Benefits of Being a Young Parent

I'm not sure what age I would have been had we actually planned parenthood. I'm fairly certain it wouldn't have been five days after my 20th birthday, which is when my oldest son decided to make his appearance. I was a sophomore in college when I found out I was pregnant. Not much older than my son is now, which is why I'm not sure I would recommend young parenthood for most people, though we have found that through the years, there have been some unexpected benefits of being a young parent that we just couldn't have planned for. While there have been hundreds of articles written about "the right age" to have children, I'm not sure that I could fully agree with most of them. I don't know if there is a right age. Sometimes you make the best of whatever situation you are in. If that means you start raising a family before you intended or delaying parenthood until you have a grasp on your life, I think that there are benefits to every situation. However, this is our story. And these are the benefits that I have seen with being a young parent.

 photo credit Rebecca Anne Photography

Benefits of Being a Young Parent

I had my first son at 20, my daughter at 23 and {like clockwork} my youngest son at 26. I spent the majority of my twenties as a baby making and life sustaining factory while many of my friends were out "finding themselves." I still have friends from high school and college that are in the young phase of parenthood, several of them currently pregnant. I'm far closer to grand-parenthood now than I am to having children of my own since my youngest child is closing in on twelve, and when we hear an announcement of another friend's pregnancy we are happy for them, but my husband and I usually high five and come up with another little reflection on the benefits of young parenthood. Unexpected benefits as they were, maybe it's just us taking our lemons and making lemonade.

Less transition

While I'm not saying that parenthood doesn't come without transition, I would venture to guess that the transition to parenthood may be slightly easier the younger you are. I didn't have a lot of years out there on my own to be selfish. I didn't develop a lifestyle that revolved solely around me, heck, I really didn't know what it was like to be on my own. The transition wasn't without bumps and compromise but I feel like it was a role that was easier to fall into than it would have been if we were older.

Maturing quickly

With a September birthday, I was always the youngest in my classes at school, which I think was a benefit in helping me mature a little quicker than I would have otherwise. Parenthood has a way of helping you grow up quickly regardless of what decade you are in. However, having kids young afforded us the opportunity to grow up and mature without too many life mistakes under our belt. The stakes were high and we needed to make sure that we succeeded in this parenthood gig so we matured quickly and sometimes we sucked it up and did things because we had to. What was sporadic attendance in our college classes before became daily attendance. Our grades improved and the bar was higher because now failure didn't just affect one person, it affected many. 

Flexibility

If you have met my better half, you know that change and flexibility aren't his strong points. However, in the first half of our marriage he rolled with life much more easily because we were in a phase of life that required a lot of change. When you have kids young, you have to be flexible and this flexibility made adapting to parenthood in college, living on next to nothing and a cross country move much less stressful than if we were faced with similar challenges a decade down the road.

Energy

I'm tired right now just thinking about waking up in the middle of the night for feedings, but when we were younger, we had far more energy to keep up with our kids when they needed it the most. Sleep wasn't as much of a requirement for us to function through our days as it is now. We have always been hands-on parents, jumping around and playing on the playground or having dance parties in the living room. When we bought our first house and moved into our neighborhood, the elementary aged kids would come knocking to see if we could come out and play. We did play a mean game of kickball in the cul-de-sac. 

The age gap isn't as wide

As young parents, we sometimes feel like our experiences in our own childhoods are a bit more relateable to our own children. The age gap isn't quite as wide and the memories aren't quite as clouded as they would be if more time had passed.

Fertility

Fertility wasn't an issue, which really is a double-edged sword because that's how we got into this whole thing in the first place now isn't it?! It is easier to get pregnant and have children when you are younger. I have personally been told by doctors that had I waited to start having kids, I probably would have run into some fertility issues. I know this is a heart-breaking reality for so many people and I'm glad that it wasn't our reality. I probably wouldn't have handled it well.

The grandparents are younger

My kids have had the benefit of not only getting to have active grandparents in their lives, they have also gotten to know their great grandparents. They have heard stories from their grandparents' and great grandparents' childhoods before memories got fuzzy and details fell away. They have spent hours swimming in pools, skiing down mountains, running 5k's and playing 18 holes of golf with grandparents who can still keep up and enjoy the fact that their grandkids help keep them young.  Not only that...

We will be young grandparents

Not any time soon I hope, but even if our kids wait to become parents until they are in their 30's, we will still barely be in our early 50's. That means many years of enjoying our kids as adults and being young enough grandparents to enjoy getting dirty with the grandkids.

Early empty nest

Our youngest son will be out of the house when we are barely in our mid-40's, when many of our friends are still running the carnival for the PTA or baking cookies for the book fair. We didn't get a lot of time to enjoy one another as young newlyweds, but we get to enjoy the reverse when we have a little bit more money and a lot more common sense.

Constantly reminded of how young I am

The older I get, the more I appreciate being constantly reminded of how young I am. I have been confused as the sister or girlfriend of my oldest son more times than he would like to admit. My bald husband doesn't get this quite as often as I do because, well, I have hair that makes me look less old, but if we meet someone for the first time and they ask us about our kids, most people are shocked that we have kids as old as we do because we are just barely teenagers ourselves {cough cough}
 
So while I can't tell you that being a young parent is easy, nor can I tell you that there aren't benefits to waiting to have kids until you are older, but I can tell you that we faced some surprising benefits by having kids young. I would love to hear about your experience. What do you think? Is there a perfect age to have children?


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7 comments

Anonymous said...

I agree totally! I had my first child at 21, my husband was in university, my second child at 24 when my husband was graduating, and the third at 25. Three kids in four years, I'd never have been able to do it in my 30's. I'm 53 now, with a 3 year old grand daughter, 2 year old grandson, and a grand daughter arriving next month. And I still have enough energy to play around with them, though they do wear me out sometimes! Sometimes I felt I missed out on being an adult with no responsibilities, just for myself, but then I look at friends dealing with teenagers and I'm thankful we had them young.

Rachel Teodoro said...

Thanks for sharing your experience. It can be unexpected sometimes, but it's not all bad!

rosy123 said...
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rosy123 said...
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Buffy said...

Yes to all of this! I was just starting my senior year in high school when I found out I was pregnant. My boyfriend (now husband) and I wanted until our son was almost 4 before we got married and within a year we had another son. Looking back, I wouldn't change a thing. All of what you said is spot on - I grew up right along with my boys, had the energy for them day in and day out, and sure, sometimes I was jealous of my friends who got the college, experience, going out every weekend, taking trips, etc., but now that I'm 42 and my sons are grown and (pretty much) self-sufficient, my husband and I are free to do everything now that we couldn't do then. My husband and I always get "You don't look old enough to have kids that age!" and yep, we're really not old enough. haha My older son and I get the curious looks all the time from people - is she the girlfriend? Is she the sister? So I'm sure he could relate to your son.

You know the worst thing about having kids young? None of our friends did. They all waited until their 30s (and even some closer to 40) so now that my husband and I can go out on a moment's notice, none of our friends can. We always have to plan weeks in advance so they can line up babysitters and of course, they never want to stay out later than 9. LOL

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Sharon said...

My husband and I married at 39. We had our son at 41. I was still young and active enough to play with him and drive on most of his field trips. Even tho my part-time job became a fun time job after he turned one.

I think one of the most fun things was science camp experienced 3 ways. I went as a participant in 6th grade, a counselor in 12th grade, and again as a counselor at 50+ (they no longer allowed high school seniors to be counselors to boys or girls) I went as a girl's counselor, but was able to share camp with him from a distance.

Growing up, my son never had a babysitter other than his grandparents. Pop had a nice park across the street from his house. Over the years they played in the sand, swings, water park, baseball field. Mom always had basic homemade meals, I packed his lunch most every morning. I allowed him to get the cafeteria meal once, sometimes twice a week if they had a favorite. We had to live frugally, finding free things to do as a single parent, and almost never paying full-price. I think it worked pretty well.

He is 20 now and joined the USAF at 18. That way he can have some savings, travel around Europe and pay his way to college after.

Empty nest is the goal, I didn't think it would happen before college! What an adjustment, I wasn't ready, ha ha.
Sharon

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