Older Mothers May Make Better Mothers, Say Researchers

Amy Capetta
Janet Jackson recently welcomed a son at age 50. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)
Janet Jackson recently welcomed a son at age 50. (Photo: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)

Having a baby later in life may work to your child’s advantage.

According to research published in the European Journal of Developmental Psychology, “older” women are likely to handle the many aspects of parenting better compared with younger mothers.

By tracking the social and environmental development of children at three different stages (ages 7, 11, and 15), Danish investigators determined that the kids with mothers who were at least 30 years old had fewer behavioral, social, or emotional problems at ages 7 and 11 — but not at age 15. The study also mentions previous research, which concluded that older moms are likely to worry less during their pregnancy, are more positive about becoming parents, and have an overall more positive attitude toward their children.

Halle Berry had her daughter at age 41 and her son at age 47. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Halle Berry had her daughter at 41 and her son at 47. (Photo: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

The reason: Chalk it up to the probability of having more stable relationships, more education, and more ways of accessing material resources.

“We know that people become more mentally flexible with age, are more tolerant of other people and thrive better emotionally themselves,” said Dion Somme, a professor at the School of Business and Social Sciences at Aarhus University in Denmark and co-author of the study, in a press release. “That’s why psychological maturity may explain why older mothers do not scold and physically discipline their children as much.”

While there are health risks associated with maternal aging (for example, higher risk of experiencing a miscarriage and giving birth prematurely), it was noted that women are purposely delaying motherhood due to numerous factors, including greater education and career opportunities, increased life expectancy, and advancements in fertility treatments.

“This study is spot on, and I’m not surprised by these findings as we witness more middle-aged women having children and adopting children, like Hoda Kotb,” Sue Scheff, a parent and family Internet safety advocate and author of the upcoming book Shame Nation: The Global Epidemic of Online Hate, tells Yahoo Beauty.

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She explains that “with age comes wisdom.”

“As we mature in life, we are more balanced to hopefully give our offspring a stable home,” continues Scheff. “Many mothers are more financially secure at an older age and may also be at a point where they already had career peaks, so they can focus 100 percent — or at least more than 75 percent — on parenting, whereas younger moms don’t always have that privilege.”

Scheff adds that she was a young mom herself — “By the age of 25, I had a 3-year-old and a newborn” — and advises 20-something mothers to banish the “I can do it all” mentality.

“It’s OK to ask for help and learn wisdom from those in front of you,” she states. “Sometimes I think we want to prove that we can do this on our own — which we can — but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be able to reach out when we get stressed out.”

On the flip side, she points out the bonus of being a young 21st century mom. “They tend to be more tech-literate, so hopefully they are able to engage in teaching their kids more about online safety and security, as well as the importance of their digital reputation — which is something everyone will need for their future,” says Scheff.

And as a general rule of thumb for mothers of all ages, she strongly advises tuning out the condescending comments that could be hurled your way by “judgy moms.”

“Whether you are 22 or 52, kids still don’t come with manuals, but they will always need their mother,” concludes Scheff. “Mistakes will be made, lessons will be learned, and we all do our best as a parent with what we have.”

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