Worldwide there is an astonishing increase over the next decade in the number of people in their 60s who have children that are not yet 18. While no one should question the ability of someone in their 60s to care for teenagers, the financial consequences are impossible to ignore.
The rise of the parent is inevitable given how many women are having children in their 40s. In 2017 the birth rate among women aged 40 and above surpassed that of women aged under 20 for the first time since 1947, according to the UK Office for National Statistics. Births to the 40-plus have more than trebled since 1981.
Traditionally the over-55 period is when things calm down financially. It’s also the period when many people start shoveling their money into a pension to take advantage of tax reliefs. But as the trend to having children later in life continues – not least because getting on the property ladder while young is so much more difficult – it’s not really clear when and how this generation will be able to put anything extra into their pensions.
But the crucial part of life is that most of the mortgage is paid off by the time these new elderly parents hit their early 50s. They are able in their 60s to release significant amounts of equity. The suffering of financial drawbacks is limited when starting a family late.
The advantages of late parenthood are high. Both parents had been able to pursue great careers, in good health and, by the time of having children, the property ladder assured them of a good-sized home. The only drawback could be a parent coping with teenage kids at the same time as caring for elderly parents.
This generation won’t just be worse off than their parents in many ways. They also look like the generation that will have to work well into their 70s to have any hope of financing their retirement.
Advantages of Children with Older Parents
Feeling More Wanted
Children with older parents often take center-stage in their parents’ lives. They receive a lot of attention from their parents and feel very loved and wanted. Older parents are more likely to be settled professionally and are able to spend more time with their children.
Older parents are more likely to be financially secure and able to provide an economically stable life for their children (at least for those with a middle-class background or higher). Their children are exposed to a variety of educational opportunities and are able to travel; attend better, possibly private schools; and be involved in extracurricular activities.
Older parents seem to be more stable, relaxed, and less stressed-out by work or parenting issues. They are less worried about their finances or their career, allowing them to be more present and relaxed with their children. These children often grow up in stable two-parent families. The divorce rate among older parents is lower and these parents have more time to spend with their children.
Feeling Different From Peers
Children of older parents are aware that their parents are different- older than any other parents. That often leaves them feeling self-conscious and embarrassed. Some of these children are ashamed to bring their friends home to meet their parents, fearing they might be mistaken for grandparents. They are also aware of when their parents’ energy declines because they won’t participate in sports the way younger parents might. The experience that a greater ”generation gap” separates them from their parents is common. These children may also be aware that their parents are a bit more “old-fashioned” in their music and fashion taste.
Fear of Parents Dying
Children of older parents often fear that they will lose their parents much earlier than their peers will. When they become aware of their parents’ age, they may want to spend as much time with their parents, and squeeze in as many experiences, as possible. This can turn into a significant worry where a child may not want to leave home out of fear that parents will die.
Responsible for Parents at Early Age:
As young adults, children of older parents are frequently faced with emotional, medical and financial responsibilities for their parents at much earlier ages than their peers. They may be barely out of college when their parents are already on the verge of retirement or have declining health. Instead of having their 20s and 30s to concentrate on jobs and marriages, they often have to assume a myriad of responsibilities for their parents, relatively early in life.
Not Enough Autonomy
Older parents often have small families and a lot of time to be with their children. Greater parental attention may result in a tendency to overprotect and micromanage children. Children may feel they do not have enough autonomy. While intellectually stimulating, older parents can have an unrealistically high expectationions of academic achievement. Children may feel a great pressure to succeed and be high achievers.