Positive Parenting Newsfeed—a Child Trends Project—is Supported by the National Science Foundation

Older Parents = Better Behaved Kids?

older parent

ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire)—Americans are waiting longer to have kids. Back in the 1970s, the average age of first-time moms was 21. Today, it’s 26. In 1972, the average age of fathers of newborns in the United States was 27. Now, it’s closer to 31. A new study suggests having kids at an older age may have some benefits.

Is it better to have your kids when you’re older or younger? A study out of the Netherlands analyzed problem behaviors from more than 32,000 kids ages 10-12. The problem behavior was rated by fathers, mothers, teachers, and the children themselves. The researchers found that older-than-average-age parents tended to have children with fewer externalizing behavior problems, such as aggression. The study’s authors did note that older parents generally tend to have more resources and a higher education but found that children’s behaviors are not solely due to their parent’s income level.

This report comes after several other studies that found a link between older fathers and increased risk for autism and schizophrenia in their children, whereas older mothers are more prone to issues during pregnancy. The Netherlands study suggests that parents shouldn’t worry about increased risk of everyday externalizing behavior problems if they choose to have kids later in life.

The study found no link between the parents’ age and children’s internalizing behavior problems, such as anxiety and depression.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Milvionne Chery, Writer; Roque Correa, Editor.

Produced by Child Trends News Service in partnership with Ivanhoe Broadcast News and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. 

(Sources: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/01/14/462816458/average-age-of-first-time-moms-keeps-climbing-in-the-u-s, https://www.srcd.org/news/study-children-born-older-parents-tend-have-fewer-behavior-problemshttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5299396/)

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