As you already know, there’s no shortage of people who want to weigh in on the decision to have a baby after 40. In addition to the statistics of increased risk factors, there are those who believe it is just plain selfish to have a child this late in life. Why do they say that? Well lets take a look at some of their reasoning and go through whether or not it actually makes sense. First though, let’s take a look at what it actually means to be selfish.
In general, people think of being selfish as actions that have 2 parts to them. The first part is doing something for yourself. The second part involves one of two things being true: either the action is also explicitly detrimental to others or the action also excludes others when they could easily be included. An example of the detrimental aspect would be stealing from someone. It leaves you better off with whatever was taken, but the person who was stolen from now has less then they originally did. The leaving others behind aspect is less obvious, but an example is if you went to get ice cream when you were with a group. If you didn’t get anyone else ice cream, it could be considered selfish since you could have gotten others something but only got something for yourself.
Now that we’ve looked at what people consider selfish, how does this get applied to having a baby after 40? It seems like people are using the “detriment to others” version where the child will be much worse off than if you had them earlier in life. Let’s take a look at the things people say and if they actually are selfish or not.
Since you are older, it stands to reason that you’ll be around for your child for less of their life than if you had them earlier in your life. So the idea here is if you aren’t maximizing the amount of time you can be around, then you’re being selfish.
So I would ask people who say this what is the optimal amount of time that a parent should be around their children? If you are around for that amount of time, is it no longer selfish? So suppose someone has a child at 30 and dies at 80, so the child had them for 50 years. Most people don’t seem to consider this to be selfish on the parents’ part. Now suppose the parent was 40 when they gave birth, but died at 91, for a total of 51 years. Was that parent selfish because they had the child later or were they not selfish because they lived longer? If a parent dies earlier, were they selfish irrespective of then they had the child?
I haven’t seen anyone say you were selfish because you died earlier, the age when you have your child seems to be the only factor. This main issue I have with this is that there are so many factors that go into having and raising a child, that it’s difficult to go along with the idea that every person how has a child at or over 40 is being selfish irrespective of how long they actually live.
Also, the circumstances are generally better in your 40s than in your 20s or even 30s as far as finances go, so there are many times less stress about money for people in their 40s than for people in their 20s or 30s. Add in ambition for getting ahead in their careers, and you can find a lot of reasons that having children when you are more established is actually better than having children when you aren’t yet established.
In addition, this reason assumes that you could have had a child earlier than when you got pregnant. So what if you aren’t in the right relationship? Should you have a child because you’re “getting up there in age” or because you have a committed partner who will help with the rearing of the child? Sometimes that “committed partner” comes later than we’d like, which is when many people decide to have kids.
Another reason for not having children over 40 is that people can mistake you for their grandparents. When people do mistake you, this can be embarrassing for your child. This reason is….interesting….the idea being since you may embarrass your child you shouldn’t have them.
Well I’m here to tell you that your child is going to be embarrassed about you. For something. Anything. Something you do will make them cringe. For older parents, just the act of being older may be the thing. But rest assured if it wasn’t that, kids would likely come up with some other reason for your child to be embarrassed.
For younger parents, they’ll be too young. For thirty-something parents, they’ll be too old. In fact, all parents will be considered too old by someone they gave birth to. Even if you’re 20 eventually jargon will change and you’ll use that term that “is from 15 years ago”.
As people get older, health issues inevitably come up which didn’t exist before. When a child sees this in their parent, they can become worried that their parent won’t be able to take care of themselves like they used to. It can even escalate to the point that the child will have to take care of the parent, which can cause additional anxiety in the child.
In one way this can be addressed to a certain extent by the parent. Although it is more likely that you will have more health issues as you get older, you can also take steps to mitigate those issues. Working out and doing more cardio are ways you can increase your healthiness. If you don’t have time to do either of those, simply walking more often and drinking more water can help you to be healthier.
One thing that people don’t seem to have thought out who give this as a reason not to have kids is when is the optimal time for a child to begin taking care of their parents. So if you have a child at 40, when the child is 30, you’ll be 70 and they may have to take care of you. If you both live longer, you may be 90 when your child is 50. Well is it better for the child to take care of the parent when they need help as well? So if you have a child at 20, is it better if you need help at 80 for your 60 year old child to take care of you? How about if you live to 90 and your 70 year old child needs to help you? Why is this the desired case?
The point here is to look at some of the things which people say are selfish and realize that, while it may not be the “optimal conceiving time” there are plenty of reasons to have a child over forty and those reasons are not by definition selfish.
You see there are way too many people who have way too many opinions on how you should live your life. Although some of these opinions can come from a sincere place, the thought of someone saying it is selfish to have a child after 40 simply because of your age doesn’t take into account the myriad of reasons that this happened. Nor does it consider all of the advantages you likely have that weren’t present when you were younger.