There may be benefits to delaying motherhood, according to new research.
Researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark found that “older” women are more likely to handle the different aspects of parenting better than younger mothers.
More Positive Parenting?
In the study, Danish investigators followed the social and emotional development of children at ages 7, 11, and 15. They saw that kids of mothers who were at least 30 years old had fewer behavioral, social, or emotional issues at 7 and 11 years old, although not at age 15. These older moms were also less likely to scold and punish their child.
“[W]hen estimating the consequences of the rising maternal age it’s important to consider both the physical and psychosocial pros and cons,” said study author and Professor Dion Sommer in a statement.
Previous research links a higher maternal age to greater psychosocial well-being while one is pregnant and shortly after giving birth. This new study extends the benefits well into the child’s school age, which could decline before age 15.
Women today may be delaying motherhood for several reasons, such as more educational and professional opportunities and improved contraception. In Denmark, the average pregnancy age is 30.9 years, and the rate of children born to women who are more than age 40 has quadrupled from 1985.
Maternal aging, however, has been associated with a greater risk for complications, including miscarriage, premature birth, and having a child with deformities.
Stable Relationships At Work
What could probably lead to these benefits of being an older mother? It’s the probability of having more stable relationships, more education, and improved access to material resources, according to the researchers.
Humans generally become more mentally flexible, more tolerant, and emotionally better as they age, which is why psychological maturity may be the reason why older mothers are less likely to scold and physically discipline their offspring, Sommer explained.
“This style of parenting can thereby contribute to a positive psychosocial environment which affects the children’s upbringing,” he concluded.
The findings were discussed in the European Journal of Developmental Psychology.
Other Findings On Parenting Effects
A 2016 study noted that of 28,000 U.S. women, those bearing their first child after age 25 were 11 percent more likely to live to 90 years than those who became mothers earlier in life. In 2014, a study also discovered that women giving birth after age 33 were half as likelier to reach 95 years old than their peers who had their last child at age 29 or younger.
A cause-and-effect was not established in these studies, and it is possible that older moms in the experiments were simply healthier.
More recent findings revealed that while challenging, parenting can lead people to live longer, whether one has a son or daughter. Using Swedish health data, researchers found that at 60 years old, fathers are more likely to live two years longer than those without children, while mothers can expect to live 1.5 years longer than childless ones.
At any rate, a new viewpoint published in JAMA urged women to keep exercising while pregnant for her and her baby’s healthy development.