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Having Kids In Your 20s: The Good, Bad & Ugly

Couples are waiting longer and longer to have kids. Is this a good or bad thing?

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“No one is ever quite ready; everyone is always caught off-guard. Parenthood chooses you. And you open your eyes, look at what you’ve got, say “Oh, my gosh,” and recognize that of all the balls there ever were, this is the one you should not drop. It’s not a question of choice.”

~ Marisa de los Santos

The good, bad, and ugly of having kids in your 20s

Couples are waiting longer and longer to have kids. In fact, in the 70s, the average age to start a family for women was 26, while the average age for men was 29. However, in 2016, the average age for women was 30 and the average age for men was 33. But, while this time has lengthened, most career-minded 20-somethings do not feel that it has lengthened enough. Many Millennials and Generation Z young adults do not plan to have children until much later in life, perhaps in their 30s or 40s.

Is this a good or bad thing? It depends on your perspective. Twenty-somethings often hear their older peers praise the amazing benefits of spending their young adulthood traveling the world, enjoying benefits of a hard-won dream career, sowing their wild oats, and doing whatever they want to do – when they want to do it.

Your twenties are supposed to be the best time of your life, after all. But, what about when you have kids in your 20s? Is it still the best time of your life?

The Good

  • As a woman, your body and skin will bounce back faster.
  • You’ll get to stay home with your child for a few years before returning to work, which means you’ll catch many of your child’s developmental milestones before you start working again.
  • Because you are so young, you’ll still have plenty of energy to have fun with your child.  
  • Sleep will not affect you as much because you’re still young and don’t need as much rest as older parents.
  • You’ll probably be more “laid back” than some older parents. Many 20-somethings do not believe in reading multiple parenting books to ensure they are doing “it” right. They don’t really care if experts say they should do this or that – they simply follow their natural instincts when parenting.
  • You’re less likely to grapple with fertility issues. But, if you do have problems conceiving, you’re young enough to save up and try other conception options, such as IVF, IUI, foster care, egg or sperm donation, adoption, or surrogacy.
  • You are also more likely to have an extensive support system so you won’t miss out on amazing work opportunities or social events due to not having a babysitter.
  • If you live close to your parents, your child will get to spend a ton of quality time with his or her grandparents, maybe even daily or weekly.
  • When your child becomes an adult, you’ll get to do fun “adult” things together like go to wine tastings, vacations, concerts, festivals, classes, hobbies, bar-hopping, etc.
  • You’ll get to enjoy being a parent longer.

The Bad

  • You’ll still be young when your child becomes an adult and moves out. Note: This may be a benefit for some and a curse for others.
  • You may not be as patient or wise as some older parents.
  • You may have to raise your child as a single parent.
  • There may be a huge gap in age between your children.
  • You may not fit-in in some “mommy circles,” especially if you are significantly younger than the average mommies and/or single. Although this may not seem important, it is for many young moms, at least at first. Slightly older new moms (in their 30s) may get together and do double dates or “couples outings,” or “mommies’ day out” activities, where they gab about their partners or spouses. But, if you are in your early 20s and/or single, you may be more focused on meeting available singles than talking about partners and spouses during these events.
  • You’ll have to find a babysitter to watch your child before you can go out with other young adults.
  • You’ll probably have to learn how to “parent” on-the-go.
  • Your social life may suffer. You won’t be able to stay out all night and still feed your newborn every two hours, change diapers, or be home to prepare breakfast for your child every morning.

The Ugly

  • If you have kids in your 20s or if you look really young, you may experience discrimination. More specifically, others may incorrectly assume you’re a “teen parent” – when you’re not.
  • Because you are young and/or single, others may incorrectly assume you receive or qualify for public assistance – i.e. welfare, food stamps, and/or state-sponsored childcare vouchers – when you don’t.
  • It will annoy you when friends and family members (without kids) ask if they can come over for some much-needed “me time.”
  • Because you are young, you’ll most likely wonder if you’re a “good” parent.
  • You’ll have to constantly deal with irritating questions like, “Are you ready for baby #2?”
  • It could wreck-havoc on your love life, especially if a potential match doesn’t want children, doesn’t want to date someone with children, and/or doesn’t want to be a step-parent in the future.

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Actionable Steps


1

Read the longer version

You can learn more about having kids in your 20s by reading the following articles: The Science Of Having Kids In Your 20s, 30s And 40s by Fatherly, 6 Reasons Having Kids In Your 20s Is Actually The Best by Romper, 5 Ways Having Kids In Your 20s Affects You Later In Life by Romper, Why Having Kids In Your 20s Is Actually Awesome and Not Awful by Kalee Eversole, and 15 Reasons Having A Baby In Your Early 20s Is A Mistake by The Talko.

2

Set healthy boundaries

A good way to be the best parent possible is to set healthy boundaries. Children need rules, limits, and boundaries to thrive. These things help kids better understand and manage their worlds, so the best thing you can do for your child is to help him or her safely navigate the world through healthy boundaries. If you’re wondering what healthy boundaries you should set, this article will explain the ins-and-outs of setting healthy boundaries with your child.

3

Create memories together

Being a good parent, regardless of one’s age, typically involves creating memories together. What does this entail? Well, it involves developing annual traditions and daily routines with your child.
 
These traditions are not only memorable, but also provide safety and stability for your child. So, create a bedtime routine for your child. For example: starting three hours before bed – (1) dinner, (2) bath, (3) book, (4) prayers, and (5) soothing music for two hours (set the timer), and lastly turn on the sound machine for the rest of the night. 
 
Set holiday traditions, such as decorating the Christmas tree together, while sipping on non-alcoholic eggnog, munching on cookies, and listening to holiday music or watching holiday movies like the Miracle on 34th Street, The Grinch, It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story, or White Christmas.
 
Go on family vacations to kid-friendly places like Walt Disney World, Universal Studios – Orlando, Epcot, Legoland, Walt Disneyland, Chuck E. Cheese, Nick Jr. Live shows, or to family-friendly movies. It doesn’t matter what you do, just as long as you do it together. The goal is to create positive long-lasting memories any way you can. And, plus, there’s no greater way to say, “I love you” than this!
 
Note: Your child probably won’t remember everything, or even most of what you tell him or her, however, an older child, five and up, will most likely remember the experiences he or she shared with you. Your child will also remember family traditions and daily routines. So, do things together, even if it’s just going to the park or to your child’s sports games or dance recitals. I guarantee you that it will stay with him or her for the rest of his or her life.

4

Be a good role model

Lastly, be a good role model for your child. Kids learn how to react, behave, and even think by watching their parents; provide your child with a good example of how to be a healthy, happy, respectful, compassionate, and productive human being by modeling those behaviors in your everyday life. The result? A child, who is exactly like you!  a

About the Author


Dr. R. Y. Langham

Dr. R. Y. Langham

Ph.D. in Family Psychology

Ree has a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy (M.M.F.T.) and a Ph.D. in Family Psychology. She spent over ten years counseling families, couples, individuals, and children on adjustment issues such as blended families, same-sex couples, dysfunctional family relationships, relationship issues, etc. Now she writes for famous health organizations and is a published author.
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