When it’s been debated if it’s better for women to begin having children when they are younger or older, I’ve often heard that the advantage of younger mothers is more energy, but that older mothers have more wisdom. Is this true? Well, in some ways, yes. An older mother has more life experience, and ideally, by the time she becomes a parent, she has a strong sense of who she is. However, if an older mother has more perspective and maturity doesn’t mean that they will be more confident in their parenting. After all, it’s their first time being a mother, and every new stage brings up new issues. All new mothers are facing the same challenges.
I got married young, so I had my first baby when I was young, too! People are often surprised when they meet me to find out that I have eight kids – or if they know how many kids I have, are surprised to find out how old I am. (Since I know it’s hard to read something like that without knowing the numbers, I just turned 34 several days ago. :)) Not that I look especially young for my age, just I guess they expect me to look much older. And they always seem to end their series of exclamations with, “Eight kids! (shake head) And you still look so happy!” – as if I should look like a miserable hag because I have a large family.
I’m a pretty confident parent, but my age doesn’t have anything to do with how confident I am or not. The moms who are older than me who have asked me for feedback, have asked because my kids were older than theirs and I had dealt with things they were just getting to. Whatever confidence I have in this area is a result of experience, of over fourteen years of being a parent, of thinking through issues, educating myself, and learning, learning, learning.
Every child comes with their own personality, and I’ve learned something from them all. And I keep learning all the time – I think life is a process of striving to always learn more and be more, and parenting is certainly like that. I don’t claim to have all the answers and I’m always open to finding a better way to approach issues that may arise. Confidence about who you are (as a parent or anything else) is more a result of being clear in who you are and what your values are, of working towards your goals and seeing them actualized, than of an arbitrary number.