Why More Women Are Waiting on Motherhood
Despite mounting pressures and a celebrity baby crazed culture, women all around the world are continuing to see the benefits of waiting to have children. The majority of all births are still to women under 35 (about 85% of the total), but rates for all births, not just of a first child, to women over 35 have been rising over the past 20 years, while birth rates for younger women are stable or declining, which signals a shift in the culture of motherhood and what it means to women of all ages. (Image Credit: Jonathan Gallegos/Unsplash)
The Cultural Effects of Birth Control & Education
The availability of birth control in developing countries is one of the major causes of this shift, as women continue to have more and more access to methods that give them autonomy in controlling their own body. The same countries that give women access to proper birth control also tend to offer women the option of effectively balancing a career and motherhood, but they also tend to be more celebrity-crazed as well, interested in the lives of others who have careers, children and seem to fit in a killer workout every morning. If a woman has to choose between pursuing her career and starting a family rather than doing both at the same time, putting off having kids becomes more likely, but the difficult part comes when women see celebrity parents seemingly doing it all.
It seems that these cultures are simultaneously teaching women that it’s okay to be in control of your own body and wait to have children while also pushing a celebrity culture that shows young women having multiple children and a fast-paced career. It becomes important in these instances and cultures to be reminded that there are various types of parenting skills and mothers, and that high-powered celebrity execs usually have the money and resources to employ a team of helpers that make those lifestyles possible.
The Benefits of Waiting to Have Children
For women between ages 40-45 with professional degrees and full-time jobs, those who gave birth to their first child at age 35 made more than $50,000 more per year than women who had their first child at 20, on average. Despite mounting pressures to just “have a baby already,” many women are beginning to not only see the benefits of waiting, but speaking out against that type of pressure.
Gloria Steinem once said that an acquaintance once told her, “Everybody with a womb doesn’t have to have a child any more than everybody with vocal cords has to be an opera singer.” Of the pressure and decision she made, Kim Cattrall once famously said, “I realized that so much of the pressure I was feeling was from outside sources, and I knew I wasn’t ready to take that step into motherhood. Being a biological mother just isn’t part of my experience.” It seems that these women have taken time out to really assess what the significance of motherhood means to them in order to understand just how it might affect their lives and whether or not it’s even something they want deep down, and you can too.
As much as we try to plan out our lives, things happen and we have to learn to adjust our path accordingly. There is no set age that women are supposed to have children, and it’s important to take on that massive but rewarding responsibility when you are personally ready, whether that’s at 20 or 40. Ensuring that more support systems for mothers are in place is a good first step. However, it is more of a societal and cultural shift that needs to happen in order to allow women the time and space to enjoy both their new role as a mother as well as their personal and professional pursuits