Kids After 40 and 50 - A Child's Perspective

I was born in 1985. My mom and dad had me late in their lives when being older parents were not so cool and acceptable. My mom was 39 (okay...so not quite 40), but my dad was 51. They were both divorcees and each had a daughter from a previous marriage. My oldest half-sister is currently in her early fifties and she has a daughter that is the same age as me! My second oldest half-sister is in her late thirties and has three children all under the age of 13.

With my mom as a toddler
With my mom as a toddler

When I was little, I didn't really notice that my parents were "different" from anyone else's. They were both relatively healthy. We didn't have a lot of money, but we got by. We went on trips and ate out to restaurants. I was daddy's little girl. =) I think the first time that I really noticed that my parents were "different" was around the age of 8 or 9. I was watching television with my cousin and the rest of the family when this program about aging came on. Out of the blue, my cousin asked me how I felt about having such old parents. Up until that point, I hadn't even thought about how old my parents were, let alone about them getting old.

After that, I went through a phase of being exceedingly clingy to my parents. I would cry and get upset whenever one of them left for work or the house without me. I would follow them around the house, making sure they weren't out of my sight in case they disappeared and never came back. Just like how some children feel like their parents would divorce and leave them, I felt like they were going to suddenly get old and pass away without me knowing. I distinctly remember my parents bringing me to the doctor to see what they could do about my fears. I don't even remember when or how I got over my feat, but I eventually did.

Throughout my late childhood and early teens, I would get flashes of this irrational fear about my parents dying. Of course, everybody dies, but I felt like they were going to die much sooner because of their age.

I'm now 26 and I recently got married. I will be lying if I said my parents' age didn't bother me anymore. My dad is now 77 and my mom is 66. I'm so thankful my parents are in relatively good health. My dad has had some minor complications with diabetes, kidney stones and cataracts, but he is keeping his conditions under control and otherwise, is in good health.

Did I say how thankful I am about my parents in good health? I can't imagine what I would do if I were an only child, having to take care of elder parents with complicated medical conditions. I know many children (albeit in their forties or fifties) who provide part-time or full-time parent caregiver services, but how will I provide that when I haven't even started my own family? And when I'm also the main breadwinner between me and my husband (another growing trend...)? There are only so many hours in a day!

My dad also had some unexplainable stomach pains earlier this year and I just kept thinking to myself, would my dad even see my children grow up? Would he even be around to see my firstborn? I feel like I'm still too young to have kids, so I'm thinking maybe I'll start trying in about three or four years, but by that time my dad would be 80 or 81.

Don't get me wrong. I don't regret anything or wish that things were different. My parents are my parents and I love them dearly. Whether they were 21 or 51 when they had me, I would love them all the same. I just ask that people who are thinking of having children later on in life to think about how this not only impacts yourselves but how it can really impact your children as well. Everybody's case is different, and maybe my circumstances were more extraordinary than others. Regardless, just use your judgement and keep healthy (you owe it to yourself and your family!).


Elaine Li

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