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A friend has really hurt me. I’ve always wanted to be a mother, but I believe a child needs a two-parent home, and I never found the right man. I will soon be 40. My friend said, “I don’t think you should have children. Can you imagine their embarrassment at having an old mother?” My friend’s fiancé wants kids, but she does not. I think her statement was just backlash from her own situation, but it still hurts. I love being involved with my nephews and nieces, and I believe I’d be a good mother. I can’t believe my friend was so spiteful, and I may separate from her if she cannot support me. What should I say to her, and is there any point in trying?
I can’t fault your feelings. Your friend was wrong to make that statement, knowing how much you want children, and you were well within your rights to get angry about it. However, your friend is more likely guilty of insensitivity than cruelty. She probably believes what she says, and if this is the only major problem the two of you have had, the friendship is probably worth saving.
Tell the woman that she hurt your feelings, and that children don’t generally worry about their parents’ age until the adults become infirm. Ask her not to bring up the topic again, and then take pains not to bring it up yourself.
In recent years, women have been choosing to bear children later in life. One in five American women have their first child after age 35, so you are not alone in your desire to wait for the right situation. Statistically, your preference for a two-parent home makes sense. Kids with fathers in the home tend to be healthier, more emotionally stable, and better students.
Of course, while your friend’s concerns about children being embarrassed suggest immaturity on her part, there are legitimate reasons to be concerned about pregnancy for women over 40. First of all, fertility tends to decline in the late 20s or early 30s, and women over 30 often take longer to conceive than younger women. Second, the likelihood of birth defects rises with the age of the mother, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Women who become pregnant at 40 have a 1-in-66 chance of having a child with chromosomal abnormalities, versus 1-in-385 at age 30 and 1-in-526 at age 20.
However, the news isn’t all bad. Older mothers tend to be better educated than younger mothers, which apparently translates into good parenting choices. A British study suggests that by age 3, children of mothers over 40 were less likely to have had an accident or been admitted to the hospital. These results hold true regardless of the mother’s economic status. Another study published in the Journal of the American Diatetic Association suggests older mothers are more likely to make good nutritional choices for their children.
Is grounding a teen for underage drinking a fair punishment? I’m 16, and I was grounded for two weeks. I had to come right home after school, no phone, no Internet except for schoolwork. Last weekend there was a party at a friend’s house, but I had to stay home and go to bed early.
This punishment is so fair that if your father had written me a letter on this topic, I’d have said, “You the man!” Keep in mind that while some parents may simply have ignored the underage drinking, others would have grounded the kid for six months. Your father chose a path closer to the middle.
I submit that your father took the right approach. Grounding for two months or longer is probably too long for a first offense. I recommend that you change your conduct and attitude, however, because recidivism will probably spark a far stiffer punishment.
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