40 Ways Raising Young Kids Is Better in Your 40s
For starters, it makes you feel young again!
No matter what your age, parenthood is one benchmark that guarantees you'll churn through every neurological nuance you can possibly imagine—including joy, pain, pride, frustration, stress, patience, howdidthecargetscratched, you name it. Because so many factors influence the development of kids—and your life as a parent—it would be unfair to say that a certain age group has it better or worse when it comes to steering the familial ship. However, one might argue that raising young kids while in your 40s does provide at least a few advantages. Here they are. And for more on the joys of parenthood, don't miss these 40 Lies Kids Say That Parents Always Fall For.
Maybe Baby Will Be an Einstein
A study published in the journal Translation Psychiatry found that kids born to older men are more likely to have a higher IQ. The researchers did this by creating a "geek index"—using a variety of factors like online test scores, intelligence tests, social skills, and more. The researchers speculated that there may some genetic factors in older parents that contribute to the smartness in offspring. Who knew?! And if you're ready to test your own brilliance, check out these 50 Amazing Riddles Only Geniuses Can Solve!
It Keeps You from Getting Too Full of Yourself
Make it into your 40s only worrying about you, your career, and what mountain you're going to climb on Saturday has a way of, well, reinforcing the fact that you live your life with your own rules. Cleaning barely digested pea puree from a wall and the side of your cheek reminds you that the opposite is true.
It Makes You Feel Young Again
No matter our age, we all have the urge to play, to run, to explore, to feel like it did when we were 10. But we also get so wrapped up in the ruggedness and stressors of life that we dismiss the value of the in-the-moment freedom that kids feel when they climb, swing, and spin. Your daily trips to playground don't have to be just for watching; they can be for playing along. And for some more great parenting advice—regardless of your age—here are 40 Parenting Hacks for Raising an Amazing Kid.
You Might Live Longer
Cruciferous vegetables aren't the only thing that will get you close to triple digits. A Harvard study found that there is a relationship between children born to older parents and a longer lifespan. Another study found that women who gave birth after 40 were four times likely to live past the age 100. (No word on how much missed teenage curfews will cut that number up.)
You'll Expand Your Social Networks
Kids + friends + friends' parents = new wine buddy?
You'll Expand Your Social Networks, Part 2
You'll learn way more about face filters than you ever wanted to.
You Will Treat the Small Moments as Big Ones
According to the Better Parenting Institute, younger parents can often get caught up in major career-stepping stages of life, and that means they may be less in tune to the nuances of day-to-day life—the funny thing a toddler said about spaghetti, the joy on her face when she sees a puppy. Older parents can tend to be more in tune and reflective about the little moments, which means that you'll better appreciate the little stuff—and you'll smile more and sneer less when you're watching Frozen for the 493rd time.
For more ways to create an amazing family environment, here are 40 Fun Ways to Bond with Your Teenage Kids.
You're Better at Mastering One of the Hardest Things About Parenting
Parenting will test your patience in ways you never knew it would ("why exactly would you pour juice in your ear?"). And your nerves will be tested not only from what your kids do, but also what others do—including kids, teachers, and Little League umpires.
As an older parent, you may be better equipped to handle all of those tests. A Danish study found that older parents had more patience, which was linked to better mental-health outcomes for kids later in life. And for more on getting older, here are 40 Ways Your Priorities Should Change After 40.
You'll Be Smarter for It, Too
Women who have children after 40 were found to better have brain function—memory and other cognitive skills—than younger parents, according to a USC study.
Since You're Older, Nobody Will Ask You…
To put together the class-party playlist, show proper tackling technique, or see your IG story.
You Know Balance
If you're well established in your career, you're going to feel less of the 24-7 tug that comes from our hyper-connected work worlds. That means less time feeling the stress of "having to do something or work." That means less time feeling distracted. That means less life with your eyeball laser-locked in your phone. Which means you can look your sweetie in the eyes when she asks you to brush her hair.
You Got This
Parenting involves a whole range of emotions, and often, our success as parents comes from how well we manage them—to show our kids that we're calm and cool, that we're happy and can handle life's hurdles, and that it's okay to cry when Fluffy will never be coming back.
Trouble brews when runaway-train emotions create familial angst and stress. Some research suggests that older parents are more emotionally prepared for parenting. That's important for the bigger life moments ("off to kindergarten, you can do it!") to the little ones (when your tyke publicly unveils the new word he heard from Uncle Stew).
Cash Provides Comfort
Recent data shows that it costs about a quarter-million dollars to raise a child. That's a lot of milk, tuition, and Jordans. Advantage for the older parent: Research shows that you're more likely to be more stable to handle the constant financial burden that comes with parenting.
You Don't Cave
And you thought peer pressure stopped after your first Natty Light? It can get even worse once you see what other parents are doing, saying, and buying. And it can be easy to slip in the "everyone is doing it" mode of thinking when talking about school, activities, and rules.
With well-established principles and many years removed from falling prey to peer pressure, the older parents may feel less inclined to "do what all the parents are doing" and parent with your family's mission in mind.
Your Parental Arsenal Includes More…
Stories, wisdom, perspective. They will come in handy from the moment are the kids are born. No matter how old your kids get, those lessons won't stop. Until you do.
They'll Ace Gym Class
Of course, fitness tests and dodge ball are low on our parental parenting lists. High on the list? The long-term health and well-being of our kids. The good news: One study found that children born to older mothers were more physically fit than those born to younger ones.
One of the greatest challenges of parenting is the "How am I…?" question—as in, how am I going to find time to take care of everything, how am I going to shuttle to band practice, how am I going to be in four places at once?
While everyone's circumstances are different, older parents are often better-equipped to make time choice between work, family, social, and other obligations—meaning that while you can't be in four places at once, you're better able to tell the third place that will have to wait.
Maybe that comes in the form of travel. Maybe that comes in the form of experiencing life's up and downs. Maybe that comes in the form about coming across a more diverse group of people. All of that informs your parenting—with a sense that despite how easy it is to get wrapped inside our own lives, that we need to see the lives of others.
You Know How to Talk to People
Pediatricians, teachers, parents who think their kids' stink doesn't stink.
You Know How to Ignore People
Fellow airline passengers who have never-ever-ever known the stress that comes from being responsible for the kid who's crying in 23B.
It's the Perfect Time to Show Off You
If you have kids in your 40s, there's a good chance that you've spent your off-time doing you. Runner, explorer, movie buff, museum-goer. Whatever your passion and expertise doesn't stop when you have kids. It's a lesson to them—that hobbies, pursuits, and passions are part of who we are. When you keep reinforcing who you are, you will teach them intangible lessons about how they will become who they are.
You Can Spin Some Serious Santa Stories
Years of experience and dealing with people in all facets of life gives you mastery of the fine art of knowing what harmless lies you can tell—and how to tell them.
You'll Handle Complex Situations Better
It's one thing to put a toddler in timeout for slapping his sibling. It's quite another when you may have to confront such realities as teen drinking, mental-health issues, and other serious life-changers. A Cornell University study found that the children who handle complex situations that come with teenage years are ones who come from stable and married parents (which is often associated with longevity of relationship or second marriages where the parents are more entrenched in their own values and thus older parents).
It's a Mood Booster
There's nothing wrong with traditional happiness-makers like chocolate, a walk in the woods, or watching the Patriots lose. But you've got a leg up on good moods: A study in the journal Demography found that parents between the ages of 35 and 49 had the biggest uptick of happiness (compared to parents in other age groups) between the births of their first and second child.
It's an Educational Booster
You'll spend a lot of your parenting life dealing with issues in school—grades, peers, iron-fist teachers who frustrate you, life-changing teachers who you want to hug every time you see them. You're get all of that for longer. Some data shows that kids of older mothers stay in school for more years than those of younger ones.
It's an Energy Boost
Sometimes, parenting can feel like you're a weak phone battery—constantly drained. But one study showed that older moms reported more energy than younger moms. So, there's that!
It's a Health Booster
Parental rite of passages include ear infections and monkey-bar casts. But a study of more than 30,000 British children found that children of older mothers have fewer injuries and trips to the hospital.
It's a Bank Booster
When you have kids, it's never a bad thing to make more money (see QUARTER BLEEPING MILLION DOLLARS!). Some research suggests that women who have children later in life have more potential to earn more money than their younger counterparts.
Dinner Conversations Are Better
Our job as parents isn't just to teach them about what is right and wrong, about the proper ways to tie things (shoes, bow ties), about how to look both ways. We're also here to teach them about what's happening the world. Your worldly experience means that besides talking about what your kids did in school today, you'll also talk about what happened in the world today. Your children will be better off because you did.
You Will Teach While You Play
Tag? Pffff. With your supreme savviness, you know that you can make a game out of lifelong skills. "Tommy, let's play hide and seek with the trash that's all over the kitchen."
Nobody Will Blame You if You Opt Out Of…
Cute high-pitched baby talk, getting in the bounce house, Snapchat.
You've Got Life Down
Parents in their 20s are still grappling with the realities of becoming adults themselves. Mortgages, bills, wills, taxes, insurance—it's a waterfall of life stuff that you have to navigate. You've got all of that behind you (not handling it, but learning to handle it). That lets you focus on your kids, not your chaos. Or at least your kids' chaos.
You Have the Boring Stuff Locked Down
Good health insurance, student loans paid off, no need to flex with the make and model of your car.
You Will Raise a Verbal Virtuoso
A British study found that kids with older parents have better language development than those with younger ones. That, of course, will come in handy come SAT time—and when she needs to mic-drop a troll.
You Have a Better Shot of Raising an NBA Player
Kids of older parents are taller, according to one study. No shot at NBA? At least they'll eventually be able to help you reach the flour from the top shelf.
Your Confidence Will Help
Parenting is a constant barrage of questioning yourself: Did you do the right thing? Sometimes, you'll be right, sometimes wrong, sometimes it won't make a damn bit of difference. But maybe your life experience gives you the oomph to trust your instincts and decision-making process. After all, your intent is always good—you want what's best for your children—and you have to trust that while there's always dozens of options, you're doing the best to pick the best one.
You Have No Qualms About…
Saying no when you need to, saying yes when you want to, uncorking the bottle before 5.
You Can Build Their Next Egg
Since you fully know the importance of retirement accounts (and wish you had gotten a head start), you might be in more of a position to give them lessons that will literally pay dividends—by starting a retirement savings for them or buying some stock in companies. It's a gift they won't thank you for now ("I wanted an Xbox!"), but certainly will later.
You Value Tradition
These—whether they come every night at dinner or on the holidays or on vacation—are exactly what kids will remember most.
You Value Your Traditions
And these—the favorite sweatshirt you wear, the favorite story you tell, the same old joke you tell—are exactly how kids will remember you most. And for more on the joys of parenthood, check out The 30 Funniest Pieces of Celebrity Parenting Advice.
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