Is it ever a good idea to have kids late in life?
November 21, 2013 10:18 AM   Subscribe

I would like to hear from either parents who had children much later than they planned, and also from people whose parents were older than "normal". What were the main obstacles? What do you wish you had known in advance if you were the parent? What would you have advised your parent if you were the child? And what were the positives on each side? Complications to follow.

I am in the process of dealing with the end of my marriage. My husband and I are both 37. Before the relationship ended I was involved with another man, who is 57. That relationship is on hold for the forseeable future as I am grieving my marriage hard, despite the fact that it was my decision to end it, partly due to my feelings for this other man. However, it is very likely that when I have moved on it will be with this man.

In any other circumstances I would think it would be stupid to even be contemplating the idea of having children, before we were in a more settled place, ideally a year or so down the line. However, he had a vasectomy about ten years ago when his family was complete (he has 2 adult children). My husband and I had decided we didn't want kids - I had felt very strongly that I never wanted them, despite being very maternal it just wasn't an urge that I had, and H was the same. When I first relaised I had feelings for the other person, I actually cried because I realised that if I was ever going to have kids, it would be his I wanted, and as at that point I thought that was a total impossibility I kind of grieved for the babies I would never have. And when I found out he couldn't have any more kids I was really crushed, which was very confusing to me as, again, it never crossed my mind that there was any way for us to be together. But both of us were really sad because, I guess, we felt that thing that people feel, and that my husband and I had never felt about each other, ie not "I want kids" but "I want YOUR kids". He loves being a Dad and is a great one, and would love to have a baby with me (he has talked about what it would be, who it would look like...conversations that I have never had with anyone before, and he is obviously totally aware of the reality of what is involved in childrearing.)

Despite the fact that things have moved on, I would still not be in any rush to move to this stage yet. However given both our ages I know that if we did end up together and did want children, our window of opportunity is really small. He had talked to his GP about the possibility of a vasectomy reversal, just to see if it would even be possible, and he has an appointment in the next couple of weeks with a consultant. In some ways I'm not ready to really think about it, and yet if it is possible to go ahead with it (and I'm not sure if it even is) then the procedure might come around really quickly. So before I would ask him to go through with it, I want to resolve in my head whether it is something that we should just forget about and accept that this won't be a part of any relationship we might have.

Although he is older, he is very fit, does a lot of sport, is slim, doesn't smoke and rarely drinks. My periods are regular as clockwork, and always have been, and apart from being a bit overweight (and have some back issues I'm getting treatment for) I'm relatively healthy. So if we leave the health aspects out of it (and also we would accept and love a child who had any health issues in the same way we would accept and love a healthy child) what should we be thinking about?

I'm worried about how much energy he will have in ten years. I'm worried about having a child who might lose a parent when they were still relatively young, or who might have to deal with a parent with health issues relating to age. His adult children might be very resentful. But then there is the part of me that thinks it would be amazing, and that having kids is always hard but the joys outweigh the sorrows, and that maybe I met him so I could have this choice to make.

So if you had kids later what would you advise me? What problems have I not even thought about? If you were in my position and chose not to have kids how did you make your decision, and how did you deal with the "what might have been"? If you grew up with older parents, did it feel like they made a selfish decision? Or were you just grateful to have the time or childhood that you did? Any input is really appreciated.
posted by outoftime to Human Relations (29 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
My father was 50 when I was born (my mother was 32, which was older than normal but not so much). My dad died when I was 19 of a heart attack, which was difficult, especially financially because I was in college and things were up in the air about that. I'm an only child, so I can't speak to sibling aspects. I didn't think my childhood was strange because my parents were older, or because my dad travelled, or any of the other things that made people think my childhood was a bit odd when I grew up. I was glad to have my dad as long as I did and wish I'd had him longer, but we also had some conflicts because of age-related (generational) issues. My dad was born in 1917 and the expectations of kids when he was young and the expectations of kids in the 70s and 80s were a little different.

I think my parents made some selfish procreative decisions, but I don't think they had to do with age. My mother probably should not have had kids at all and having them at a different life stage probably wouldn't have solved those concerns. (I am 46 and childfree fwiw.)
posted by immlass at 10:30 AM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

If this guy keeled over tomorrow, do you think you would you still want to have kids with whomever you wound up with next? Would you seek out your next relationship with the mindset that you were looking for someone to have a family with, or would your magic 8-ball bob back to "signs point to no"? I think you need to untangle your feelings for this guy vs. your feelings about having kids, because from where I stand it sounds like your baby urges are not so much about wanting a child in and of itself as about wanting a tangible manifestation of the powerful feelings you have for him and having this shared project and meaning in your life.
posted by drlith at 10:33 AM on November 21, 2013 [11 favorites]

My partner's dad was in his early 50s when he was born (his mom was 30), and he died just last year, at 101. He was a dancer and a teacher, and was pretty active and fit well into his 80s, and stayed pretty sharp into his mid-90s. My partner has always said that it was never really a big deal that his dad was so much older than his peers' parents; if anything, his dad's age and charisma gave him a kind of "father of the neighborhood" status. He certainly never felt his parents made a selfish decision on the basis of his dad's age. I think he regrets a little that his dad was so busy (he ran a dance studio into his 70s) and so they didn't get to spend as much time together doing father/son activities as he would have liked, but that was wholly a work thing and not an age thing.
posted by scody at 10:38 AM on November 21, 2013

You are an emotional mess right now, this is not anything you should be thinking about.

When you have grieved your marriage, and understand where you went wrong, and when you have well and truly come to understand everything about what you want out of life and love, THEN can you start thinking about this.

You're still woozy from the anesthesia from your surgery.

Older parents are more settled, mature and financially secure, so that's in the pro column. I currently have NO energy and it's not going to get better as I get older. I can't IMAGINE a man of 57 actually wanting more children, except as a way to ensnare a younger woman, or as a way to capitulate to her to make her happy. I'm 52 and having babies, toddlers, tweens and teens in my everyday life fills me with Dread.

People have children when they are younger because they are more resiliant. Sure, there are older folks out there who are parents and they do a fine job of it. More power and all of that. But you really need to assess where you are, and where you want to be. This man is moving forward secure in the knowledge that he needs to reverse his vasectomy, and you're not even divorced yet!

What does that say about his decisions? Nothing good I'm afraid. He made a permanant decision in getting the vasectomy, and now that you MIGHT be together, he's going down to see about reversing it? What if you decide not to be with him? What if you decide that you don't want kids? Isn't he jumping the gun here? Why IS he doing that?

Everyone envisions the perfect little babies they'd make. What if you have a special needs child? What if you have problems getting preganant. How convicted are you about that. If it's a "If it happens, it happens" kind of thing, then great.

Really though, having children with the lover you cheated on your spouse with is a fantasy. Wait until you're divorced. Wait until you've been through some therapy. Wait until you've lived on your own for a year. Only then should you even entertain the idea. And only if the guy is still single, and you're both still in love.

This is just mental masturbation and it will hurt your mental recovery from the dissolution of your marriage. Just stop it.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:45 AM on November 21, 2013 [21 favorites]

Both my mom and my dad were older than you but younger than your guy. From my point of view, my mom was great, while my dad was just kind of there. Don't get me wrong, he was a good provider and protector and such, and he certainly was not a bad parent - no abuse or anything even remotely like that - but he seemed somewhat removed from my day to day upbringing.

Looking back on it now, I have noticed a trend that my older siblings speak of him in beaming and reverent tones, as if he was the greatest father of all time. He taught them things, he played with them, he had lots of conversations with them, and so on. With me, meanwhile, well, mostly he came home from work, had dinner, watched the ball game. And after he retired, he watched more ball games. If I didn't know otherwise, I would suspect that the father that my older siblings describe was an entirely different person than the father I knew. Honestly, part of me feels a little cheated if I think about it, but it's not something that frequently comes to mind in my day to day life.

I do remember when I was a small child noticing that other fathers were younger, and that they seemed more involved with their kids. And I remember things like "the one time he pitched to me*", thinking this is ridiculous, he's old, he can't get a pitch past me. When I was like six.

The slow decline in his health and faculties became gradually evident to me maybe in late high school or early college. Soon thereafter it became a drastic decline. I was not experienced with or prepared for dealing with invalid people, and I didn't really know what to do whenever my mom and I would go to visit him at the nursing home, other than just say "Hi Dad" at the start, scratch his back or whatever while my mom spoke to him, and "Love you Dad" as we went to leave. Looking back at it now, I feel selfish for having felt so, but at that time I could not help feel awkward and put upon in this situation.

With all that said, I'm certainly glad they had me. And I have, overall, positive feelings about him, and like I said he was a good provider and protector and such.

*: I'm sure he must have pitched to me more than once, but that one time is literally in my mind as "the one time"; he can't possibly have pitched to me frequently up to that point, and I think he never did again.
posted by Flunkie at 10:49 AM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Leaving aside everything else in your question . . .

Provided you don't have trouble getting pregnant, I don't think your own age would be an issue -- my parents were 39 when I was born and I never felt disadvantaged in any way. There are plenty of advantages to older parents -- calm, general life experience, settled careers. They couldn't have, I dunno, played backyard football with me, but they helped me with school projects and made Halloween costumes and all those other parent things. As an adult it's a bit frightening to think that I may not have them in my life as long as my friends with younger parents will have theirs, but as a child it never even occurred to me that there was anything negative about it.

57 is somewhat different, because it involves having still-comparatively-young children not just as a middle-aged person, but as an elderly person. Consider what it will be like for you -- if your child is born when he's, say, 60, and (God forbid) he dies at 75, do you feel prepared to see a child through the last three years of high school and launch them into college and early adulthood by yourself? How about if he develops non-fatal but serious health problems in his seventies or early eighties -- are you prepared to care for him and parent a teenager at the same time? Consider also finances. Would your family have enough money/insurance to handle college and potential middle-aged health emergencies simultaneously? Your child will probably not have his or her father around to talk to and ask for advice by 30 or 35 -- are you OK with this?

But, yeah, totally regardless of your "window of opportunity," don't do anything until you've actually lived together as partners for a while first. Having a father a couple years older than he would have been otherwise is nothing in comparison to having a kid and belatedly realizing this is going to be way more complicated than you had reckoned on.
posted by ostro at 11:11 AM on November 21, 2013 [4 favorites]

I found your post really interesting to read for a lot of reasons. I'm the same age as you, single and have pretty much resigned myself to the suspicion that kids and a good man will not happen for me (and no internet dating is not my cup of tea. That said.. never say never...
I do know exactly what you mean about being 'ambivalent' about having kids until you are with a person that you can really imagine sharing that with.

37 is a weird age isn't it? The biological clock is definately ticking louder... sometimes I feel a bit jealous of men for not having to even think about that stuff till years later if they so choose. Whilst ideally you wouldn't have to stress yourself with thoughts about this just now (and maybe you don't need to.. just now) with the enormity of a divorce and it's aftermath etc already draining your emotions.. I can see why you are with both your ages.

As for the age thing - I am the half sister of 2 young women who are not related (one is my mum's and one is my dads). My mum and stepmum both got pregnant within a few months of each other in their 40's. Interestingly one of my sisters is adamant she wants to have kids in her 20's as she felt her parents didn't have enough energy for her.
posted by tanktop at 11:21 AM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Some firsthand experience here. Saying that you will "think about kids" at 57 is one thing. Saying that you will FATHER A CHILD at 57 and then firing off the rounds to do it is quite another.

This is not even allowing for another year or two for you to recover from your divorce. Fast-forward. He'll be 59.

Saying you'll think about kids at 59 is one thing. Saying that you will FATHER A CHILD...

If you do end up together. A big if. HE, not you, will have to lead the way if he wants even one child at 58, 59, 60, 61...

So if kids are a serious part of your life plan. Use this time to think it over.
posted by skbw at 11:28 AM on November 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

So as not to misuse the edit window. I am now celebrating nine years with a man who is now 63. When we got together, I was 27 and he was 54. He thought he could do children but then examined his conscience and thought better of it.

I was OK with the tradeoff. Would you be?
posted by skbw at 11:30 AM on November 21, 2013 [4 favorites]

These are important issues that you should think hard about. I'm going to pipe in here to give you practical advice. It didn't used to be the case that they could freeze unfertilized eggs. Now sophisticated clinics can freeze eggs with great success. If I were you, I would go and freeze my eggs RIGHT NOW. This can be done over a few months (and you may even be able to do it by taking clomid which is pretty cheap and can be taken orally. Freezing your eggs will take some of the pressure off.

You do need to to the right clinic so put some effort into researching that.
posted by bananafish at 11:35 AM on November 21, 2013 [3 favorites]

If I could favorite Ruthless Bunny's post a thousand times I would.

There are so many things for you to process right now - slow down! Your marriage is just ending. (You don't say whether the divorce is final yet or not.) You and your BF are still in that starry-eyed stage; you haven't done the nitty-gritty of trying to build a life together yet.

Now to answer your question: Kids are not an Anne Geddes photograph. They are needy, helpless little things that cry and poop and need to be held and fed, and that's just the beginning of it. 37 is not old for a mom these days, but 57 is getting up there for a dad of an infant. Your BF loves the idea of "your child," but does he want to be 60 and chasing a toddler? Or, for that matter, 60 and up at night with a crying infant? 75 and dealing with a hormonal teenager? And what if your child has special needs? Can he hack being 70 and dealing with a high-special-needs child that might never be independent? Could you deal with being a young widow with a child, special-needs or no? What about putting your teenager through the elder-care mill - what if you had to choose between caring for your husband and seeing to it that your teenager had a semblance of a normal life?

There are things to think about when deciding to have kids with a much older father. And, frankly, your BF sounds like he is spinning starry-eyed fantasies about having a child with you that might not stand up to reality. Take one step at a time - deal with the end of your marriage, and see if this new relationship will even last once your marriage is truly over. Then, if you are still with your BF and still want kids, go to a fertility clinic and a marriage counselor to talk about 1) whether your BF can father a child at his age and 2) what raising a child at his age really entails.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 11:43 AM on November 21, 2013 [4 favorites]

The average life expectancy for a man in the U.S. is ~76 years old. My mom is currently terminally ill and will likely die at the age of 66. It's been hard enough for me to deal with at the age of 37. Dealing with it as a teenager would have been much, much worse, I suspect.

Difficulty conceiving (especially after a vasectomy) and risk for birth defects also rise with the age of both the mother and the father. Just some things to keep in mind.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 11:57 AM on November 21, 2013

So as not to misuse the edit window. I am now celebrating nine years with a man who is now 63. When we got together, I was 27 and he was 54. He thought he could do children but then examined his conscience and thought better of it.

Similarly, my partner and I are 63 and 33, respectively. (We've been together since we were 57 and 27). He has always been a Childfree kind of guy, and still is, since we don't really have the financial resources to parent. If we, for some reason, had tons of money pouring in next year, I would still be hesitant to parent, not because I'm worried about my ability to single parent someday (you can be a window/er if your spouse dies at 30, or 40, or 50), but because I would like to enjoy my relationship with my partner for as long as I can.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:12 PM on November 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

As an active and involved 37 year old dad of a five year old and a two year old, I can say that there are days when the physicality of having two very active kids is *a lot*. They have no respect for back pain, accidentally headbutting my groin in an attempt to give hug, waking me up at 3 AM with a harmonica next to your head (haha haha little girl very funny... thank you for the concert), sitting on my head and bouncing when I am sick and exhausted and still have to watch them... You know, that's ignoring the fact that they're little disease factories, already having delivered three colds and a major virus this season alone.

It is good my kids are cute and make me want to be a better dad some days.

With that said, my youngest first cousin has a sibling my age and a sibling that just turned 40. She is in first grade. Her dad, my dad's older brother, is well into his 60s and is old enough to be drawing social security and retiring. He isn't - on both accounts - but that is a real thing. There are real aspects of that.

Kids can be had at nearly any age. Just remember though, while he's going through the real possibilities of age-related disease, your kid will be getting out of diapers. Assuming he hits the average male life expectancy of 81, your child will be in his mid 20s. My grandfather died at 94. Tim Russert died at 58 (he's my go-to benchmark). I'm not saying to plan on death, but ask yourself: how did you feel when your parents died? How was their health and quality of life before they left? Hopefully you don't yet know the answer to that question. Understand though, by your age now - your child will have likely answered this question at least once.
posted by Nanukthedog at 12:16 PM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

I had older parents (they couldn't have children until reproductive technology/law caught up with my mom's fertility issues). My mother was 53 when she had me (via surrogacy) and my father was 57. I am an only child. I loved my mother more than life itself, but it sucked. They passed away within a year of each other when I was 22/23. They were, culturally and socially, more like grandparents (think about parenting a teenager when your partner is in his late 60s). The fear of my parents dying kept me up at night as a child.

I don't think you're too old to have kids. I do think your partner, who has adult children, is probably too old to have more.

I also think this is not the time for you to think about it. Grieve your marriage and recover, form a strong relationship with this man if you choose, and then think about children.
posted by lydhre at 12:18 PM on November 21, 2013 [10 favorites]

Disadvantage to older parents: They're both dead and I'm not yet 40.
posted by oflinkey at 12:30 PM on November 21, 2013 [4 favorites]

My grandmother was 40 and my grandfather was 50 when my mother was born; she also has an older sister. My grandfather died when I was ten (mom was about forty) and my grandmother when I was 24. My other grandparents had their first at 19 and died when I was 29. They all died of just old age. I remember all of them.

No one lives could get hit by a bus tomorrow. If you want kids, just do it. The biggest downside I've heard is that youhave much more energy at 19 than at 40!
posted by jrobin276 at 12:44 PM on November 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

FWIW I'm 42 (my wife is 45) and we have a five year old and it's great. Not sure I'd want more than one, though, and I'm glad we weren't too much older.
posted by Sebmojo at 1:12 PM on November 21, 2013

My father was sixty years old when I was born. My mother was forty. I am the youngest of twelve. Among my siblings, one sister and one brother are still living. I am the only child of my mother and father. My father raised a family in Mexico before he met my mother: I believe he had six or seven children. His wife died, and his children were adults when he returned to the US. I've never met any of my Mexican siblings. (As I said, all my siblings are half-sibs.)

I don't see any particularly negative age-related issues at play here. Certainly there were none in my family. One thing about being on the low end of the sib-cycle was that my father died when I was in my twenties, and my mother died when I was in my early thirties. Mom might have lived longer had she not been a smoker.

In my case, my brothers and sisters were more like uncles and aunts to me, and my nephews and nieces were my peers. When my parents passed they left various gaps in the family's interaction. My father was mostly out of the picture from the time I was about three years old. I saw him rarely. I know him mostly from the stories told by the family: most of them liked him. My mother was the matriarch of our family's branch until she died. She was called "Big Mamma" by her kids, and by their kids.

If you extrapolate my outline, you can easily see that a large family mitigated the facts of my partent's growing old. In fact, they functioned more like grandparents do in many other families. Errant nephews and nieces stayed with us when they had home-troubles, for example. Mom was usually the arbitrator of certain feuds, although some factions in our family were irreconcilable, so our family gatherings tended to be selective: a Christmas Group gathering and a Thanksgiving Group gathering had different flavors of the clan present. Complicating our situation was the fact that, until I was about nine years old, we moved around a lot.

I didn't miss my father's presence as much as I might have because of all the brothers and sisters. My actual uncles were at the grand parent level.

When I read your essay I was struck by your comparative isolation, as far as families go. As others have noted, the option to have children requires snowflakey details to the extent that actual advice is sort of tricky. One thing I saw in the responses was the suggestion that you don't make the decision to become pregnant while using the ticking clock as your reference. Your situation seems to be in a state of flux. The presence of children do not calm the waters of ones life. They do the opposite. They are an energy sink, and despite all your carefully laid plans they will take you into a future you weren't prepared for. That's not necessarily bad, but kids open doors to rooms in your life you didn't know existed. They also close doors to places you thought you might go. It's not a fair trade off, and the devil, as they say, is in the details.

In my case a huge extended family helped to spread the joy around. For the other part, it's rare to be able to predict when your parents will die, so it's hard to realistically use your age as a metric in that respect. However, I wish my parents would have lived long enough for me to have told them that hindsight had revealed to me that they weren't the dopes I thought they were when I was a teen-ager. Even as a young man in my twenties and early thirties I had not yet gained the perspective I now have, about how their lives must have been, as they grew up in the years before and during the Great Depression and two world wars.

My own son just celebrated his 29th birthday. I was nearly forty when he was born. I would truly like to have more years to enjoy his company than I know I will get, and my only consolation in that respect is that once I die the clock stops for me. That's grim fodder I guess, but you take what you can get.

Anyhow, the clock never will be your friend. Don't let it control your issues now. If you and your new fellow want to share your lives with children--fine. It's not a thing to attempt until after you and he have worked out the wrinkles in your relationship. It's good to realize that being a biological mother is not the only wondrous aspect of parenthood available to you two.

Aside from whatever you can infer from my own biographic sketch, I offer the following advice. Get your feet back on the ground and adjust to your new perception of who you are. You are beginning a new phase of life. Things are not the same. Please accept my notion that wanting to have children by "that man" has not very much to do with children, and a lot to do with the wistful renegotiation of your past.

You can decide later on where children will fit into your new life.
posted by mule98J at 1:25 PM on November 21, 2013 [8 favorites]

In general the way I think about it is that younger parents have the advantage of energy and older parents have the advantage of maturity and financial stability. So both have advantages and disadvantages. If you want to have a baby with this guy, and you think he'd be a great dad, and you think your financial situation would be stable, then why not do it. I'm an older dad and most people who know me think I'm one of the best dads they've ever known. Because I enjoy parenting, I find energy for it even though I'm not a young dad. I doubt if your child's father died when your child was 20 the child would curse either one of your for having him/her. That just seems unlikely, especially if you are good parents.

He will bring some parenting experience to the table, which is good, and at the same time he will probably be relaxed about parenting, which means he will probably have little problem about giving you space and freedom to develop your own parenting style.

Probably a more important question is whether you are sure you can have a good marriage with this particular person (regardless of his age).
posted by Dansaman at 1:40 PM on November 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

mr. crankylex is 40. His mother was 31 and his father was 50 when he was born. His father has been dead almost 15 years now. On the other hand, my mother was 27 and my father was 32 when I was born; I'm now 36 and my mom died three weeks ago.

While any of us could drop dead at any time, you really need to think about how you would handle life not only as a single parent due to the death of your spouse, but also about potentially raising a child while dealing with a suddenly aging partner. When I was 25 I became involved with a man 25 years my senior. He had two sons who were around my age. We initially talked about having kids together, but he eventually came to the conclusion that he did not want to parent again and I left him because I wasn't ready to have my reproductive choices dictated by someone else.

Like many others here, I really think that you need to deal with the ending of your marriage first before considering anything having to do with this man.
posted by crankylex at 2:10 PM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

My Mom had her last child in her early 40s, and my Dad was in his 50s. My brother helped both my parents feel younger, and more active. My Dad died when my brother was 10. That sucked, but people die even younger sometimes, leaving young children. That's what life insurance is for. Friends adopted in their mid-40s, and she is older than most of the other Moms, which is a bit isolating, but they are active parents, and their daughter is healthy and happy. It's not easy, may not be what you expect, but I love being a parent, and hope you get the opportunity.
posted by theora55 at 2:36 PM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

My dad was 50 and my mom was 33 when they both married for the first time. My sibling and I came along within 4 years. Even being 37 when my mom had me was considered a fair bit older at the time. My dad was more like a grandfather in his outlook and health and the generation gap was substantial. Do know that there are health risks for a baby with an older father so I would investigate that thoroughly before deciding.

I can't say I enjoyed having an older father. I always felt different from my peers because my family was different for having older parents and other reasons as well. Unfortunately my dad wasn't the healthiest person emotionally so it was not the easiest childhood. He was quite authoritarian. I think if my dad had been healthier emotionally his age wouldn't have been as big a deal but some of his being authoritarian was because of his generation. Of course there is their physical health to consider as well. Also, I only had one set of living grandparents.

Honestly, I'd think long and hard if this is a good idea or not. The thing is you aren't even divorced yet. Your situation is already complicated. I'm not sure further complicating it with children is a good idea.
posted by wildflower at 12:00 AM on November 22, 2013

Marrying an old man is quite different from growing old together with a man. Have you never heard of being an old man's nurse? Consider having a baby/young child who takes all of your time and energy AND at the same time having the care of an aged husband suffering the never-ending illnesses and loss of function of old age. You really need to think carefully about getting involved with a man old enough to be your father.
posted by Cranberry at 1:40 AM on November 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

My partner's dad was in his early sixties when he died (my partner was 3). My ex's parents had kids in their mid-20s, and his dad died when he was 16. Life's a crapshoot.
posted by terretu at 2:35 AM on November 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

Aside from Ruthless Bunny's excellent points, I can tell you that my oldest was born when I was 33, and my youngest when I was 36. I am in an area of the country where that is pretty typical, and most of their friends' parents are within +-5years of my age. But I plan to actively encourage them to have kids a little earlier than I did. I do know people who are having kids in their late thirties and early forties, but man, I get tired just thinking about it.

And do not underestimate the difficulty and grief involved in fertility problems and dealing with babies with serious health problems and worst case scenario, infant death. Family members went through that recently, and it was devastating to them personally, and almost devastating to their marriage. It is unthinkably difficult. "I would love a special needs kid just the same" is one thing. Living in the hospital for months at a time, disagreeing about medical interventions before or after the birth, realizing that you will have to make plans for care for a disabled child for the rest of his/her life after you die, realizing that you will be bankrupt by medical expenses, and then watching your child die. Obviously, older/elderly parents are not the only, or perhaps even the primary risk factor for a "special needs kid." Obviously, there are many happy families who are thriving with their special needs kids. But it is not a risk that someone should undertake lightly. Any decision you make based on "we would love them as much" should be an informed decision, understanding your collective risk factors, and how dealing with medical problems would work in your life. Because it might be so life-changing that you would not even recognize your life afterwards.
posted by instamatic at 6:51 AM on November 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

Sorry, I feel like my post may have come off as "never have kids past the 'normal' childbearing age." What I was trying to say instead was, "don't be glib about the potential difficulties of dealing with infertility and health problems."
posted by instamatic at 6:55 AM on November 22, 2013

I can't understand only wanting to have kids if it's with this guy. (Perhaps I'm misreading, but that's what I took away from your post.) If you only want to have kids with him, then you don't really want to have kids. Try to separate the two. If you want to have kids, you need to get going on it soon, and think of it as a solo venture. IF things work out with him, fine, but if not, you either want kids or you don't, apart from how you feel about him.

I had my son fairly late (but 20 years younger than your guy) and as an older parent, you would most likely be far more mature and patient than your average twenty year old, but you would likely be tired as hell. Parenting in your late 30s is doable, of course, but physically challenging for many people. I cannot fathom parenting with someone in their late 50s -- I'm guessing it would be emotionally better than being a single parent, but only somewhat better physically.

If you wouldn't be willing to be a single parent, you shouldn't be thinking about having a kid with this guy.
posted by ravioli at 1:53 PM on November 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Here's another angle on what I said above. When I took up with an older man at age 27, I had many years ahead of me in which I reserved the right to change my mind about children and leave him (to put it coldly). Now, at 36, I am nearing the end of that window. But we have a lot of good years behind us to confirm that I have made/am making the right decision.

If you start an (unencumbered) relationship with him at (say) age 38, you have a lot less time to change your mind than I have had. If HE changes his mind and/or makes a final decision when you are 40, you have many fewer options than I did at, say, 29, 2 years into my "age gap relationship."

Do the soul-searching before you take up with him again, I suggest. There's a thread running through the modern/progressive/whatever discussion of reproduction that implies that the woman is in the driver's seat WRT her reproductive plans. But even your best-case scenario is giving him a whole lot of control over your life outcomes.

Not that roomthreeseventeen and I are final authorities on anything, perish the thought, but nine years of this has shown me that many people my age have IDEAS on relating to a man around 60, but very, very few have actually done it. So this is just a word of caution from someone who really has been there.
posted by skbw at 11:10 AM on November 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

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