Younger vs older first-time mum
Posted by: Brigitte Rozario
Is it better for women to have children when they're younger or older? A younger mother will have all the energy to run after her small children and yet watch them graduate from college before retirement. An older mother will be more settled in her life and career when she has her children.
Lily Chua (not her real name), 42, mother of two aged 18 and 19 years old:
I got married at 21 and at 23 I had my first child. The next year, I had my second child.
At first my family was rather shocked because they expected me to do well in my studies, get a degree and have a good career. Instead, I got married at 21 and then I was pregnant. So I had to stop working and help my husband in his shop, which is what I have been doing until now.
My husband was of course happy when I got pregnant. I was scared (because I was still young) but I had a lot of help from my mum. She helped me look after my first child from birth until she was three years old although I did take my daughter home on weekends.
I had to consult my mother and mother-in-law when raising my children.
My mother also had her children at a young age but it was different during my mother's time - everybody was expected to marry young then.
In my time we were expected to study, have a good education and a career.
Instead I got married and had children. Although I have no regrets I do see my friends with good careers now and I am a bit envious of them.
Looking back I think I was too young then to have children. I missed out on a lot of things that others have/had - like a career and travelling.
My children are now 18 and 19 and I'm just 42.
On the plus side, my children are grown up now and can take care of themselves meanwhile some of my friends' children are still small. At least if anything happens to me now I know my children can take care of themselves, unlike my friends whose children are still small.
The good thing about having them when I was young is that I had more energy to run after them then.
But I think it's better if women only have babies when they're 27, 28 or even 30, not too young and not when they're too old either. By that age you would have graduated from university and have a stable job, you would've travelled a bit so then you settle down and have children.
So you would be more mature and know how to take care of your children but you wouldn't be too tired at that age.
My advice to my children now is to study hard and have a good career, don't get married early and have children too early; don't even have boyfriends or girlfriends yet.
If you have children early you'll be tied down. In everything you do, your priority will always be your children and you would have to make certain sacrifices.
If you have children when you're older your career would be established by then and you wouldn't have to worry so much about your financial situation then.
Shanthini Venugopal who had her son when she was 39:
Shanthini with her son
I have one son who turns 12 in October. I was told that I couldn't have children and then at age 39 I found out I was pregnant. There were concerns about the risks because of my age. In fact my doctor said I could do an amniocentesis to find out if there were any birth defects but he also told me there were risks involved in doing an amniocentesis. He asked me a simple question: 'If you did find out there was something wrong with the child, what would you do?' I said after 39 years I finally have a child, I don't think I'd abort the child; I would deal with whatever I'm faced with. He said, 'If that's how you feel then I would say don't do the amniocentesis and I will guide you in every way.'
So, I went for my checkups every month.
Today, my son is like any other healthy 11-year-old boy.
Age was never an issue for me. I never thought about how old I would be when he graduates. I am a fairly healthy person. I am a lot older than all his friends' parents but that kind of worry never even entered my mind.
I just thought it's better because I've done so much in my life and now I could actually tone down. All the parties and 'hoo-ha-ing' were over. In fact I thought it was better because sometimes when you're young and you have a child you feel the child holds you back - not everybody feels like that but there are some who feel that way. I've done a lot of things in my life and I don't think it would've been possible if I'd had a child earlier.
I was not tired running after my son when he was small because for the kind of work I do I have to be extremely energetic. I do shows for children and I have to have that kind of energy when I'm doing performances and teaching children. I've never lacked energy. That was never a concern for me and I never got tired of running after him.
For me, I was ready at that point in my life when I had a child. I was ready for it and I wanted it so it was something that I took on as another challenge in my life.
Having a child at a later age I feel is just as wonderful as having a child when you're younger. It is up to each individual. I think the experience of having a child at whatever age - if it's something you have been looking forward to - is going to be a beautiful experience. It really doesn't matter whether you're younger or older.
I have absolutely no regrets. It's been a learning process for me. It doesn't matter if you're younger or older when you have a child. You are never prepared for any of it because there is no parenting course and nobody can tell you what's going to happen. It doesn't matter if you're older or younger - you still don't know. You can hear of other people's experiences but it's never the same. No two children are the same. You just learn as you are experiencing it. That doesn't matter whatever age you are. It's a very level playing field.