn't meant that they are not living values of caring and nurturing in their lives already. Having children doesn't imbue people with a more altruistic nature - we can point to many dictators or tyrants who have had children who were still able to be callous to other people and other people's children.