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Older mothers are better mothers

Children of older moms tend to have fewer behavioral, social and emotional difficulties with their children. This may be because older moms, who are well aware of their declining fertility and the risks posed by either pregnancy or birth, are much more attendant to their children.


Research from Denmark indicates that higher maternal age also indicates higher psychosocial well-being in pregnancy, and in mom's early days after her child is born. Advantages for older mothers and their children extend all the way to school age, but then decline when the child reaches 15 years old.

"However, when estimating the consequences of the rising maternal age it's important to consider both the physical and psychosocial pros and cons," adds Professor Dion Sommer from Aarhus University, School of Business and Social Sciences (Aarhus BSS), and one of the researchers.

When today's mothers have children later in life, it is for several reasons: (1) we live longer, (2) women have more educational and career opportunities, and (3) contraception has improved. In 2015, the average pregnancy age was 30.9 years. This also means most children in the study — the work was conducted with Danish children — are born when their mother is over 30 years old. This leads to an increased proportion of children born by mothers over 40 years old. A number which has quadrupled since 1985.

The work appears in The European Journal of Developmental Psychology.

Previous studies that tracked children up until school age, indicated that children with older mothers — regardless of the parents' background, education or finances — have better language skills and fewer behavioural, social and emotional problems. However, the current study tracked children in school, finding children of older mothers still had fewer behavioural, social and emotional problems when tested at ages 7 and 11 — but again, not after age 15. Some reasons for this outcome may be that older mothers have more stable relationships, are more educated and have better access to material resources. But, when those factors are removed, older age still indicates psychological maturity.


"We know that people become more mentally flexible with age, are more tolerant of other people and thrive better emotionally themselves.

"Psychological maturity may explain why older mothers do not scold and physically discipline their children as much.
This style of parenting can contribute to a positive psychosocial environment which affects children's upbringing,"

Dion Sommer PhD, Professor, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus, Denmark


Abstract
In developed countries more women are giving birth later in life and this trend has been linked with perinatal medical risks as well as with improved psychosocial adaptation. This study examined whether older maternal age was associated with less use of sanctions and with positive child outcome at age 7, 11, and 15. A random population sample of 4741 mothers from the Danish Longitudinal Survey of Children was used. Data were obtained through face-to-face interviews and self-report questionnaires. Older maternal age was associated with less frequent use of verbal and physical sanctions towards children at age 7 and 11. At age 15 this association remained significant for verbal sanctions but not physical sanctions. Older maternal age was associated with fewer behavioral, social and emotional difficulties in children at age 7 and at age 11 but not at age 15. The associations reported were significant independently of all observed demographic and socioeconomic characteristics.

Keywords: Discipline, parenting, child behavior, strength and difficulties, maternal age

FACTS
The study of the correlation between maternal age and children's social and emotional development was carried out when the children were 7, 11 and 15 years old respectively. The results have been published in the scientific journal European Journal of Developmental Psychology.

So far, many studies have examined the correlation between education, job or marital status and older mothers, while very few have looked at the significance of age in and of itself.
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Apr 3, 2017   Fetal Timeline   Maternal Timeline   News   News Archive   



Marcia Gay Harden had her twins when she was 44 years old.
Image Credit: Pregnancy Stories By Age

 


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