Health

What's it like in a family with a big age gap between parents and kids?

Artist Janet Jackson (C) and her husband Wissam Al Mana (L) attend the Hermes Spring/Summer 2016 women"s ready-to-wear collection show in Paris, France, October 5, 2015. Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The number of women getting pregnant later in life is on the rise

Janet Jackson announced on Thursday that she was expecting her first child at 50.

While the news came as a shock to some, statistics show more women are choosing to get pregnant later in life.

The US health department reported that in 2000, 7.4 % of women had their first child at 35 or older - by 2014 the number had risen to 9.1%.

Earlier this year, the UK's Office for National Statistics reported there were 15.2 births per 1,000 women aged over 40, compared with 14.5 per 1,000 women in their teens, in England and Wales.

But the choice to have children later in life has implications for future generations. Children maybe forced to care for their parents from a young age or parents may not be able to see their own grandchildren grow up. What is it like living in a family with a big age gap between the child and the parent?


Lisa Converse, parent

I gave birth to my daughter when I was 45 years old. Her birth was natural without any reproductive assistance. Before I became pregnant with my oldest son, now 18, I had 5 miscarriages. You can image how surprised I was to become pregnant with my daughter at 44 years old.

There is some stigma with parents that have children later in life but on the whole it is becoming a norm to have children at a later stage in life.

My only regret might be that I will not be able to know my grandchildren as well as maybe a parent that had their children younger.

Sharon Lewry, parent

I had my fourth child at 41 and my fifth one at 42. I had my oldest when i was 20. The difference of being an older parent is that I found I was a lot calmer, and I didn't worry as much. I was much more laid back when it came to parenting.

I feel that having children when you are older definitely keeps you young and more active and still enjoying things as a younger person.


Ouvrielle Holmes, child

I supported my mother looking after my elderly father all through my teens and he died just before my A-levels when he was 86 and I was 18. I then spent the next 25 years looking after my mother, on and off.

I had an elderly mother to look after whilst I was also looking after my own young children and earning a living.

Whilst I adored my parents and it was wonderful knowing them so well (my father retired when I was two and was very hands on), life was stressful for them and I never had an adult to adult relationship with them.

I went straight from them looking after me to me looking after them. I would not recommend it for parents or their children.

Andrea Vespoint, child

I was a child of an older mom and dad, 43 and 48 years old respectively. I loved it. At times they were terribly old-fashioned and I wished my cousins or much older siblings were my parents. Conversely, their disconnect to my generation allowed me to be more independent and served me well as I grew up.

Their lifestyle was so different from my friends' parents that I learned so much more from them; without them explicitly teaching me anything specific. I understood recent history in a way my peers did not.

I was fortunate they lived into their 80s and they were alive for my 40th birthday. They were never my "friends" but parents should not be friends with their own kids.

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