If anybody ever warns you about your “biological clock ticking,” tell them to banish that phrase from their vocabulary, then show them a new Danish study that finds being an older mom isn’t only your prerogative, but also may have some pretty big social and behavioral advantages your child.
Aarhus University researchers analyzed surveys taken of 4,741 Danish moms when their kids were seven, 11, and 15. The older the moms were, the fewer emotional and behavioral problems the children had at ages seven and 11. Older women were also less likely to physically discipline their children at these ages and to scold them at all ages. They were also better at providing children with behavioral boundaries because they themselves were found to be less worried about their pregnancies and had better attitudes about becoming parents.
“We know that people become more mentally flexible with age, are more tolerant of other people, and thrive better emotionally themselves,” study author Dion Sommer said in a press release.
“This style of parenting can thereby contribute to a positive psychosocial environment which affects the children’s upbringing.” (While the press release didn’t define “older moms,” similar research women older than 35.)
It seems women recognize this: Greater emotional maturity is the number two factor females are waiting to attain before having kids, according to a recent Fertility Centers of Illinois survey.
The Danish study also found older moms were also happier during and right after their pregnancies and had more stable relationships. Plus, they were financially better off, which is the number one thing women in the Fertility Centers of Illinois survey were waiting for.
It also should be noted that starting a family at an age traditionally not considered “prime” for childbearing is getting easier thanks to options like egg freezing, embryo freezing, and IVF, and 15 percent of new moms in the U.S., 21 percent in England and Wales, and 22 percent in Australia are 35 and over. One in 25 new moms in England and Wales is over 40—a proportion that’s quadrupled over the past 30 years.
Still, women who choose to postpone having kids—or choose to not have them at all—still face a lot of judgment. But these new findings show that this decision can be smart: Waiting until you truly feel prepared is good for both you and your family.