With the carouselers getting older before settling down and marriage statistics showing that men and women are waiting to get married at an older age (if at all), it is no wonder that the age when they start having kids is also getting later and later. Third Millennial Men did this great post: Ageing and don’t wait to have kids .
It seems a trend in the Sphere to recommend that you have kids when you hit your 30′s. That’s fine, but be aware that there are issues of having kids too late. Quality of sperm decreases for one, and here’s another that I’d never thought of until I read it here. You want to be able to spend good, healthy years with your kids if you want them, which I certainly do!
So it does come down to when is the best time to have kids and still feel fulfilled as a person, like you aren’t missing out on your “best years” by taking care of little rugrats. Obviously it’s going to vary from person to person and couple to couple. The length of relationship and age when you finally settle down into that structure also plays a large part. Holly and I met in college, I think we were both 22. We got to spend almost 7 years together just her and I before we started our family. She was insistent that we try and have a baby before she was 30. This amount of time was spent pursuing fitness goals (Ironman, bike racing, running races), traveling a bit and partying a bit and generally being selfish. We wanted some sort of financial stability as well, which wasn’t afforded us at a younger age. All in all, 29 years old seemed like a good age to do it. By the time the kids are “grown up” we’ll be about 50 years old and still young enough to do some more cool stuff without them.
One of my old bosses didn’t adopt his first kid until he was in his early 40′s and my current boss had his first when he was 32 (after biking around the world with his wife) and his last when he was 43. The difference is my current boss lives like a mid-20′s guy and is super fit, super active and does tons of stuff with his youngest while my old boss was set in his ways (didn’t get married until late 30′s) and kids were somewhat a burden to his lifestyle. That’s really the crux of the situation though isn’t it? The longer you live life as a non-parent, the more set in your ways you get and the more they’ll likely disrupt the little world you’ve built.
Bottom line is, if you are comfortable with your relationship and don’t have any burning desire to climb Mt. Killamanjaro, I’d encourage people that want to kids to have them earlier rather than later. To some extent, the closer you are in age to your kids, the more you’ll have in common with them too. The friends I’ve had whose parents had them as teenagers or early 20′s seem to have really close relationships with their parents vs. those that had older parents. Having kids tires you out and when you’re younger you typically have more energy to deal with all their shenanigans. Plus, the younger you have them, the more time you have to spend with them in your lifetime. While children are only young for what seems like a blink of an eye, having your adult children around for a longer part of your life has to be rewarding if you’ve got a good relationship with them.
So what do you think is the perfect age to have children? Do you wish you started earlier or later? My final answer is between 25-30, though obviously different strokes for different folks (and we had ours when we were 29 and 31, so obviously my perspective is biased). There isn’t much at this stage of my life that I can’t accomplish or go after because I’ve had children. They get to be part of the process and are along for the ride.