Is there a “good” age to become a parent?

A couple of days ago, Mouse_Spouse said, “When I’m 50, our daughter will be 16.”
“You make that sound like a bad thing.”
“I just wanted to start a family earlier.”
“How early? My mother turns 50 this month and I’m 30.”

Is there an age consider best to start a family?

My thoughts: I think that culture plays a large factor in this. My extended family is in the Southern U.S. and they are all very religious (Methodist on Mother’s side, Mormon on Father’s.) Cousins marry in their late teens or early twenties, and children closely follow. From what my brother (father at 17, skipped the marriage bit) has told me, everyone thought that I wouldn’t have kids – I was too old.

On the other hand, when I worked in academic research, having a child at 30 is generally considered “to young.”

What are your thoughts?

Between 25 and 35 are the optimal times. But that’s just my two bits.

I had my first only a year ago - I was 38 and my wife was 39.

I think we waited a bit too long, for the simple reason that we aren’t as energetic as we were a decade earlier - parenting takes a lot of energy.

There are lots of reasons for having 'em so late. We both wanted established careers before having kids. We also wanted a house to have the kids live in. Then, when we tried, it took longer than we thought.

I also think that we simply weren’t mentally prepared to have kids when we were younger.

I was 35. My wife was 33. Personally I couldn’t have imagined doing it any earlier in life; I was having far too good of a time. In my mid-30s I could get up at 2:00 A.M. and then again at 5:00 A.M. for the rest of the day. My wife was pregnant again when our daughter was 8 months old. I got up and “played house” numerous mornings with my daughter, so that my wife and son could sleep.

I only state this because the thoughts of me in my 20s drinking pretend tea and eating pretend sandwiches at 5:00 A.M. almost every single day just wouldn’t have happened.

It sounds like you folks are right about the same age as we were as new parents. With age comes a clearer outlook on priorities in life, and with age comes patience. Being a new parent in your mid-thirties sounds just perfect to me. You will have the wisdom and the patience to raise them right.

Tell your husband “bon apetite” from me.

I think late 20’s to mid 30’s is a good time to start.

Since this is a fully IMHO type question:

For guys I’d say between 29-33 would be prime. For gals I’d say 26-30.
Just a preference.

I have read that, since the twenties is the prime age to physically bear chilcren, but late thirties, forties, and fifties is the prime age to teach them, the ideal arrangement would have the grandparents doing most of the teaching, as part of a multigenerational social group. I may be garbling this, though.

All I know is, I think of becoming a father at my age, and I dread the idea of being in my early sixties with a teenager. At 43, the optimal time for fatherhood has passed.

Oh, I don’t know, especially if your wife is a bit younger.

I do generally agree that between late 20s and mid-30s is about optimal. You’re trying to split the difference between being an improvident kid hellbent on fun, and a depleted old geezer who has money, but energy for nothing more than the newspaper.

And beyond the issue of age, there’s the issue of spacing the children. On that aspect I have a more decided opinion: put 'em as close together as you can. You’ll regret it at first, but reap your reward later.

This is my own vote, as well. But I’ve known first-time parents who were older, and have done well. The point where I’d say that one should start asking questions about the wisdom of the situation would be under 21, and over about 50.

(Yes, I think that sixty-something mother is absolutely-frigging nuts.)

I think sometime between 25 and 30 is the best time. Old enough to know what you’re getting into, but young enough to keep up with them. That’s not to say, though, that starting earlier or later isn’t going to work.

30 really is the new 20, and most of the 20-somethings I know, even the ones making six-figures, are not ready to become parents. They’re just not willing to give up their lifestyles quite yet. I’d say 30-35 is a bit more realistic.

I think it sucks that women have such a short fertility peak. I feel more emotionally ready to have my second child now at (gulp) almost 30, but it definitely took longer to conceive this one than our first, at 26. Just a few years makes a difference. All those 18-22 year olds full of fertility and don’t want kids yet. Too many of my friends had fertility issues for me to feel safe about not starting until after 35. If you only want one kid, or two very close together though, waiting until early 30’s is probably safe. Of course everyone has to take their own readiness into account, physical, emotional, financial, etc. For me, when I hear of someone having a baby before 22 or so, I think “that’s young!” And anyone over 40 I think “that’s old.” Not that it can’t be done or won’t work out for that individual.

Also, if one is adopting an older child especially, I think mid to late 30’s is better than 20’s. More wisdom is better.

I have to disagree with that. We have three daughters with 5-6 years between each. It is nice to have a “breather” between the major events in their lives. We can enjoy them more individually & we can afford some of them (new driver car insurance, college, weddings) better as well.

My answer is 26 - 35 with a little more flexibility for males. One thing that is unfortunate is that the media and popular culture is convincing females (and their associated males) that they have more time than they really do. Female fertility starts to plunge after the 20’s and medical science can enhance the fertility that is left but can’t extend it at all once the time has passed. A lot of the females, well-known and otherwise, that we see have kids in their late thirties and early forties may have had to go through an incredible ordeal to have even one child. Fertility treatments are expensive and maybe lengthy and trying. If those fail, it may come down to donated eggs or adoption as a last resort. There is nothing wrong with that but it wouldn’t be most people’s first choice. The point is that sooner is better than later within reason if having children is a primary life goal. A twist of luck or circumstances can make the whole thing disappear entirely or make it much harder than it would have been.

How old do you want to be when you run behind a bike to teach a seven year old to ride a two wheeler because she only now developed the confidence? I’d recommend it be before 40, unless you are in better shape than I am. Subtract seven years.

From the other end, you need to have reached emotional adulthood. If you still get pissy when you don’t get to go out to dinner at the restaurant you wanted, you aren’t ready to parent because as a parent, you don’t even get to EAT your own dinner, much less choose it.

Both of these are excellent points. I had mine at 37 and 40, and as far as your first point, I would say, yes, I wish I’d had them at a younger age. On the other hand, not TOO much younger, because of your second point. I think that between 30 & 35 is a great age for it.

My brother was 44 when his daughter was born – she’ll be an only child. Because of where he is in his career, he has all kinds of time to spend with her, time I didn’t have for my boys when I was in my 30s and trying to build a career. My sons are 25 and 30, both married for a few years and are just now beginning to contemplate parenthood. I think they’re going to enjoy it more than my wife and I did.

On the other hand, younger people have more stamina and seem to be a little less risk-averse, which means their kids aren’t as protected so they get to explore more. I don’t mean playing in the street (not a good thing) but things like swinging higher in the swing, playing sports younger, those kinds of things.

This is a question with no “one size fits all” answer. The only real constraint is fertility; other than that, it wholly depends on the parents.

Although we married fairly young (23 and 25), I was almost 40 and my husband 42 when our first and only child was born. For us, that was the right choice (though I sometimes wish we had left ourselves the option of having a second kid) but it would not be for many people.

My son keeps me in shape! I am in better health at 48 than a lot of people much younger than me – obviously, that is partly the luck of the gene pool, but I am highly motivated to keep fit, eat well, etc. because, when he is finally old enough to hike up Mauna Kea (16 is the youngest allowed for safety reasons), I don’t want to be TOO old. When I feel like stopping a workout early, I imagine us tromping up a mountain together, and that keeps me going.

If he does what his parents did, though, we probably won’t ever really know our grandchildren. That’s sad.

I wonder if it wouldn’t be better for women to have children much earlier - 16 to 20? After 20 years, she’s still the right side of 40 and enjoying being a grandmother and has over 25 years of working life.

My parents had my brother and I at 32/38 and 34/40. I thought it worked out really well for us. They were always stable (financially and otherwise), available, responsible parents.