Kids of older moms less likely to have behavioral problems, study finds

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New research suggests a potential upside to becoming a mom later in life

As educational and career opportunities for women proliferate, more and more women are choosing to postpone having children until later in life. As it turns out, this delayed entrance into the world of motherhood may result in better-behaved kids.

A study published recently in the European Journal of Developmental Psychology finds that older women tend to thrive in motherhood.

Armed with the psychological maturity to refrain from scolding or punishing their young children, older moms excel at creating a positive environment for their kids. As a result, their children are less likely to have behavioral, social, and emotional problems.

Mental flexibility

Researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark found that children with older mothers had fewer behavioral, social, and emotional problems at age 7 and 11, but not at age 15.

As for why children of older moms may have fewer social and emotional problems, the investigators explained that older women typically have more stable relationships, are more educated, and have obtained better access to material resources.

Life experience can also lend itself to a heightened ability to roll with the punches, which is why older moms might be better equipped to deal with themselves and others.

"We know that people become more mentally flexible with age, are more tolerant of other people and thrive better emotionally themselves,” researcher Dion Sommer said in a statement. “That's why psychological maturity may explain why older mothers do not scold and physically discipline their children as much.”

"This style of parenting can thereby contribute to a positive psychosocial environment which affects the children's upbringing," Sommer added.

Weighing pros and cons

Fading fertility and the risk of a more complicated pregnancy may prompt experts to advise women not to wait too long to have their first child.

However, when considering the consequences of rising maternal age, “it’s important to consider both the physical and psychosocial pros and cons," Sommer said.

Studies show that older women tend to worry less during pregnancy, are more positive about becoming parents, and generally have a more positive attitude towards their children.

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