There are so very many things to say about this article and so little time to say them. But: I do think it’s valuable to discuss the reality of fertility and age-related health issues. Certainly an uptick in diagnoses of things like ADHD, autism, etc have contributed to their soaring rates, but there may also be environmental factors, including fertility treatments and older parents. And we know that chromosomal abnormalities are significantly more common in pregnancies conceived by older people. It is important to talk about all of that. At the same time, there are myriad benefits to having children later. Children of older parents tend to do better in school. Older parents tend to spend more time (and more quality time) with their kids. Children born to older parents are more likely to be raised in economically stable households with lower divorce rates. Those are all good things, and unsurprising — on average, adults make better parents than people who are barely adults, whose brains haven’t finished fully developing, who lack life experience, and who lack stability in their job, relationship and finances.
A couple of things could make this all better: First, improve social welfare systems that would help younger parents who don’t have the benefits of stability and accumulated wealth. Second, structure the workplace so that women who want to have kids earlier can do that and not risk total career derailment. Third, invest in research of fertility drugs and procedures, as well as care for children with a variety of disabilities and health issues.
I’d like to think that we could totally restructure our work environments to make them match up with our biology. But I’m not sure that’s possible. And we also can’t force women into early childbearing, especially now that women see there are many more options and that an unencumbered life can be awfully fun through your 20s. As one of childless women close to hitting 30, there is literally not a single government policy that would convince me to have a baby tomorrow. I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. I’m not sure that a two-parent multiple-children family is actually the best social model, or a model everyone should want.