When I was in school, nearly all of my peers had parents that were generally the same age. I remember one classmate who did not fall into that group. Her father was in his late 60s when she was a senior in high school. He would attend school events taking pictures of his daughter, but I remember how many of my classmates would ask if he was her grandfather. She took the questions in stride and answered simply, “No, that’s my dad.” It wasn’t until much later in life when my peers chose to wait to have children that I first started considering the potential long-term effects of waiting to have children.
The Age Gap is Bigger than You May Think
I have a 16 year old daughter and one of my close high school friends just announced he would be having his third child. Another of my high school friends just announced the birth of his first child. From my standpoint the years of having children are over. My last children were born nearly 10 years ago, yet many of my classmates are just now choosing to have a first, second or third child.
When you take age into consideration, my first child will be about 22 when these children start school. She will be 34 when they graduate high school. Theoretically, I could have grandchildren in elementary school with the children of my peers. I undoubtedly support couples having children at any age they see fit, but I can’t help but think about the impact of advanced parental age on future generations.
Will Grandparents Soon Be Considered a Novelty?
Using pure mathematics and current changes in parental age, there could be an entire generation of children out there who never have the chance to get to know their grandparents. Waiting to have children until you are nearly 40 could mean your children follow in those same footsteps. Assuming children wait until they are 40 to start a family, grandparents could be nearly 80 when grandchildren are born, leaving very little time to play an important role in the child’s life.
I was lucky enough to spend more than 25 years with my grandfather by my side. He was there for the birth of two of my children and I have pictures of them running around his house. My grandfather was my world when I was a teenager, but will our future generations have the pleasure of spending most of their lives knowing their grandparents or will grandparents eventually become a novelty like my classmate’s older dad?