Do You Regret That Your Parents Were over 40 When They Had You?

Updated on October 21, 2019
J.R. asks from Indianapolis, IN
18 answers

There are lots of articles online about over 40 pregnancies. Most are written about first time parents (I already have 2) or from people who are still in the thick of the baby years (basically they are still in their 40s and writing about it). I don't see a lot of perspective from moms who are 80 with a 40 year old, etc. So if you had babies in your 40s who are now grown or if you are a child of an older parent, I'd love your perspective on things. We've been debating a 3rd, but at 41, I am terrified to pull the trigger. However, I also feel so sad to think we won't have our 3rd. Am I crazy for even considering this? Being almost 60 when she graduates. Possibly being a 70 year old grandma of baby grandkids. Making a kid that will possibly be trying to take care of an elderly parent in her 30s while raising a young family. I feel guilty even thinking about it.

Editing to add: 1st: I have aging parents. I'm not expecting to have to pay for their retirement or keep them in my home and care for them when they are failing health wise. But I still will be there for them and have cares and responsibilities that arise from having aging parents and it is one thing to have those in your 40s or 50s with older kids and another entirely in your 20s or 30s with a young family. 2nd: I know there are a lot of factors out of my control and that we have no idea if we'll get terminal cancer at 20, struck by a bus at 40, or live to the ripe old age of 100. So I am just going with averages, which means around 80. 3rd: I do feel a bit selfish for even thinking about it, but ever since I had my second I just have this feeling that we are missing someone and I can't shake it. But perhaps I just need to come to grips with my own fertility coming to an end and be ok. Women in my family have historically been able to naturally conceive and give birth into their mid 40s, so I'm, pretty certain if I try to get pregnant, it will not be an issue. I am just looking for some perspective from those who have lived it on one end or the other.

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answers from Washington DC on

Welcome to mamapedia - J.

I don't regret being born...and my parents were in their mid and late 20s when I was born.

I had my first son in my mid-30s. He's not a regret. I'm still active with him and his brother.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

You’re speaking about this hypothetical child as if it would be an *only* child. (Also, as if it would be a girl.) But you say you already have two! So, why all the worry about “caring for aging parents”, etc etc? Hypothetical child can rely on his/her older siblings.

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answers from Dallas on

I had my daughter when I was 33. She is 24. No regrets.

I never had the urge for more babies because I felt complete and I was very happy with my marriage and my life.

My hysterectomy was at age 40 and I never regretted it, I had more energy to give to my family and I felt great.

I do not expect my daughter to take care of me as I age. Unfortunately my husband suddenly died of a heart attack at age 60 4 years ago. We had never intended for our child to care for us and I am set up so she will not have that concern as she ages and she has her own family.

My own parents are 77 and 79 and have been divorced since I was 12. My dad at 79 is much healthier then my mom at age 77. My mom expects my brother and I to gather around her and visit all the time. She is unhappy now because that just does not happen as we both have our own families and I am a plane ticket away. She grew older thinking she would be worshiped in some way and I didn't have my child in order to make me feel powerful and superior.

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answers from Miami on

My mother was 43 when she had me, dad was 52. I don't regret anything, the only issue I had was a generational one where they seemed to be very strict and old-school about their parenting. Kids my age whose parents didn't share such a large gap with them were more...permissive and understanding, allowing them more freedom. My parents were very black and white and would say that is why other kids were so messed up, because their parents were young hippies that allowed anything and everything, including drug use, due to having grown up in that generation. I personally attribute it to cultural differences (I am a first generation American) rather than age, but, that was pretty much my issue when growing up, wishing my parents were more relaxed with things like curfews and dating, in comparison with my classmates, if you want to call that a regret.

When I was younger, I did have a kid make a snarky comment about my white-haired father looking more like a grandfather than a father, but, in my dad's defense, he did have grey hair at an early age, as did I (in our 20s), and my sister, so I probably would have gotten a similar comment had he been a younger dad. I just shrugged it off and moved on. I am thankful I was exposed to music and styles of other eras, I think that is why I am more open-minded musically and attracted to history and things of the past than my peers. I don't think I would have been exposed to things like the Benny Goodman Orchestra, the twist, Robert Redford, Audrey Hepburn, Elvis, etc., had my parents been younger and past that style of music and attire. I also grew up with lovely musicals like My Fair Lady, South Pacific and other programs a younger parent would probably not have been watching, or exposing their child to. I have a love of all vintage things.

Personally, I find it super odd to find grandmas at the age of 40, I find it funny that you consider being a 70-year-old grandmother to be unconventional, as I feel that is quite a normal age to be a grandparent. I really hope I don't end up being one of those young grandmas, it just looks so weird to have a 5-year-old calling a bubbly, energetic, hip, sexy woman that could pass as their mother "grandma." I never met my grandparents, by the way, they were dead by the time I was born for the most lived until I was 4, but she was out of the country so I never met her. Despite this, I have grown up just fine. I guess it might have been nice to have grandparents, but I grew up never wanting for anything so I didn't need anyone to spoil me, and I guess you cannot miss what you've never had.

PS: My dad died in his 80s, I was in my mid-30s. My mother is 81 and still around. They never needed me to care for them, they were probably as independent, if not more so, than someone in their 60s, going for walks, planting gardens, driving around, paying their bills, etc. I have friends whose parents are younger and are sickly and require care. You see people in their 40s with terminal cancer, who's to say that someone's age determines whether or not their offspring will need to take care of them? Look at Queen Elizabeth, in her 90s and still going and look at someone like Patrick Swayze, fit, and yet dead at 57.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Tony Randall was 77 when he became a father and he died when his oldest child was 8 yrs old.
People who have kids in their 40s are facing funding retirement and college at the same time and at least according to our financial planner - SO MANY really do not plan that out well at all.

While some people can get pregnant after 40 not everyone can.
There are plenty of animals that have offspring right up until they die.
Besides humans only short-finned pilot whales, and killer whales go through menopause.
In all three species, females lose the ability to have children, but continue living for decades after.
Having and raising kids is a very special time but there's more to life after that time is over.
It's good to be over baby fever, diapers and daycare costs.
Having a baby in your 40's means you are going through menopause when they are going through puberty.
You are exploring being sad about not having another child and that's fine but you should give a think about the pluses of being done with it and give it equal consideration.
If you are determined to be miserable it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.

On the other end of the spectrum my aunt became a grandma when she was 32.
Think about that.
She was 16 when she had her first and her daughter was 16 when she had HER first.
Coincidentally Aunty was pregnant with twins at the time and her twins were born a week after her grandchild was born.
Aunty ended up having 8 kids and it wore her out.
She passed away at 61 from complications with diabetes and heart issues.

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answers from New York on

My father was 36 when I was born, so not all that far off of 40. He has always been very active and I never considered him an "older" dad. He will turn 90 in January and is still quite sharp despite a few recent health setbacks. I have a friend whose mother was 40 when she had him and, again, she's still going strong and very with it at almost 96. As with everyone in my age group (50s - yikes!), we all worry about our parents and their various age-related issues, but we had relatively care-free 20s and 30s. I had my own son when I was almost 41 and, despite a major health scare a couple years back, I feel like I've been keeping up with the younger moms pretty well. You never know what hand you're going to get in life - you could live to 100 with relatively few problems or you could be hit with an incurable disease at 20. If you really want to have a third, go for it - I would just recommend getting the amnio to rule out any serious issues. And don't wait too much longer. I had no problem getting pregnant at 40 but couldn't do it at 43. Good luck!

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answers from Abilene on

I had my daughter at 36 and son at 40. I was extremely high risk due to a blood disorder and had 5 miscarriages leading up to them. I didn’t expect either pregnancy. Thought my daughter was a UTI. 🤣

I can tell you a huge difference between having one at 36 vs. 40 was stamina. I was on complete bed rest with my daughter from 6 weeks until delivery. Not the case with my son.

Fast forward and my daughter is 20, son 16. My son has said on many occasions that he’s glad we are his parents. He appreciates we are more laid back than a lot of his friend’s parents. I think one difference is we don’t sweat a lot of “small stuff”. Even from raising my daughter in her teens to my son, we’ve recognized some stuff we were more adamant about with her really wasn’t that big of a deal.

I am grateful to have had my kids when I did. I had had lots of time to be young and carefree, we are more financially set, and my temperament is much better (I was more hot tempered as my younger self).

I do make it a point to always be available for my son even if I’m tired. He doesn’t have his license (working on his driving hours) so I am still chauffeur and I am enjoying it because I know from my daughter that when he’s legal to go by himself that will be the end of that chapter.

I wouldn’t change a thing. I was “advanced maternal age” (on my chart). I told my mom I finally got to be advanced in something. My mom had all of her kids in her 20’s as did my sister. Both were grandmothers very young (38 and 44). Sometimes I think it would be nice to be a young grandmother. It just wasn’t in the cards for me.

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answers from San Francisco on

For me, the biggest questions when deciding to have a child were 1) can you afford it and 2) are you prepared to have a human being that may have a disability and/or need life long care?
I had my third at 30 and I was fully prepared at that time to answer yes to both questions.
At 40 I don't think I would have had the energy.
At 50 I KNOW I don't have the energy.
Pretty much up to you and what you're willing to take on and give up (a somewhat youthful retirement, travel, etc.)
Your kids will love you no matter what so this is really about what YOU want to risk and take on. And of course don't forget how a new child will affect your existing children.

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answers from Chicago on

My mom was 45, dad 51 when I was born. I always enjoyed a really close relationship with them, and they often commented on how much they enjoyed having a child later in life (I also have a much older brother), that it kept them young. They probably weren't as physically active as some of my friends' parents, we enjoyed board games, museums, movies, concerts and watching baseball more than bike rides and playing baseball, which became things I did with other families. I think they set a great example for me of staying active throughout their lives. We were generally more active in enjoying everything our city had to offer than most of my peers, maybe because they were very conscious about parenting at a more advanced age? I’m not sure, I do know that my friends all loved my parents and considered me lucky.

The downside was that I was helping aging parents at a younger age than most of my peers, and lost them at a younger age. As a child, I did have some concerns about this, and sometimes felt weird when people who didn’t know us asked me if they were my grandparents. In retrospect I feel like the pros outweighed the cons, and am very grateful for my life.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

I’ll put this in a sibling perspective. My mom had a baby when she was 40 (surprise pregnancy) after having 3 children in her 20’s. She is now in her mid 80’s. Her eldest child is deceased.

The surprise baby is now in her 40’s. She is as active in looking after my mom as I am. I know my mom is grateful for her now at her age.

The only thing that I would say about the age thing for a pregnancy at and after 40 is that my mom was more physically and emotionally tired than she was in her 20’s when it came to rearing this child. She let her get away with more than she did with us, and my sister was a handful as a teen.

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answers from Tampa on

lol I am sorry I couldn’t stop laughing! ( your post made me remember in Fl when seeing a horrid dr I saw on my chart “ geriatric mom/pregnancy! Lol )

We have 4 kids. 2 before 35 and 2 after. I was 42 when we had our last. And honestly my best pregnancy.( And have been entertaining a thought of 5th. )

In fact I flew to NY from Florida since I absolutely love my dr. Flew from 2 month pregnant-till 38 weeks .. and to add drove myself to and from airport renters a car saw dr and same day flew back. We drove up to NY to have him.. few days after c section we drove home.

My point is if you are healthy, take care of yourself I don’t see a big deal having kids after 40. Now we did genetic testing .. that to me would be a bigger problem. ( me creating life and after we pass expect my children to take care of them)

People are living much longer now, we are aware more than ever what is a heather, make better choices and honestly drugs and treatments have gotten better. You can now do genetic testing via blood-phenomenal!

Now kids taking care of me.. yes I expect them to visit. May it be a nursing home or me getting an aid in my home but their b*tts are coming to see me!
Financially no, we have a nice retirement fund, we invested in Realestate and so on. That falls on parents to plan and not be a burden on their kids.

And honestly I think best parents are older. You have done partying in the 20s, set a career in the 30s stabilized and started a family ( same 30s). You have more knowledge as older parents, more fund ( yes it costs $$) to spend on nicer things, bigger house, cars, sports are expensive, food vacations etc.

If you and hubby can -I say go for it. Go to your dr make sure all is well and start taking prenatals. Lots of luck!

Ps that actress had a beautiful and healthy baby girl at 54 or 55( Bridgitte Neilson. -she did cobra with Stallone)

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answers from New York on

My husband and I sort of faced this question when we decided to adopt. How old was the oldest child we were willing to bring to our forever family, based on what age did we feel that we didn't want to be actively parenting anymore (you are always a parent - no matter the age of your children). For me, I wanted to be done at 50 with active parenting. All kids graduated from high school. It was close, but I made it. I was actively parenting for well over 30 years when the last kid graduated high school and I'm glad that I decided on a hard limit that I could live with (hubby is older than I am and we wanted to also make sure that he was done actively parenting before retirement).

I can't imagine raising kids while facing retirement and social security. I also worried that if I actively parented into my 60s, would I get done only to have to take care of my aging parents - effectively making me a caretaker of others for nearly my entire life. Additionally, both my husband and I were diagnosed with cancer within about 18 months of each other. Thank goodness we don't have babies that we have to deal with on top of that. No, I couldn't do it.

It's different when you are looking at starting a family later in life, I'm sure - vs having kids while younger and again while older. I will say that while many folks are more financially prepared when they are older, you just don't have the same energy to parent. Even my daughter who just had her 2nd baby 5 years after her first says she feels way more tired with #2 and attributes it to being older than when she had her first. And that is another thing to consider - adding another child when you are older. Two kids is three times the work, but 3 kids is 5 times the work (seriously).

Good luck no matter what you decide - this is definitely a personal decision only you and your husband can make (speaking of which, funny you didn't mention where he stood on this issue?)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

there are no perfect solutions.

i got pregnant in my early 40s. after we got over the shock, we decided to carry on and were starting to get pretty excited about it when i miscarried. i was certainly concerned, but hardly 'terrified.' is that just some internet hyperbole or an accurate description of your feelings?

because if you really do feel terror at the prospect, i suggest you desist. late in life parenting is not for the faint of heart.

there are pros and cons to this, as to everything. you have less energy and flexibility as an older mother. but you also have more patience, experience, and frankly, money.

a feeling that you're 'missing something' isn't a good reason to have another baby. we all 'miss something'. that's what choices are about. you pick one way, you give up what would have been. understanding this is part of growing up.

i suggest you face the terror and waffling head-on and make a responsible, adult decision based on facts and most-likely scenarios, and less on unfounded fears and vague longings.


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answers from Boston on

This is just my opinion. My parents had me when my dad was 42 and my mom 37. I always had probably the oldest parents of my friends. Fast forward years and I’m one of the few who still has both parents living. My parents always looked way younger than their ages and now have lived way longer than average. So you never know. If people aren’t lucky enough to find a mate and have kids much before 40, I understand going ahead and having 2. A sibling isn’t necessary but I understand the desire to give children at least one sibling. Past that I don’t think it’s all worth the risk. I don’t even really think at most ages having 3 is worth the risk. Planet is over populated already and just the more kids, odds are something will go wrong. So two healthy kids to me is a win. Older parents do see an increased risk of issues with the child. So I’d not push that. Add in odds of not making it till they’re older themselves etc and again to me, not worth the risk and starts to get selfish. I do think finances come into play though. If you’re really wealthy so can afford years in a senior living facility, then you won’t be a burden. But to more directly answer your question, no. I’ve never regretted my parents’ ages but they are uncommonly healthy and financially very comfortable. I did regret some that despite their health, they couldn’t help with my kids much at all. That was just too much for them. So I envy people with parents who are active grandparents to their kids.

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answers from Boston on

I think there are a million factors why people are good parents, average parents, or terrible parents. There are also a million factors why people die at different ages or face medical challenges at any age.

I thought my parents were ancient, because "in those days" people had children in their 20s. Mine didn't. But I realized, after I matured, that they brought a great deal of experience and wisdom to their parenting. My father died young (69) and my mother spent 5 years caring for him through cancer treatments. Yet my mother died this past summer at nearly 99. She was active and adventurous until the last few years, needing very little care until Alzheimer's took over. My husband's parents were even older when they adopted him, and he's forever grateful that they didn't worry about the ages of their kids' friends.

What I think you have roiling in your mind are the contradictions of feeling "terrified" (a very bad sign) and sadness that "we won't have our 3rd" (a very bad sign if you don't resolve it). You have to decide when your family is complete, and not make it a thing about aging well or poorly. Giving up our fertility (voluntarily, involuntarily or biologically) is a transition for many of us, and I think you should get your feelings about that sorted out with a professional who is objective and who can help you delve into your concerns, fears and desires. Whatever your choice, you need to feel complete and whole about it.

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answers from Atlanta on

Everyone is different. We waited 10 years before we had kids. I was in my 30s for all 4 of them.

You need to do what's right for YOUR family and situation. What happened to US isn't what will happen to you.

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answers from Portland on

We were older when we had kids - much older than our youngest's peers' parents. My husband could pass for a very young fit grandad.

My parents were the oldest of my friends' parents - always. I was the youngest of big family.

I was exposed (like Natalie) to different music, books, shows, culture ... also different background. Personally, I think it set me apart - and then my mom was widowed early - so again, set apart a bit. Kids deal with it.

I am thankful I was born .. :)

I think my youngest is glad she was. I think if you're not sure that's a good indication it's not a great idea. I was as sure about our last as I was my first. I think people who are on the fence are not happy with something in their lives (like is something missing?) and a child won't always fill it. Personally. It shouldn't be a question really. It should feel as it did with your first.

Or it did for me.

We have dealt with retirement homes etc. as a family with young kids and you manage. Your kids will have siblings, so it doesn't all fall to one child for most people and if it does (usually one that lives closest) - just make sure you have things arranged. It's not as big a deal as you think if you make arrangements. There are so many options and you can decide to not have your children as caregivers anyhow. I want my kids to be my adult kids - not my nurses/caregivers. That's something you decide with your plans.

That's just been my experience. I don't know if that helps.

I have a good friend who is older wondering if she should have a baby. She decided no in the end. She was on the fence. If your heart is telling you to - and you're just anxious, and need to plan - then plan and see how you feel. I do think you have to make sure you can make it happen. However, life does throw you curve balls. My childhood was full of them, as has been our family's experience - and you can only plan so much. Strong families get through stuff - so .. I think the answer is it depends on the family. Age really shouldn't matter that much :)

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answers from Chicago on

I haven't read the other answers but I will say what I think now. I wanted desperately to have children with my husband and well into the forties and possibly fifty plus if it had ever been a miraculous possible and I got uterine cancer and that chance was totally taken from me. And the night I had my operation and my uterus was taken out I had been placed in a hospital ward where they were delivering babies all night long. Of course the same night I would never be able to have any more. So I say this, if you can have more children and you want them-oh gosh do it!!! Because you never know what might else might happen. We just cannot predict the future.

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