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Putting Off Pregnancy

What a generation of older parents means for family life and American society.

The number of older parents is on the rise. (ethan.john/Flickr)

The number of older parents is on the rise. (ethan.john/Flickr)

American parents are having kids old and older.  Look around.  Are those two that child’s parents?  Or its grandparents?  It is very often hard to know these days.  In many ways, this has been liberating.  Twenty-somethings with a child-free, diaper-free decade of youth.  People with time and space to start careers.

But there is a price, and it’s becoming clearer.  Older parents juggling kid’s soccer and their own aches and pains.  Kids who won’t know their grandparents.  Parents who won’t know their grandkids.  And a baby bust.

This hour, On Point:  what a generation of older parents means.

-Tom Ashbrook


Judith Shulevitz, science editor at the New Republic, her big cover story on older parents is here.

Elizabeth Gregory, directs the Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies Program at the University of Houston and teaches in the English Department. She’s the author of Ready: Why Women Are Embracing the New Later Motherhood.

Nona Willis Aronowitz, journalist and author, her recent op-ed in the Washington Post is here.

From Tom’s Reading List

The New Republic “Fathers have been getting older at the same rate as mothers. First-time fathers have been about three years older than first-time mothers for several decades, and they still are. The average American man is between 27 and 28 when he becomes a father. Meanwhile, as the U.S. birth rate slumps due to the recession, only men and women over 40 have kept having more babies than they did in the past.”

Washington Post “When my 79-year-old father had two back surgeries a couple of years ago, I saw him in a hospital gown for the first time. As his closest family member — my mother died of cancer in 2006 — I gave my dad rides to the doctor and the grocery store. I helped him clean out his house and move into a smaller, stairless apartment. I watched him struggle at physical therapy. He has fully recovered, but the process aged him. Now I move a little slower when we walk down the street together. When he runs 20 minutes late, my imagination runs wild: Has he fallen or gotten into a car accident? Has he forgotten about our appointment?”

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  • Shag_Wevera

    Thought I was pretty smart, waiting for the right wife, the right job, and owning a home.  We had our first when I was 37, and just had our third (likely last) at 42.

    I lost the right job just before the first was born, so there goes that.  I work for half as much now, and am unlikely to have anything to leave them or be able to help with higher education.  So much for that.

    Crawling and wrestling on the floor is getting harder at 42, and I can’t wait to see what it is like at 60.  There is a trade off between having some wisdom and experience, and having the vitality of youth when it comes to raising children.

    The moral to all this?  There is no perfect time, and no amount of preparation promises an easy ride.  By the way, I wouldn’t recommend it without a good spouse.

  • http://profiles.google.com/elizabeth.sweetman Elizabeth Sweetman

    I have considered this topic because I had my first son at age 22 and my second at age 34 (probably still considered young). I had much more energy at 22, less money but also had less worries. It was physically more draining to have a baby in my 30′s and having a stable career was actually a demanding burden during my youngest son’s infancy. I don’t think there’s any “perfect time” answer but I do think having children as younger adults allows you to reclaim your life in middle age.

    • anon

      Don’t mean to offend you, but I find that a strange attitude… ‘reclaim your life’? As if the children took it away, and now you can get rid of them and get your life back?

  • Janet Rathbun

    My husband and I had our first child at 32, our second at 36, and our last child when were were just under 44.  We are now 64 and she is 20.  When I was pregnant at 43, what seemed daunting to me was having a kindergartener at 49, but that proved not to be a problem–I think she helped keep us young.  We were calmer and more patient as she was growing up than we had been with our older children, but we also had less energy.  I think one thing that I had not anticipated is that, in addition to having older parents, she has been exposed to all the difficult end-of-life issues of her grandparents, as well as my preoccupation with caring for them as they grow older and die.  Overall though, I would say that there have been way more positives than negatives about having a child late in life, and I hope our daughter would agree!

  • Emily Antul

    I put off childbearing because I was waiting for job stability. I’ll be having our first child about the week after our 12th anniversary. I’ll be 35, my husband 36. I have no job and am in the middle of switching careers. 

    With a better economy and actual gender equality and family-friendly business (we have neither), I think more people would have kids earlier, but there are massive pressures to stay and establish yourself in a career and you get criticized for going out on our pathetically short 6-8 week maternity leaves within the first couple of years of a job. Our society is broken on a lot of levels. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5XXB5H33NL7L6BG2TKRKY6NWGY Nancy

     And I put off having children waiting for the right man, right job, enough money and stability – unfortunately, my time has run out just as all other things fell into place.  While I can still adopt, this is a tough decision, one I can never reverse.

  • BOBinRSI

    I am 53 and my wife 41. We had our first child, a son, last month. Having a child is such a joy but I never imagined it would be so much work and I am sure it will be a little tough to toss a football around with him in a few years. However, I am glad I waited. I was able a lot of fun in my 20′s, 30′s and 40′s plus I am financially stable now, own a home and will be able to spend some serious time with him when we both get a little older. Plus when I stop changing his diapers he can start changing mine.

    • http://wh.gov/IVp4 Yar

      When a parent helps a child both laugh, when a child helps a parent both cry.
      I picked up the toddler of a friend at a public gathering and put him on my shoulders so he could see the lighting of a Christmas tree, the father commented on how it would put him in pain for a week to carry his son like that.  I said I put my kids on my shoulders up to age 6.  He quickly did the math and said he would be 52 years old when his son turned 6.  I am thankful I had my children when I was young.  Older parents often mean single children, and that in itself changes family and society dynamics.

  • J__o__h__n

    On Point, please stop the annoying pop-ups.  They are bothersome and do not inform me of anything useful.  Your homepage is sufficient for identifying other shows.  This is one of the worst ideas WBUR has ever had. 

    The pop-up for this one is “Jobs for the Autistic.”  What is the relation to this topic?  Why would someone interested in this topic have an interest in that? 

    Have these pop-ups increased any web traffic?  I doubt it.  I haven’t been on the site in a week and will not be on it again this week. 

    • Pointpanic

      J O H N , “ON POint” is taking its cues from TNT and FOX with their annoying pop ups. Unfrotunately ,given yesterday’s public realtions piece for the ad industry,that’s not all ,it’s taking from FOX and TNT.

    • DrewInGeorgia

      And switch to the less volatile version of Disqus that NPR is currently running.

  • ToyYoda

    Having kids late?  Sure there’s drawbacks, but I think there’s also alot of positives.  Most people I know who’ve had kids in their 20′s and 30′s are just too immature to have them.  When you’re older, you’re wiser, and less selfish, more patient, more compassionate, and able to have a reflective perspective on life.  You have more money, life is more stable.  

    These are wonderful attributes any role model should have for their kids, and it’s a plus that those attributes can be found in parents, because they have matured.

  • adks12020

    I’m 31 and dating a 27 year old woman (3.5 years).  We’ve talked about marriage and children however we plan to wait.  We both put off graduate school due to financial concerns (taking on more debt before reducing or eliminating previous debt).  I just finished and she has just finished her first semester. We will not be having any children until she is done.  Working full time, going to graduate school, and having a child is just not feasible. 

    I think a lot of people are in similar situations.  A lot of people want to be financially secure before having children and that seems to be taking longer than it used to for many to get there. Sometimes it’s because people need an extra degree to get a promotion (like myself and my girlfriend) and sometimes people just need to work longer in their fields to get there. Either way, I think a lot of this pattern is money driven.

  • pnella33

    No, not “everyone wants to have babies…” Some of us have no desire whatsoever to add to the over-population of our world. Consider it my contribution to “save the planet.”

  • Scott B

    My parents adopted me when my dad was 40, mom 33, and the only issue I had was my classmates would say they say me out with my grandparents. I didn’t see any issues they had at the time.

    When my wife and I hit early 40′s/late 30′s we decided to have a child, and we discovered the same sandwich generation issues as my folks must have had with the family generation on both side being in diapers. 

  • Don_HH

    I’m 53, my kids are 8 and 5.  Energy is no problem.  I pretty much run circles around most of the younger parents.  I’m sure that I am way more focused and patient with my parenting than when I was 25. I do find it annoying when well meaning people ask the kids if they’re having fun with grandpa. 

  • ToyYoda

    I’m 40 now.  And at my rate, I won’t have kids, and won’t get married.  I don’t consider myself mature enough to have kids anyways.  But, as I get older, I am wising up to the fact that rearing children is hard work and an immense financial burden.  There is no rational reason to have them.  And so the older I get, the more I wish NOT to have kids. 

    Since I don’t think I’m unique in anyway, I suspect a lot of other old guys are shifting their preference.

  • AaronNM

    We had our daughter this year. My wife is 40 and I’m 43. We had no need for fertility treatments. There are physical limitations which we have – certainly getting up and down off the floor is harder than it used to be. But as we’re raising this beautiful girl those limitations make us keenly aware of how precious (and brief) life is, so we are driven to make our daughter’s life as interesting and rich as possible.

  • siskoe

    My husband and I were told we could never have children, suprise, 40 year old Mother, 47 year old Daddy…fast forward 19 years…the best thing that ever happened to us…she was fornutate to know all of her grandparents and knows so much about aging and has been invloved in the death of all of her grantparents from age 6 to 18..hard yes but she is the most empthatic and understanding person I know…my only “regret” is she is an only child with no cousins, no extended family and will be left with no one..no connections..

  • ToyYoda

    If we are having kids later in life, and women lose fertility at age 35-40, then this sets up a curious social phenomena; a higher rate of much older men dating much younger women, which has been somewhat of a social taboo.  

    • PJ2012

      I had my son two weeks before my 38th birthday. My husband is 8 years younger than me.:)

  • Scott B

    My wife and I both had older parent, and are now older parents ourselves.  I grew up only knowing my grandmas, as my grandpa came from an age where men died at 50 and that’s what they did.  Our daughter’s cousins are all much older than she is, in their teens, so she doesn’t have the close cousin’s we did, but they do spoil her rotten. 

    The hard part was, as the guest said, is we didn’t have any grandparent that was able to help us with our child, as others in our families did, and it has limited us in many ways. We don’t have a grandma to take her to when we want date night or there’s been an emergency.

  • http://wh.gov/IVp4 Yar

    You are talking about two different America’s, where I live half of the children today are being raised by grandparents or other than their parents. CNN just did an article on drug abuse and orphan children. This could use an hour as well.

  • MelVT

    I didn’t delay having babies.  I delayed getting married.  If I’d married my college boyfriend, I would have been an unhappy, divorced single mother at 23.  If I’d married the next boyfriend, I’d have been an unhappy, divorced single mother at 28.  I waited and am, at 50, a happy, married mother of three.

    • donniethebrasco

       good luck making it to your children’s high school graduation.

      buy some life insurance

      • MelVT

        Thanks for your concern.  How many marathons did you run last year?

        • JAIBEEZ

          Good for you, but he does have a point. Besides, running marathons doesn’t preclude you from disease or illness.

          • MelVT

            My oldest is graduating in 2 years.  Are you really suggesting I won’t make it to 52?  On what basis?

          • YoungMomForever

             there will always be those who feel a need to belittle and or berate you for your personal choices … just smile and know the truth, that making it to a graduation has little to do with the parent’s date of birth

  • fakeDIY

    I’m the child of older parents (35 and 52) when I was born. When I was younger I was always bothered by people mistaking my dad for my grandfather (a man I didn’t even get the opportunity to meet) and the lack of energy my parents sometimes faced. Now that I’m 22 I’m more upset by the idea of facing my parents’ mortality; it feels like something that I should not be thinking about at my age and I’m not sure if I’m prepared to face it. I love my parents but sometimes I do wish I’d been born a bit earlier.

  • Petrakatrina

    I had my children when I was 32 and 33, just like my mother. I wish I had them much earlier! As soon as I had my daughter was born, I felt like my 20′s were an unfocused waste of time. The time I spent in my childless in my 20′s would be much more productive after my children became adults.
    I hope my daughter has children much earlier and I would be more than willing to help and support her family. Unfortunately I think it’s the men that are not willing to start families.

  • Bradtx

    Immigrants have more children due to the under-education of many immigrants in their home country. As Americans we have empowered women so much that they are waiting until their career path has taken off. We need to open up immigration to increase our population if we are to take care of our older generation.

    • anon

      When you talk about empowered women and career paths, you’re talking about an elite class of women, not the average American woman.

  • Dave Holzman

    Rising productivity will support the older generation with fewer working age people.

    While the problems Shulevitz describes are real, the environment, and the need for reduced population, both in the US and in the world, trumps all. Climate change will reduce earth’s carrying capacity (it’s projected to dry much of the US out by 2050). Two years ago ,at the annual meeting of the American Association for the ADvancement of Science, I heard a researcher describe how the world ***could*** feed a population of 10 million in 2050. He didn’t say we WOULD feed that many, but that we could. During Q&A, I asked him what climate change would do to his projections. It was as if a black cloud was suddenly hovering over his head. His face went dark, and he just sort of shrugged his shoulders and said, “I do’nt know.” 

  • Scott B

    We didn’t think we wanted a kid until the wife changed her mind at 38.  But we’ve limited ourselves to one child, as the risks of birth defects of all kinds were just too to great with all the evidence of what happen when the parents are older. On the other hand, we can adopt (and hope to someday) – But this time the new arrival can walk, talk, and is potty trained.

  • http://www.facebook.com/davebates82 Dave Bates

    My parents were in their late 30′s when they had me. I only knew one of my grandparents who passed away when I was in 8th grade. The downsides to these circumstances are that my parents and I were far enough removed in age that I found our interests were very different and had problems finding things to relate with one another. Another is that I have been left with very little knowledge of our family history as a result of not having a relationship with my grandparents. 
    I have made an effort to learn about our lineage and it has been fantastic! And I can only laugh these days at the fact that I am now listening to early 30′s jazz as my Dad always has. It’s different than other people’s family situations, but we are as strong as ever. 

  • PJ2012

    I had my son two weeks before my 38th birthday. I’m glad I waited. I am able to be home with him full time and not think I am missing out on life. My level of maturity and patience is much greater and he has the life my husband and I never had.

  • donniethebrasco

    This is why I became a tenured college professor.  I only have to work 2 days a week, 7 months a year, and I make $150,000 per year.

    It is a great career and a great life.  I recommend everyone become a professor.

    It helps being a woman who can claim Native American ancestry.  My parents told me my great-great grandmother was Cherokee.

  • IsaacWalton

    I’m 39 and my wife is 30. We have both been putting off having kids and might adopt in the next 10 years. Frankly, we both enjoy not having kids. There are 11 offspring from our sibs, in my opinion that’s plenty of grandkids.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sarahelliscollins Sarah Collins

     I am 25 years old and my mother was 38 1/2 when I was born. I think it made our relationship very different than many of my friends and their parents. My parents are some of my best friends, we get along so well. Even if I wait a few more years (which I’m sure I will because I still have school debt to pay off before I think about having children) my mother will be 70, but 70 isn’t the same as it was several decades ago.

  • Yooperwoman2

    My great-grandfather was born in 1870 to a 45 year-old mother and a fifty-something father.  In the photo I have of the two, he has a sparkle in his eye and she looks worn out.  My ggf’s memories of his mother were mainly that she was always grouchy.  I think I can understand why.

  • BHA_in_Vermont

    I don’t advocate having children early. You don’t know who you are at 20 and are probably not particularly financially stable. But post 40? Pushing it for many people. Post 50? Sorry, your time has passed. 

    There is no guarantee that any individual won’t get hit by a bus at any age, but do you want to be 65 and looking at how your 10 to 15 year old will go to college since you’ll be retired (or for some, dead) by the time they are 18?

  • katherine rooks

    It’s not just the grandparent connection that suffers. My  husband and I had children relatively early (27&29), but our siblings—both of whom are close in age to us—are just now having children. Our 16 and 13 year old sons have cousins that range from newborn to seven years old. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/erinstjohnkelly Erin Kelly

      Hmm…I’m suprised you guys didn’t get the tubes tied

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000373076100 Heather Cronin O’Donnell

    I am a mother of five wonderful children, two of whom I had in my 20′s and the last three in my 40′s and having experienced parenting at both points in my life, I can say that there are benefits and challenges to each and thankfully, it went well for us. If I were forced to choose, however, I would say that the experience was better for me on the later end. I realize that we will face some of the issues discussed on your program but overall, we have a very loving and rich family life which will not be affected adversely by our age. Also, I feel that our younger children have helped us to remain active and youthful, flexible and engaged.

    • YoungMomForever

       Before menopause I was the walking proof that no birth control is 100% effective. I had at least one pregnancy in each of THREE decades … 7 (5 survived to be born) … while on highly effective birth control. Now 64 my youngest was born when I was 42 and we are very, very close. She’s established on her own and is a joy to me. Her friends think of me as their 2nd Mom.

      It’s not the age of the Mom and Dad’s bodies that makes the difference; it’s the age of their hearts.

      BTW I was the youngest in my family and was born to “older” parents who all my friends thought were great.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1706004716 Patricia Freed-Thall

    This is reminding me that my great grandmother had her last child in her forties as my grandmother was having my mother. I think this happened frequently with large families.

  • BHA_in_Vermont

    Um, 30 isn’t “older”. Where does “older” start in this discussion?

  • http://twitter.com/bryanatmidd Bryan

    I was 36 and my wife 39 when we had our son.  Then, we were definitely affected by declining fertility and had a smaller family than we wanted.  We made the financially responsible choice.  Are families yet another luxury the middle class cannot afford?

    • IsaacWalton

      I’m glad you made the financially responsible choice. It’s what keeps us from having kids now or maybe ever. I see to many people having kids putting themselves all at  financial peril because they have too many and not the income to support them OR working so much to support them that they degrade the family life/experience. 

      • JAIBEEZ

        I can tell you that you are never “ready” and being a parent has a funny way of bringing out your best (not to say you are some kind of slacker), but having your first child is not going to break you, really, it won’t. If you’re not married, make an honest woman out of your love and do it, you’ll get tax benefits and you’ll find you get by okay.
        Love is the most important thing for a child; a 1 bedroom apt is enough to keep a roof over their head while you advance your career.

  • PMT-Survey Proc

    I thought, with new healthy lifestyles, the new 60 was 50-55???

  • IsaacWalton

    What hurts more? Not having kids or having kids that you’re too busy to raise because you have to work too much to support your lifestyle and your kids? I see too many YOUNG “professionals” dumping their kids at day care (both parents work)…not a good way to raise kids. I see some families with 1 parent not working so to raise the kid and having no money to do anything…not good. 

  • ThisDudeAbides

    My mother was 42 when I was born (and her mother was 42 when she was born). I never knew my grandmother, as she had been dead for 30 years at the time of my birth. For that matter, I never really got to know any of my grandparents. As a result, I as a 27 year old am seriously thinking of having children sooner than I otherwise would, so that my kids will have the grandparent relationship with my 70+ year old mother that I never had.

    However, having older parents benefitted me immensely. I had a wonderfully stable and warm childhood (I see less of that with my 5 older brothers and sisters, who in their own lives had “younger” parents than I did). Also, the guest says that older parents lead to different “brain architecture.” My mother and I both have synesthesia (created by unusual pathways in the brain) — could this be related to us both being the product of older (40 and up) parents?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/QCAPOSN7X4YQROWLO5GLZMXOMY Ann

    The trend to have children later coupled with the fact that young people are having a harder time starting their own lives due to high student debt, high cost of living vs. starting salaries, and the economy, is going to hurt our society. Our older populations need their children’s support as they age, especially with the instability of social security and medicare. But older parents get to that point before their children are able to give them that support. My parents are older, and it looks like I will still be living with roommates by the time they might need me to take them in. The support system breaks down and will put pressure on public support.

  • shininguni

    I’m in my early thirties, and I’ve opted not to have children because I don’t feel it’s necessary for my own emotional fulfillment, and I believe that if fewer people have children, we’ll be able to devote more resources to making sure those that are born have the best opportunities. I’m not worried about this “demographic crisis.”  There are plenty of us around to take care of each other if we decide that that is our priority.

  • bluemoonne

    I am the 55 year old mother of a blended family of six. Pregnant when I graduated high school I had my first child at nineteen and my last at 39. I think both sides have merits and both hardships. I’ve had health problems including a stroke in 2007 and these health issues have made it hard for myself and my seventeen year old who with graduate high school June of 2013. I also have my 37 year old who is a single mom, living with me along with my grandson William who is 20 months. I also have a child with a mentl illness and aspergers-like diagnosis. She is 27 and helping her manage her life is tough work. Mostly I long to be alone because I’m a writer and I’m tired. So I guess what is true is you can never predict what’s coming!
    I am blessed,

  • Mary_Ann54

    Wait a minute!  I am the eldest daughter (of 2) of parents who had their first child at 38.  I am now 58, my sister is 54 and my father is 95 1/2.  My mother died at 90.  Having children later, in my view, kept them healthier and younger.  Their friends tended to be couples with children our age or younger (so about 10 or 15 years younger than themselves).  No one ever thought they looked their ages, and they were very active into their late 80s. Yes, sometimes my father was mistaken for my grandfather–which he explained to me as a result of the early white hair in his family. My mother was a teacher, my father managed a small factory; My father taught us to downhill ski and they attended all sorts of sports games throughout my sister and my high school years. Yes, there were generational conflicts, but in the long run, I would not have traded my parents for anyone else’s. Mary Ann

  • http://www.facebook.com/blabombard1 Betty LaBombard

    I had my daughter at age 37. It was a most joyful occasion and her younger years were the happiest of my life. Then came her teenage years right in sync with my menopause! Picture it-two women with opposing views with raging hormones under the same roof! My advice-DON’T GO THERE!  

  • homebuilding

    Older parents are less physically active and less physically capable.  We suffer many social/physical maladies from reduced walking, bicycling, tree-climbing, baseball, soccer, hiking, outdoor photography and simply the reduced ability to visit museums, etc.

    While obesity is one very significant problem, the general ‘wussification’ and the drive for absolute elimination of all danger means that kids of older parents have far less opportunity to judge and learn many essential aspects of their own safety, judgment, skill development, knowledge, and competency.

    Note that I’m not talking about you or me–just those other oldsters. 

    I have many more years to enjoy my grandchildren (I believe), and have no regrets about having all my kids before I was 30.

    And can we stop about the drudgery of diapers?  What wusses !
    I did cloth diapers, thank you–household tasks (children or not) has NEVER been easier.

    There surely seems to be an underlying tone of selfishness, here,  or is it an over-riding desire to avoid any real ‘work of life.’

    • elisabeth wilkins

      Still doing cloth diapers here.  It’s not that big of a deal and MUCH easier than when my grandmother did them.

      At 43 I can assure you that I am much more healthy than the younger parents I see with kids my age…overweight couch potatoes..so please do not paint all “older” parents with the ame brush.  My husband and I actually play with our young children at the park and playground, while the 20-somethings are too busy texting to play with their kids.

      • homebuilding

        @google-8a9885cb836ff14b3a9dce4d4b4cdb6c:disqus …read me again.  I specifically was exempting myself and you.  I’m talking about all those debilitated OTHER oldsters.

        You raise a very important point on texting and head down electro device worship. 
        It’s truly a phenomena of younger parents and I erred in not pointing out this problem preoccupation.

        It’s absolutely tragic to see a parent in a grocery store (texting) while a young one or two stare off into space (with no parental direction or instruction).

        A typical grocery has over 10,000 objects that a parent can name and explain to the young–and this essential task of parenting has been rather dramatically reduced)

        Repeat after me:  “cheese, peas, corn, lettuce, carrots, butter, flour  (find the coffee)” 

  • AnnPT

    I was born (in 1955) when my mother was 43 and my father was 38, their first and only child. Ours was a working-class, not wealthy, family.
    For me, this was nothing but a positive experience. My parents were mature, knew who they were and what they wanted from life. My friends’ younger parents seemed, by contrast, somehow not fully formed – less stable, calm, confident. My home was emotionally rich, and very nurturing. I even got social security dependent benefits (on my mother’s account) to help with college expenses!
    Speaking only personally, not culturally, there was no downside. Both my parents lived well into my adulthood: My mother was 81, my father 87.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/RAYW54T6BMRFQIKHBYOOZHF5KM Melissa

    Have there been any studies on the long term effects of birth control use on fertility?

  • JennaJennaeight

    I wonder if the advantages of being an older new parent could be matched with the extreme disadvantage of children in the foster care system?  Rather than putting energy and funds into conceiving and raising a biological child that may suffer the various physical, neurological, social costs your guest describes, why not have more policies and support in place to encourage older parents to take on foster children who already suffer challenges that need mature, stable parenting? A bonus: you could adopt or foster a child that is older and ages appropriately with you.

  • donniethebrasco

    They are just trying to keep out the competition for their jobs.

  • curtcpeterson

    Judith Shulevitz is overlooking two very important facts: One is that my generation, born in the WWII era suffered the same age disparity – my mother was 44 when I was born, my father 39, and many of my contemporaries had parents of similar ages to mine. At the time, our parents’ life expectancy was considerably less; my parents expected to die any day following their 65th birthdays, although both lived well into their eighties. My grandparents were also older parents, and two of them died before I was born. This is not a new situation over history.
    The second problem I have with Ms. Shulevitz’s urging for people to have more children is that the planet, relative to its resources, is already over-populated. While the “me” generation may want immortality via a larger family, their wish may come at great expense to everyone else.

    • kirkorian

      She is not urging people to have more children.  She is saying that if you planning on having children, you might want to think about starting before you are in your late 30s.

  • donniethebrasco

    The baby boomers are still taking.

  • spm033085

    Regarding the SI and fine motor issues that are supposedly seen with children of older parents, you must consider the affects of the “back to sleep” program parents are following with their children.  Many children no longer spend much time on their bellies, tummy time, during their waking hours.  Tummy time promotes strengthening up the upper extremities, shoulders, and trunk.  The effects of children not spending play time on their tummies is becoming apparent in schools when children are asked to write and maintain an upright posture for learning. Tummy time also places the head in a downward position which may affect sensory development. This should be part of your conversation.

  • http://wh.gov/IVp4 Yar

    Use your nephews?  Your guest is starting to sound like a hive of bees; men are only good for reproduction?  Just don’t throw us out in the fall.  As a middle aged man this is a little scary.

    The demographic cliff is much more real than the fiscal one.

  • Ben Cornforth

    In regards to grandparents – with the advent of video blogs and many life events being recorded for later use; can these serve as a minor substitution in allowing grandchildren to know their elders?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=502416563 Elizabeth Hansen

    I had my first child at 27, second at 29, and third at 32. My kids are all five and under. Our first child was a surprise, and I am so happy that we (accidentally) got an early start–they bring so much joy to our lives, their grandparents are still in good health, we have the energy to make it through this early intense time, and there is a good chance we will get to meet and enjoy our grandkids. If we hadn’t started our family when we were young, I think we would have waited. That said, I am experiencing the flip side of the reasons women wait to have children: I am finding it very hard to launch my academic career at the same time as raising three young kids. My husband’s career was already established when we had our first child and he has been flourishing since then. By contrast, I was just starting graduate school and have had to juggle building a career with building a family. This has driven a wedge between my career and his–where his keeps ramping up and I’m struggling to keep mine afloat, some days feeling like I should give up and stay home. I look at my female colleagues who are waiting to have kids and often feel some jealously that they have had the time to devote to this early, formative career stage. I do think eventually I will catch up, but it’s not cost free. So I think both paths (early parenthood and late parenthood–or maybe early motherhood and late motherhood!) have risks and rewards. The sad thing is that many of our workplaces are still largely modeled on a worker who has unlimited amounts of time to devote to work. That doesn’t fit very many people any more.

    • jen l

      I want to echo these comments about academic careers and parenthood.  I’m a single mother by choice of twin toddlers and I have no partner whose income to rely on–I started building my career but interrupted it when I was diagnosed with infertility, became single, and I didn’t want to miss out on the experience of parenthood. (Why should anyone have to just because he or she isn’t partnered?)  The trade-off has been significant financial struggle, esp with one kid with special needs (she gets therapy 3x a week for her cerebral palsy), and no family nearby due to the difficulty of finding a job near family.  We’re 1300 miles from them.

  • DeJay79

    how about better use of technology to help solve this problem. With better and more connections thru technology could new parents not be home with the kids and be in-touch with work at the same time. Especial if both parents were home for the leave.

  • BHA_in_Vermont

    **** On Point Producers *****
    **** On Point Producers *****
    **** On Point Producers *****

    This is on your contact page:

    Because of the volume of communications we receive, the best way to
    ensure that we see messages about show content or programming is to post
    them at the bottom of the day’s show at our Web site, in the listener
    comment thread. We welcome suggestions, criticisms, or thoughts on
    further shows. Tom and the staff read those messages every day.

    If you READ them, I guess you don’t LISTEN to what people are saying.

    This is a CRITICISM. People post something similar every day and every one gets lot of “likes”.


    **** GET RID OF THE POPUPS! ****

    **** GET RID OF THE POPUPS! ****
    **** GET RID OF THE POPUPS! ****

    They are annoying.
    They are unnecessary.
    They are NOT beneficial to your listeners who
    follow the show on the web.

    They are driving people away.

    **** On Point Producers *****
    **** On Point Producers *****
    **** On Point Producers *****

    • DrewInGeorgia

      And switch to the less volatile version of Disqus that NPR is currently running. I can dream can’t I?

      • Scott B

        It would be nice to see Disqus not lose track of all the replies to my post, as soon as I check even one it resets to zero. It’s not on my end, as it’s repeatable across two computers and 4 different browsers on each.

        • DrewInGeorgia

          The version NPR is running also seems to eliminate the comment butchery that happens when the reply count gets high.





  • MarkVII88

    My wife comes from a large family. She’s the oldest daughter of the oldest sibling who has 4 younger sisters.  We got married at 23 and started having kids at 25.  We were 30 by the time we had our third and final child.  You could definitely say we were having children fairly early (comparatively).  At the same time we were having kids, some of my wife’s aunts were also having kids, a bit later in life.  I think this really helped forge a stronger bond between the different generations of our family and really transformed my wife and I more into aunts and uncles than cousins to many of the little kids our family is now blessed with.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1180121869 Eileen Shine

    I am child of older parents – my father was 40, my mother 32 when I was born and they had 2 more after me. I never knew any of my grandparents, but I don’t see that fact as a major issue in my life. 

    I became a mother 3 years ago at the age of 43. Our daughter was a surprise, conceived without any medical intervention and she’s the best thing that’s happened to us. She’s healthy and happy, and she knows 3 out of 4 birth grandparents (though none live close enough to offer much in direct support at this point.) My parents are getting older now, but they are still very much around and they are in love with their newest granddaughter. This focus on the down sides of older parenting seem quite trivial to me, especially compared to the up sides. The older parents I know are far more mature, more rational and more stable both mentally and financially than the young moms I know. I resent this report that would cause someone to suspect me of doing something wrong. My little girl is a joy to me, every day. Every hour. 

  • NPRJunkie

    I had my first at 30 and just had my second at 36.  I waited because we couldn’t afford to have them sooner.   We kept waiting for the second until we were current on all bills, had a safety net built up, had a secure job, etc.  I finally said I can’t wait any longer.  I thought I’d be (or at least feel) too old to start over.  Luckily, just before I gave birth, we both have secure stable jobs, but we’re still getting caught up on bills, hope to be able to start saving soon, etc.  I don’t know if it’s courageous or stupid, but I felt if we kept waiting until we were secure, in this economic environment, I’d never have any children. 

  • AllegraF

    I believe that Ms. Gregory’s statement that women are living longer “because” they have children later is misleading.  My guess is that the women who have children later are generally in a higher socioeconomic class that is, once again generally, better educated – and that THAT is what is leading them to live longer.  There is a gross disparity in life expectancy based on socioeconomic disparities (one study, for example:  http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/content/35/4/969.full) that could explain a difference in life expectancy between mothers who have children earlier vs. later.

  • Sarah Nelson

    I’m a 28 year-old medical student, my husband is 31. We’re both really excited to have children in the future, but we’re not planning on having children for the next 5 years at least, until I finish all of my training. While I’m very aware of the risks of waiting to have kids until the mid-30s, I’m also aware that especially among professionals with stressful jobs that require many sleepless nights, the risks of complications during pregnancy are also markedly higher. I don’t feel comfortable putting my children at risk of premature birth and all of the health and developmental problems that can come with that. I agree that parental leave and childcare are important for enabling working parents to have children earlier, but it will take much more fundamental reform to change the risks for professionals like me. I’m pessimistic that this will change will come any time soon, if at all.


    I think it’s pretty selfish to have kids in your 40′s and beyond. What about the child? There’s a good chance you won’t be around during their adulthood, and you’ll be putting a burden on them to deal with end-of-life type situation when they are young and probably not financially or emotionally ready for it. Not to mention the higher probability of birth problems, etc.
    The caller who complained she can’t leave the kids with her parents to go away for the weekend…too bad!
    Of course, every situation is different, but in general, it seems the mentality of I need to focus on my career, or I want to have fun first, well, you’re not taking the child’s plight into consideration. But I wish you all the very best!

    • elisabeth wilkins

      In case you haven’t noticed, most Americans do not die at age 60…so having kids at 40 gives the kids at least 40 years with their parents.  If not 50 or 60 years.

      • JAIBEEZ

        Well, let’s hope we all make it to at least the median age of death.
        45 yr old has a child, so at 75, that kid is just maturing enough to have an adult relationship with their parent, and possibly have to spend time and resources on helping their parents into a nursing home, or into theirs, so where is their chance to develop a family and become financially stable?

  • Tim

    How does the trend break down in terms of demographics and socioeconomic groups? For instance, are there racial and ethnic differences? In other words, how do the guests think different groups of Americans are going to be affected by these changes? 

  • myates65

    I had my only child at age 43, without fertility, my dom partner was 51.  We don’t have grandparents in our area to help with child-care, but we have excelled with our (elderly) friends more than willing to babysit.  Our child does not lack older people in her life.  I work part-time, my partner works nearly full-time, we have enough energy for our child.  We are in the active outdoor service biz.  I have done lots (travel) in my life, and feel I can be fully “there” for child-rearing.

  • http://twitter.com/DonnaFosberry DonnaFosberry

    I disagree that more work environments can change to make it easier for people to have children earlier.   We waited until our late 30s.   It took TIME to get our careers to where they are, so we are financial secure, and have the flexibility that we need in order to be there for our kids.   My husband coaches our kids soccer, I work but can volunteer at my kids school because I have proven my worth to my company.

  • Petrakatrina

    One of the guests characterized the traditional model as:” one person stays home and the other kills themselves working long hours for decades” but what is it like now? Both parents kill themselves working long hours for decades and the care of the family is valued at the prevailing rate of childcare.
    It would be terrific if there were jobs that allowed for a full private life, but that doesn’t seem like the direction that we are moving into.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1631791436 Suz Carter

    I am kind of with the last speaker (who went into science, at 11:50 est).  My parents were 39 when they had me, I’m over 40 now.  I experienced both positive and negative results from my parents having me when they were older:  The family was way better off than they were when my brothers were young, but I experienced my father’s heart issues and arthritis.  Would I change things? No.

  • asd86

    I’m 26 and was born when my father was 55. He retired when I was born and growing up I had a Mr. Mom which was great, but now he’s 82 and I’ve stayed close to home after college because of that.  I’m happy with my life, but if I have my own children, i don’t want to be as old as he was.  

  • jen l

    “investing in women’s education and then having them drop out”–that’s totally right.  I see a lot of peers, women, leaving their professions because it makes more financial sense to stay home.  Then their kids don’t have the role model of a working mother.  And then there are single parents, like me, who can’t afford to stay home and who may not have family nearby.  Creating a community for these kids, working full-time in a profession I’m passionate about, having a meaningful home life–it’s hard to achieve all these goals. 

  • neuroscientist1

    I’m at scientist at 35 with no kids but want them.  I lost my father at age 50 when I was 19, so I am of the opinion there are no guarantees in life.  Live your life the best way you see fit for yourself without lamenting the things we have lost.    

  • carl_christian

    Interesting and relevant as all this discussion has been, I can’t help but yet again return to the idea that only a small upper class — or upper class hopefuls — are affected by this. I wish that the same smart people who ponder these issues would think a great deal more about the underlying class disparities in America. We’re anti-family in large part because we are a culture almost solely devoted to making and accumulating money — and we have no concept of when we have enough so we always want more. When the premise that each year of no children can cost a woman 12% in lost salary increases is left on the table without someone pointing out that this is an entirely upper class problem, I despair for our future. We each need to think and care for the whole society instead of selfishly concentrating on ourselves well-nigh exclusively.

  • elisabeth wilkins

    Had my first at 38, second at 41.  This makes you a “geriatric pregnancy” in your medical file…yikes.  My gyn and midwife were kind enough to point out that pregnancy at this age is not that unusual…in the past, women who had more than 2-3 children were having their LAST kids at or around 40. 

    I have MUCH MUCH more patience and life experience than parents in their twenties.  We have just as much fun at the park playing with our kids as anyone of any other age.  I see that the “older” parents are much more supportive in volunteering at their kids’ school, more involved in the community, etc.

    I cannot even imagine having had kids in my twenties…I was having way too much fun as a poor environmental educator trying to stretch my meager salary to survive living in NYC.  And there was no way I would have had the patience or selflessness to raise happy children.

    Met my husband at age 32, and then we waited 5 years while we had fun together exploring our joint interests (wine, hiking, etc)
    We had no “assistance” with our fertility, BUT we would not have been heartbroken if we had not had children.

    • Amelia Darrouzet-Nardi

      I think it’s great that everything worked out for you and your family at the age you felt was best for you. 

      But, I think your comment is extremely judgmental  and assumes that all 20-somethings were as unprepared and impatient as you were at that age. Everyone is different, it’s a personal decision. 

      • elisabeth wilkins

        You are right, everyone is different.  Maybe I just don’t see the patient 20-something parents for some reason.  Perhaps they are working instead of volunteering at school on event days.  The twenty-somethings who DON’T text while their kids play probably just don’t go to the park when we do.  I should be thankful from a national health perspective that their kids are at least getting out of the house and getting fresh air and sunshine.

        My comment was in defense of so many saying that 40′s parents are too old & broken down to parent, which is just ridiculous.

  • gabbismydog

    your guest is in a fantasy land when she talks about “national childcare”.  Seriously, the best situation for children is to have two loving parents and one that stays home to care for him/her.  Heaven forbid parents make some personal sacrifices to have children like not racking up so much debt that you can’t feel comfortable having children or thinking that you have to provide “the same opportunities” that you had.  Having children is a joy and a privilege and even children that grow up with “less” can survive and thrive. 

    • leanne Moore

      So what should we sacrifice? Living in a good school system? Food? Clothing? You are “in a fantasy land” if you think a child can be raised on one income, even a reasonable one! Do you think that people who make less than $60k a year should not be having kids? 

      • PJ2012

        I have been home full time raising our son since he was born. He is now 3 years old. My husband made less than $60k when he was born and paying child support for one child outside the home.
        We have not suffered at all in the ways you have mentioned. It is about the choices a family makes regarding what’s important. People can make it on less.

      • Biowood

        My wife and I have lived on less than $30k expenses annually for quite some time. Don’t have enough money? You’re likely choosing cable over kids, or a nicer car, or a bigger apartment or house. It’s about choices. If someone doesn’t want kids. Fine. That’s their choice. But not living in a financially responsible fashion and then whining about not being able to afford kids, or expecting your government or employer to pay for your kids is wrong. Just wrong. I don’t know your personal situation, but you seem to be speaking for those who make less than $60k, and government statistics show that average homes have lots of amenities

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/MXRPZXFK6YXTDAUW6YPT6MXKRU stinger


      You know,  I listened to this discussion today. While I do believe it’s
      probably better to have children later in life for well cited/argued reasons
      (financially/emotionally/maturity), I lost it when the “guest” got on her
      high horse about changing current legislation and employment policies to
      make it more fair for women who CHOOSE to go this route. 
      No, an employer should not be required/bound to “hold” your position
      (outside the current FLMA Act) so you can leave the workplace infinitely -
      you are not reserve military/forward deployed.
      No, a workplace should not be required to provide in house daycare.
      No, an insurance provider should not provide coverage for daycare.
      No, an insurance provider should not provide additional coverage for
      costly/Russian Roulette procedures such as IVF/In Vitro – that’s why they
      call it family PLANNING.
      See I have a problem with my effing gender.  We harp on how society should
      view us/treat us as EQUALs, yet they want all these effing concessions,
      considerations, privileges that males would NEVER get. They also want to
      harp on equal pay, fair treatment in the workplace, being seen as a
      professional colleague, being viewed as serious,  having the same
      promotional considerations… Really? How about not using your kid as an
      excuse to miss a deadline, leave your team shorthanded, leaving work early,
      not coming into work blah blah blah. Those women make the rest of us look
      dumb and “flakey.”
      Having children is a person choice. Choices go hand in hand with increased
      planning and responsibility. PUT YOUR BIG GIRL PANTIES ON AND DEAL WITH IT.
      We shouldn’t have to change a god@#$@$ thing for you. PERIOD.
      Like my Auntie Denee said, choose one thing and do it well.
      You wanna have kids and be a mom? Great! Do that one thing – do it well.
      You wanna have a career? Great! Do that one thing – do it well.

    • Quadraticus

      Well, the important point is that child care has a cost and it has to come from someplace. There isn’t a magical childcare fairy the government can draw upon to provide this service for free to every parent.

      This is like orthodontics. The reason the maximum benefit for ortho is about $1000 under most plans, even though the actual cost of orthodontics is about $4000, is that nearly everyone gets braces at some point in their lives: the cost amortized over the entire insured population is close to the individual cost, so there isn’t a much larger pool to which to spread the cost.

      Since births are at replacement level, the problem is actually worse with child care because the number of beneficiaries is almost exactly equal to the number of people in the pool.

  • RBowlin

    I am now 58 yr old man
    We had our first child when I was 52/53
    Within the year after birth the economy went bad. Lost almost everything.
    We moved to the Boston area because my wife was able to get a job.
    I was not able to get a job anywhere! Not even McDonalds.
    (The manager {of McDonalds} English was not very good and I could not understand him…)
    So, I became the stay at home dad…
    Growing up…
    I was the fourth child and I was raised by grandmother, mother, sister, brother, and dad.
    Now, no parents, my son is being raised by me and wife.
    We are new here in Boston so no relatives, no friends, etc.
    For my son it seemed good for him as I was putting in 200%
    He was doing very well academically.
    However, the economy was difficult to deal with. My wife was stressed out. She had the economic pressure, which in turn put pressure on me and also stressed me out.
    Doing this time I had gotten a couple of jobs. I became injured… back injury and a heel spur. I had to go through some therapy to recover. My wife thought I was lazy, etc.
    All this put pressure on the family.
    The whole thing lead to a divorce.
    I now have my 5 year old son half the time.
    I focus on my scheduled time with him.
    I do wonder what it will be like when he older???
    I have 90% recovered from my injuries. I am exercising again.
    Because of my and my son’s age, I am exercising more. I hope to play ball and other activities with him as the years go by. So, I have an incentive to keep in shape.
    I hope to be in good physical health for the next 10 years.
    I also hope that I am able to work until I am 73 so that I can put my son through college.
    Sorry, for the long comment



  • leanne Moore

    I am 30 and have a 2 year old. I would love to have more kids, but child care is so expensive that we have to wait until our first is in school to have another. Even with 2 full time jobs we can’t afford the $450+ a week it would cost to have 2 in in child care, and we can’t afford to stay home either. It is so discouraging! 

  • dfelsing

    I am 65 and my parents were 45 when I was born (1902). They didn’t marry each other until they were 42 and had no intention of having children (my father had a son from a previous marriage). I had a difficult relationship with my mother, and I believe her age was a major part of it. She was of a different generation, going through menopause when I was a young child. She luckily had some help from my aunt because my grandmothers were unable to help, my grandfathers dead. Most of my cousins were old enough to be my parents. They did live to be 91 and 89 and got to know their grandchildren, even took care of them. I hated having my parents mistaken for my grandparents. Having never had young parents I don’t know if my relationship with my parents would have been different.

    • Scott B

       I never minded that my parents were older. I had a lot of perspective granted me by them being Great Depression era kids, vs my contemporaries who parents were the Babyboomers and “Me” generation.  Plus, it was cool for me, when in social studies class, being the one kid in class whose dad was in WWII and able to relate his experience to them.

  • elisabeth wilkins


  • http://www.facebook.com/amy.c.magee.1 Amy C. Magee

    We kept waiting and waiting to “afford” having kids. Finally I said to my husband that ” the clock is running out of time” and at 38 we had our first beautiful child. 
    I see both the pros and cons of having kids later in life. I definitely have more life experience to share with my kids having waited. From my husbands side, he’s sees it differently. We are now facing paying for my daughter’s college in a couple of years and I have been working part time for 15 years. Not only that, retirement is on our heals. I would have pushed our ages back a few years but wouldn’t give up a minute of the sacred time I’ve had with my wonderful kids to help nurture and create incredible people that will contribute to society.  Now, we’ll forge ahead to make the next 40 years (hopefully) profitable enough to support ourselves and kids without looking back.

  • Lisa Foote

    Judith Shuelivitz’s comments that occupational therapy is a “new” profession and that it equals to taking a child to a “fancy gym” are very misguided, even though she herself has a child that received occupational therapy. I hope Shuelivitz, as a scientist, might take some time and read more in depth of the history, scope, and clinical reasoning and treatment of occupational therapy.  Tom Ashbrook’s comments also were misguided and uninformed when he questioned that aren’t children too young to have occupations? Occupation is an old fashioned word, but it refers to anything and everything we humans need and want to do to live our lives and function. A child’s occupation is primarily to grow and develop through play, learning, and socialization. Secondary occupations are as students, and all the functional tasks they participate in throughout the day at home and school.

    To clarify: I am an Occupational Therapist that works in school based practice with children on the autism spectrum.  Occupational Therapy as a profession was founded in 1917- so it is not a “new” profession.  It is transdisciplinary field, and an allied health profession- meaning OT’s have training in medical, neurological, developmental, and mental health knowledge.  OT works to help people age 0-100 optimize there functional performance and allow them to live their lives to the fullest, whether they are a premature baby, someone who has suffered and accident, veterans and soldiers with life changing injuries, and the elderly wanting to safely age in their homes. The only reason that the public might find it “new” are for two reasons: 1. Baby boomers aging in place and 2. the rise in developmental disorders in infants and children today.

    I do find the argument that part of the problem of increased developmental disorders could be aging parents/eggs/sperm and fertility drugs, along with the many other theories out there, and do not argue against this, but would like to set the listening public straight on the occupational therapy comments made in the piece.
    Lisa Foote MS OTR/L

    • Sara Cooley

      Fantastic comment.  I cringed when I heard the part about occupational therapy. I am surprised that a science writer wouldn’t have been more accurate.  I work in rehab as a speech pathologist and this is akin to hearing someone say “he doesn’t need speech therapy — he doesn’t even talk yet” about a child with a developmental disability.  Ugghh.

  • Mike_Card

    These comments are all interesting. However, what I’m hearing is a whole lot of “pity poor me.”

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MFT7UZYYS2GGV7MKJKBLLNJYJY John M

    I feel that the theme of this program is a woman’s right to have children while being able achieve their career path – the government needs to subsidize the choices people make. If you choose to bring children into this world, you should be able to have a plan to pay for such. This is your responsibility. You should not feel you have the right to have children. 

    Taking care of children means having maturity, responsibility and financial planning. Please do not rely on your employer or the government to take responsibility for your choice. 

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/275FKZFU3UD6WMGMTQ237D3RXM Anonymous

      A woman’s choice to have children puts doctors in hospitals, teachers in schools and politicians in office. I am not arguing a right to reproduce, but the reality is that numerous studies have demonstrated that having a family is considered beneficial to a man’s career and harmful to a woman’s career. This at the same time studies estimate that in the average four person family the mother does 70% of the domestic duties while earning over 50% of the income. The argument you proffer could be applied to college. When you say “the government needs to subsidize the choices people make” could just as easily apply to the financial aid offered to student’s. Should they not have to take responsibility for their choice and have a financial plan? I am not arguing against the necessity of maturity, responsibility and financial planning. I am saying that the government has a responsibility to encourage actions that help produce responsible citizens and further the aspirations of this country. Two ways in which they should be investing in this country’s future is by ensuring that there will still be citizen’s and by assisting in the education of those citizens.

  • Biowood

    One of your guests said that when a mother leaves the workforce that it’s a waste of an education. Really? My wife is one of the smartest people I know. She has a degree and had a professional job prior deciding to become a stay at home Mom. She’s traveled around the world and is a life long learner. She is doing some of the most important work in this world . . . raising two children. And doing a darned good job of it I might add. The condescending anti-family attitudes of persons like your “expert” are maddening. So much of the modern feminist movement is truly anti-mom, anti-child and anti-woman.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ashley.yoshida.9 Ashley Yoshida

    I was going to make a personal statement, but after reading some of the comments, I just got put off by American’s obsessive, egocentric perfectionism.  There are so many starving children, abused children, neglected, homeless children, children living in war torn countries, children forced into slavery and prostitution.  I  have two children ages five and eight.  My mother who travels to India about twice a year routinely reports on the heartbreak of meeting homeless orphans my children’s ages!  Get out of your obsessive “How can I be more perfect”? heads, be thankful for what you have, and get out and help some children or mothers and children with real problems.   For God’s sake!  The self-centered obsessions are really disgusting with the world in the state it is in.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/A6JKPKPZLFCGB5EURTNUNTGDXY Laura

    I thought we had been over this argument that women need to have children in their 20s. Look, they don’t. I had my first at 35 and my second at 38. I am an infinitely better parent for having waited. I liked the mom who called in saying she is less vulnerable to peer pressure and uses her own sound judgment in deciding how to parent. This is what maturity brings, and the kids benefit. I see a huge difference in the way I parent as compared to the way moms 10 years younger than me parent. They on average are far more punitive in their treatment of children, they have less patience, spend more time “doing their own thing” instead of being with their kids, they run after every trend out there. I don’t. My kids are happy, well-adjusted and they do well in school. That’s all I expect of them at this age, but if I’d had kids 10 years earlier, I’d be far more concerned about how they “appeared.”

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/275FKZFU3UD6WMGMTQ237D3RXM Anonymous

    My great great Grandmother continued to have children after her eldest daughter had my Grandfather. Due to this I have an “Uncle” who is in actuality my deceased Grandfather’s Uncle. My mother grew up knowing a large multi-generational family and I think that it made her a more confident and secure person. She was encouraged and protected by these people. She had me when she was 40 yrs old and nearly all these people who impacted her formative years were deceased. I am now 22yrs old. I only ever knew one of my grandparents and have only 9 people in my extended family. I think the lack of older generations degrades our sense of identity and in many ways our sense of community. 

  • anon

    As an American who has lived in the Middle East for many years, I find it interesting to see the contrast in attitudes towards having children. Here, children are considered a blessing, not a burden. Couples don’t analyze and agonize for years over whether or not to have one, and then when to have one – and then go through the same thing about whether or not to have more than one. It is not unusual for a woman to have a baby around the same time that her daughter has a baby, so it is not that unusual for children to have aunts or uncles who are the same age as them. The whole society is set up differently. A young woman often has her first baby while in university, but she has household help and help from her mother and other family members; there are still more women in college than men, and women earn more graduate degrees than men do. Government policy is supportive of families; women have generous maternity benefits, time off (when they come back to work) for breastfeeding during the day, free government health care, and they can retire after working 5 fewer years than men, to compensate for time taken off for having children…

  • Regular_Listener

    I must disagree with something Shulavitz said towards the beginning of the program – that American birth rates are too low.  I would say the opposite is the case – we have gone from a nation of 125 million in 1960 to over 330 million today.  That is not due to low birth rates – it is pretty close to being out of control population growth. 

    She may really mean that educated white people are not having very many children.  However, less affluent folks of all backgrounds, recent immigrants, Asian-Americans, and Latinos continue to have children at high rates.  (From what I have heard rates for African Americans have been holding steady).  This is something I have seen going on in my personal observations, and I think it is a dangerous trend, one that is sure to lead to serious social problems down the road (and right now).   I think the government needs to support people who have 1-2 children, and begin taking steps to discourage those who have more.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=535178480 Philip Howells

    I wish I had been able to call in.  My Mother was 36 when I was born, my Father died 6 months later at age 44.  I feel my life was normal and didn’t see a difference in my friends parents age.  I waited till 28 for my first child having not wanted children till then, I was more mature and better able to handle the responsibility.  My last child was born when I was 35, she is 14 now and I find parents of her classmates to be extremely annoying and childish.  People I went to school with have grandchildren of their own and I wish I had that now while my health and energy are good.

    Raising children young while working is tough, getting time off for doctors appointments being able to stay home when they are sick.  I have 19 years at my job and carry the maximum vacation time and plenty of sick time, I could have used that 20 years ago.

    Saying the birth rate is low is not comprehensible, the rate of unemployment, and people multi generational on welfare.  Illegal workers in the news….If the population of the United States were to decrease shouldn’t there be jobs aplenty to alleviate these problems.

Sep 17, 2014
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson watches from the sidelines against the Oakland Raiders during the second half of a preseason NFL football game at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Friday, Aug. 8, 2014. (AP/Ann Heisenfelt)

The NFL’s Adrian Peterson and the emotional debate underway about how far is too far to go when it comes to disciplining children.

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Bob Dylan and Victor Maymudes at "The Castle" in LA before the 1965 world tour. Lisa Law/The Archive Agency)

A new take on the life and music of Bob Dylan, from way inside the Dylan story. “Another Side of Bob Dylan.”

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From "Rich Hill"

“Rich Hill,” a new documentary on growing up poor, now, in rural America. The dreams and the desperation.

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Jasmin Torres helps classmate Brianna Rameles with a worksheet at the Diloreto Magnet School in New Britain, Conn., Wednesday Feb. 22, 2012. (AP/Charles Krupa)

More parents are “red-shirting” their children in kindergarten—holding them back for a year, hoping they’ll have an edge. Does it work? We look.

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