Although I’ve added some new content to this post, originally Midlife Motherhood Myths Dispelled by a Midlife Mom, the main content is still as timely and relevant as it was years ago. Why are these myths still popular?
This morning I just saw/read a Hot Celebrity Moms who gave birth in their 40s list. Halle Berry is holding firm to her spot on the list followed by Salma Hayek. I don’t understand how the myths still linger while being so far from the truth. Here are three of the most common misconceptions.
MYTH: Children born to older parents (society always seems to focus more on mom’s age than dad’s) will become orphans or have to take care of older parents.
FACT: The sad truth is a mom doesn’t have to be a certain age to become disabled, suffer a long-term sickness or death. I don’t want to recall or write about the boys and girls that I know and my daughters know who have lost wonderful 30-something moms.
I do believe that all parents, young and old, should have a plan in case they become disabled or suffer a long-term sickness. This will alleviate some of the financial burden for their children.
On a brighter note, studies show current older mothers are better educated, more stable, eat healthier, and get more exercise. Combined with love, a child soars in this environment.
Until May 2011 the best response to this myth I could offer was found in an article written in the May/June 2002 issue of AARP Modern Maturity magazine.
In this article, Richard Paulson, M.D. chief of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at the University of Southern California School of Medicine said the orphan issue was overblown and pointed to a former patient who in 1996, at age 63 became the oldest woman in the world to give birth. She was receiving help with her 5-year-old from 90 year-old mother.
In May 2011 I attended my grandfather’s 100th birthday party. I felt proud as he received honors for his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement from President Obama and other state, local and church officials. However, my proudest moment came when he danced at his 100th birthday party!
According to the finding of some experts, a 100- year old man is NOT supposed to be dancing or giving acceptance speeches. No doubt, the forerunners of these same experts would have told my grandfather that he was too old at 40 to father another child. The experts would argue that it is unfair to a child to have older parents. Children would become orphans or in their 20s have to take care of older parents.
It’s hard to say what my grandfather’s response to the experts would have been. Probably the experts would have mistaken his overall easy-nature as weakness. Yet, his response would prove most powerful 60 years later as he danced at his 100th birthday party!
MYTH: Mothers over 40 do not have the energy to attend to the needs of a baby or young children.
FACT: This misconception must have been created by someone who never was a caretaker of young children!
The average newborn or toddler will zap the energy of any mother whether she is 22 or 42. I’ve had healthy strong parents in their twenties complain about being exhausted after spending a day with their toddlers. Recently, an active teen told me how she felt “wore out” after spending 2 hours with the toddlers in the church nursery!
Let’s talk about newborns. The average newborn cries more than any new mom ever anticipates. The average newborn sleeps from 15 minutes to 2 hours before waking up for feeding.
Translation: The best scenario with the best baby. Mom gets to bed at 11:00 p.m. She is awakening at midnight by the sweet whimper of her newborn. She is awaken at 2 a.m. by the sweet whimper of her newborn. She is awaken at 4 a.m. by the crying of her newborn. Baby does not want to go back to sleep until 5a.m. You tell me what woman whether she is 25, 35, or 45 wouldn’t feel zapped after getting out of bed several times at night to feed or just to hold and comfort her crying baby?
The truth is taking care of a baby is hard work and does require lots of energy. It’s important to eat healthy and, every now and then, to allow people you trust to watch your little one for an hour or two while you take a break.
MYTH: Teenage children of older parents will be resentful or ashamed that their parents are not the same age as their peers.
FACT: The only thing you need to ease your fear about this misconception is a dose of reality. By the time children become teenagers, many will go through a stage when they resent or are ashamed of their parents. The age of their parents have little to do with the emotions of being a teenager.
For every teenager who is ashamed of his older parents I’ll show you another who is ashamed of his younger parents for other reasons.
A teenager may be ashamed because his thirty-something year old dad is not as good in playing basketball as his classmate’s dad. Or he may be ashamed his dad still drives a car from the 1980s while his classmate’s dad drives a one-of-a-kind 2020 car!
A 14-year-old girl may be ashamed because her mom is not as slim and as pretty as her best friend’s mom. Or that her mom wore out of date shoes to a Parents Day at her school.
I believe the number one fear of teenagers since the beginning of time has been the fear of being embarrassed by what their parents think, say or do.
Easing your fear about this misconception shouldn’t be difficult. Remember that most children go through rocky stages during their teens. This has nothing to do with the age of their parents. Hopefully, as an older parent, you will be able to use wisdom, love and patience to guide your child through the teen years!