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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