Originally Posted by Spider AL
Ray is correct when he says that younger parents have as much time and in fact have more energy
than older parents do.
And I might add that young parents also often have the backup of their own mothers and fathers. Grandparents can be a big help when it comes to bringing up a child. When one is older, one's own parents are unlikely to be able to function as child-rearers. Hell, they may not even be alive
But there is a significant problem with teenagers having babies. The problem has nothing to do
with how much time they can spend with their child, or how much energy they have... It has to do with their lack of experience, and their lack of patience.
To be a parent of optimal quality, one must be
a: patient as a god
b: experienced enough at the game of life that one can actually teach one's kids something worthwhile
Teenagers routinely think they know it all. And to be fair, I've met some damned intelligent teenagers in my time. But the fact is that they know nothing about life, because they simply haven't had time to become good at the game yet. Only those who are excellent at the game have a right to teach
the game. And that's what a parent must be, a full-time teacher. Nothing less will do, frankly.
Bear in mind however, that as I said before, most adults don't know anything about life either
, because they're lazy good-for-nothing fools who have no interest in learning how the world really works. They pile year upon year onto their tally, but though their body may grow ancient and decrepit, their mind never really grows along with it.
Therefore teenagers should wait until they've gained some experience and patience before becoming parents. And if they NEVER gain experience nor patience... they should NEVER become parents, regardless of how old they get.
So it's not really an issue of age so much as it is an issue of worth
. Only the worthy, the moral, the studious and the wise should be allowed to spawn offspring.
Humor mode way on:
Proof that God exists: SpiderAL and I actually agree on something completely, which requires something on the order of a minor miracle.
Now what we consider to be the criteria for worthy and wise may be different, but that's another issue altogether. I've wondered occasionally why you have to have a license to drive a car but not to have kids (besides the obvious).
Actually, that's not so miraculous as just plain common sense. Kids aren't mature enough to raise kids--they're not done growing physically, and parts of the brain don't fully develop til about early 20's, so their ability to handle things in a mature fashion is greatly reduced.
We waited quite a while before having kids, mostly because I had to finish school, and it would not be fair to the child to have a parent with such divided priorities. Once we had a home and a car and we were both settled into decent jobs, then we felt like we were prepared to share our lives with children and for the responsibilities of taking care of them.
What we lost from waiting as long as we did:
a. some energy--I can't do certain things because of a blown knee, like running behind my kid's bike to teach him how to ride. However, we've just had to learn how to work smart to work around the physical limitation. We don't try to do a whole bunch of energy intensive acts in one day--we spread it out, and that works better for the kids, too.
b. the ability for our kids to know all their grandparents--Jimbo's dad died when Jimbo was a teen, and his mom was quite a bit older than my parents, so we lost her a few years back, and my daughter really is too young to remember her. Neither child was able to benefit much from her love and wisdom.
c. Starting later means also that we may not be as available health-wise for any future grandchildren.
d. we're probably going to have less money for retirement because we're going to have child expenses into our 50's.
What we gained:
1. patience--absolutely essential when you have an over-tired 2 year old who decides to lay down in the middle of the floor at a store and scream at the top of her lungs. You can either lose it yourself out of impatience, or you can recognize that you need calmly to leave the store, get the child a nap, and come back later. You have to be patient enough to deal with a child's natural immaturity, and you need to be patient enough to let them do things for themselves even if you can do it 10 times faster, because they won't learn how to do something if you do it for them all the time. Those 7 years that we waited after getting married was a huge help for both of us to learn more patience.
2. Life experience--always a help. We did a lot prior to marriage and prior to child-rearing--spending time with friends, getting college out of the way, learning new things like wild-bird watching or history re-enactment, reading, being involved in some volunteer activities, traveling to different places, and many other things that are more difficult to do when you have children. Things we learned in those activities we're able to teach to our kids--my son has learned more about wild birds than most people will ever know (though having a 3 year old who can identify about 50 different species of birds in a book or at the backyard feeder is kind of scary), and we can talk about things like conservation, habitat protection and learning how to care for animals and such. We have a much broader practical knowledge base (from cooking to basic home maintenance and so on) than those in their teens/early 20's simply because we've done that much more stuff before having kids.
3. More knowledge about child growth and development. I highly recommend a college course on it, btw, or at least reading a book on it, or best yet spending some time in a day care center or church nursery or something like that to learn how children grow and process things. Even if you don't agree with everything in the class or a book, knowing what children learn and when has been incredibly helpful for raising ours. We know what to expect by a certain time, and we know what they're not able to do at a certain time. That way, we don't have unrealistic expectations or treat them like mini-adults, which they are not.
4. We were more mature in our marriage. A friend's grandmother said one time half-jokingly that it should be a law that people be married 5 years before having kids, that way if someone's going to get divorced/split up, they usually do it before then, and kids aren't affected. In our case we had 7 years married to get to know each other and work the good and bad out before adding children into the mix. Learning about each other is essential, and it's harder to spend that time with each other when you have very young kids.
5. We were a little more stable financially--many people whose marriages that break up cite fighting over money or having money-related problems as one of the chief, if not number one, cause. Fewer fights and less stressed over money parents=better for kids.
6. We understand perfection is impossible. We're relaxed enough to go from 'going for perfect' to 'going for doing our best'.
7. We had time to watch our friends as parents and learn from their mistakes and successes.
8. While my parents can help out now with our kids, they are not going to be able to help much in a few years due to age, so we've developed a community of friends who can step in and help in emergencies (and who we likewise would help in an emergency)--as long as you have those kinds of community connections, the effect of aging parents is mitigated somewhat. It's best if you can have grandparent involvement--there were things that I learned from my grandmother that my mother would never have been able to teach me due to the nature of our relationship and my grandma's knowledge base on medical things. However, there are good substitutes of grandparents aren't around.
9. By the time we felt we were ready, we were willing to put aside other fun activities to devote the necessary time to our children. We recognize that the time spent in their lives is crucial, and we also recognize they're not going to be with us forever. So, while some things are really hard right now while they're little, we're also enjoying every stage of life that they're at. It's amazing to see them develop from the time I first felt them move in the womb and saw them on an ultrasound to the people they are now. They certainly have their moments as we all do, but they're unique and very special. We're mature enough to see them not as a burden in our lives and something that infringes on our fun, but as people we can share love with. Yes, we have to work hard, yes, there are things we can't do right now because they're in our lives, but we're enjoying having them in our lives and being part of their lives. I don't know if we would have had quite the same appreciation for all that they are if we had had our children at an earlier age.
For us, it was worth waiting before having kids. We were in a better spot emotionally and financially, and the physical issues aren't that much of a problem.