One of my colleagues is having a difficult pregnancy at the moment. Her unborn child has one chance out of two to live, because his lungs haven’t properly developed. How sad. I just hope for her that everything will be OK. One of my friends is convinced those problems are linked with the fact we get pregnant later than our previous generation. If you ignore the example of Britney Spears’s sister who got knocked out at 16 or Lily Allen at 22, well, it’s true that women choose to have a baby at an older age. “I was hired in my office because a few female employees were out for their maternity holidays. They were all in the same range of age, from 33 to 38 year old” recalls T., 31.
When you ask people at what age did their parents have them, they would generally answer they were conceived by their parents at a much younger age than they are now. “My mom had me when she was 22. I had my first child at 32″K., 35, said. “My parents were 24 year old when I arrived in their life. I’m not ready yet to conceive my first child” M., 32, said.
Why do we get pregnant so late? Well, compared to our parents, we enter the professional life later because we follow longer study. Remember than before, women in university were a rare breed. It’s not the case anymore. Then, the evolution of the job market makes it difficult to foresee a stable life. With the multiplication of part time jobs, temporary jobs,… but also mergers of companies and the restructuring that follows, additioned to delocalization in cheap producing countries like China, the future has never seemed so gloomy for the young workers of today. We cannot hope to stay in the same company from the beginning to the end of our career like our parents did. And also, earnings can be really disappointing, as in Italy.
This financial instability makes it difficult for young people to think about raising a child (at least, for those who think). But it’s not the only factor.
We tend to marry (or not) at an older age too than our parents. Most of my friends who took the jump into marriage did that when they were 28 in average. Why? Simply because they needed a longer period to find the one. “My gyno told me that if I wanted to have a child, I would have to get myself into it as soon as I can. But for that, I have to find my prince charming first, and he hasn’t come yet” R., 32, said. Some women don’t wait to find their prince charming to conceive a child, though. Either they turn to IVF, either they choose to pick a man to get pregnant, like the character played by Juliane Moore in the Big Lebowski. But they are an exceptions.
Then, there’s also the fact that we become mature later. “I didn’t see myself having a baby at 22 like my mom did. At that age, I just finished my studies, and I didn’t feel as an adult yet” K., 34, said. “Right now, I feel more like a teenager than a complete adult. I go out a lot, and I don’t want to slow things down for a child right now” B., 28, said.
Finally, the fight for equality between men and women has brought deep changes in the women’s life, and hindered their desire to have a child. Before, women used to be housewives and depended on their husband. Now, because we work, we’re independent and we decide when we want to have a child. And this decision doesn’t come quickly.
So, when do you think it’s too late to have a child? Personally, I think this example shouldn’t be followed.