I’ve mentioned one of my regrets was having kids late. I was too focused on my career. Then I became too focused on achieving financial independence to make room for little ones. Ideally, I would have liked to have had my first kid at age 34 instead of at age 39.
However, a conversation with my friend Carlos made me better realize the benefits of being an older parent who is more financially secure.
When I first mentioned to Carlos I had an almost five-year-old son, he looked at me in shock. He responded, “You’re 44 years old and have a five-year-old?! What?!”
You see, Carlos is 48 years old and has a 24-year-old son. He’s very proud of his son because he always talks about how big and powerful he is. However, he lamented his son never tried hard enough in baseball, which is why he never was able to play in college.
So I asked Carlos what his son was doing now. He responded, “He lives in the Central Valley, in Modesto with his mom. I haven’t seen him in over a year.”
Modesto is only a 1 hour, 30-minute drive away from where he lives in San Francisco. I’m not sure why he doesn’t visit more often.
Kids Spend Most Of Their Time With Their Parents By Age 18
Carlos and his ex-wife divorced when their son was only eight years old. He told me they grew apart, like many people commonly do. Then we began talking about how quickly kids grow up. Carlos said that after his son turned 14, his boy just wanted to spend most of his time with his friends.
By the time kids finish high school, more than 80% of the time they’ll ever spend with their parents is gone. Some say 90%. How sobering.
After age 18, some kids go off to college and create their own lives. Other kids will continue to stay at home well into adulthood until they can finally launch. Meanwhile, some parents will get divorced and move out of the house along the way.
Carlos continued to make me feel bad about being an older dad by saying, “So when your son is 20, you’re going to be 59?!” Yes Carlos, your math is correct.
But I realized something awesome while Carlos was stepping on my soul. For us older, more financially independent parents, we actually can more than make up for our old age!
As An Older Parent, I Got The Math Equation Wrong
For the longest time, I kept thinking that because I had children later, my children won’t be in my life as long as I would have liked. The obvious reason is my eventual death. If I had children at age 25, we would be in each other’s lives for a greater percentage.
However, I realize now that I got the math equation wrong! It’s not the number of years my child has lived divided by my age upon death that matters most. Instead, it’s the number of total minutes we spend with our children during their entire lives!
Therefore, to make up for having children later, all older parents need to do is spend more time with their children during their first 18 years than a younger parent or the average parent.
Further, since 18 years is what counts the most due to the 80%+ statistic, a father can be as old as 60-70 before having their first child! A mother can too. Although, biology dictates that most women will no longer be able to have biological children after age 45.
In other words, if we follow the Pareto optimal rule, a parent’s job is to mainly live and provide until a child officially becomes an adult. Spending the remaining 20% or less time together after age 18 is still very important. However, most of a parent’s job is done by the time their child reaches age 18-22.
How Much More Time Should Older Parents Spend With Their Children To Come Out Ahead
After Carlos and his ex-wife got a divorce, Carlos moved out. He then saw his son once a week for about four hours at a time until he turned 18. Then his son went off to college and Carlos would see his son three times a year on average.
How much time did Carlos spend with his son during his first 18 years of life? Here is the estimate based on what he told me.
Amount Of Time Carlos Spent With His Kid From Age 1-18
First 8 years of child’s life = 2920 days
90 minutes a day spent with child = 262,800 minutes spent with child from age 1-8
Then Carlos got divorced and the time he spent with his son from age 9-18 went down from daily to weekly.
52 weeks a year X 10 years = 520 weeks
240 minutes spent with son a week X 520 weeks = 124,800 minutes spent with son from age 9-18
Total number of minutes spent with son for 18 years = 387,600 or 6,460 hours
Amount Of Time I Plan To Spend With My Kids From Age 1-18
I spend on average 240 minutes a day with my children. Some days I spend 480+ minutes a day with them, while other days I’ll only spend 180 minutes a day. I’m trying to be as realistic as possible.
5 years = 1,825 days
240 minutes X 1,825 days = 438,000 minutes for the first five years of life
Over time, I suspect the time I spend with them a day will fade down to 120 – 180 minutes a day due to school, friends, and other activities. Therefore, let’s take an average of 150 minutes a day with my kids from age 6-18.
13 years = 4,745 days
150 minutes X 4,745 days = 711,750 minutes spent with my kids from age 6-18
The total number of minutes I plan to spend with my kids for their first 18 years = 1,149,750 minutes or 19,163 hours. In other words, I plan to spend 223% more time or 762,150 more minutes or 12,703 more hours with my kids than Carlos spent with his son.
Doing the math, I no longer feel bad at all for having kids later. In fact, my hope is to spend even more time with my kids than the calculations above. We plan to travel a lot as a family during the summers and winters when they are both over five years old (2025+).
85 minutes is the average time spent for university-educated parents. The average amount of minutes a non-university-educated father spends a day with their child is only 55 minutes.
Amount Of Time The Average Parent Spends With Their Kids From Age 1-18
Below is the data again regarding the average amount of time parents spend with their children per day in various countries. As a stay-at-home father, the amount of time seems really low. But the data is the data.
Using the data from Our World Data, we can make a general calculation for all parents in America. Let’s assume all parents spend as much time with their children a day as university-educated mothers: 125 minutes. Better to assume the highest number to be conservative.
18 years X 365 days = 6,570 days
6,570 days X 125 minutes = 821,250 total minutes a college-educated mother spends with their child for the first 18 years of life.
Now let’s use the highest average number of minutes a parent spends a day with their child out of the 10 developed countries listed above: 150 minutes
6,570 days X 150 minutes = 985,550 total minutes the most available parent spends during the first 18 years of life for these 10 select countries.
The 1 Million Minute Hurdle (16,666 Hours)
I’m assuming that parents who don’t spend on average 125-150 minutes a day with their children will say things like, “It’s more about the quality of time spent versus the quantity of time spent.”
Sure, there’s a difference between being 100% present for 125 minutes versus letting your child play by herself at the playground while you’re on your phone for 125 minutes. However, once we observe all the minutes spent by all the parents in the world, the quality of time spent with children averages out.
All else equal, we can agree that more time spent with our children is better than less time spent.
Therefore, if we want to feel like good parents, I propose all parents shoot to spend one million or more minutes with their kids during their first 18 years of life. One million minutes will put parents in the top tier of time spent with our children among 10 countries surveyed, and probably the world. If our children turn out poorly, we won’t feel as bad.
The great thing about the one million minutes target is that parents have 18 years to achieve the goal. If a parent was more absent during the first nine years of a child’s life, a parent can make up for lost time.
Even if a parent was completely absent during their child’s first 18 years of life, they can do their best to spend more time with their adult children. However, making up for lost time so late will likely be much more challenging.
More Benefits Of Having Kids Late And Being A Financially Independent Parent
We already know about the downsides of having kids when older, including the difficulty of conceiving and carrying to term a healthy baby. But let’s focus on the positives, shall we?
Besides being able to spend more time with your children than the average parent, here are more benefits of being an older parent who is more financially independent.
- More family trips together, domestically and internationally.
- A greater ability to attend more extracurricular activities like a sporting event, play, debate, etc.
- A greater ability to participate more in volunteer school activities.
- Being able to spend more time with your children with their school work.
- Being able to homeschool your children.
- Provide more care at home if your child needs to skip school due to an illness or some other mishap.
- More flexibility to drive your children around wherever they want to go.
- An increased likelihood you are a wiser parent who can impart more wisdom about life.
- Your kids might actually end up making you a lot more money than you realize
Having Children Late Can Work Out Just Fine
If I had children while working in banking (age 22-34), it is highly unlikely I would spend even 120 minutes on average a day with them. Working ~60 hours a week on average is exhausting. Further, I was constantly flying across the country and internationally for business meetings.
All the same, I would have loved to have children earlier. Getting paid parental leave, a steady paycheck, and subsidized health benefits sounds awesome. If you’re a younger parent who is upset at this post, please know this post is for older parents or older people who are considering kids. It just didn’t work out for me the way I had envisioned and that’s just life.
Now that I’ve crunched the numbers and understand how small the window is for us to spend the most amount of time with our children, I feel great about being an older dad. Carlos’ initial guilting of my situation actually turned into an amazing epiphany!
Because both my wife and I don’t have day jobs, we can afford to spend a lot more time every day with our children. Our passive income portfolio is what powers us to be free. So long as we both survive until our children turn 18, we will end up spending far more time with our children than the average parent.
Therefore, our number one goal is to take care of our health. Ideally, we’ll live longer than the median life expectancy. When our children turn 18, we will then reassess how much more time we should or can spend with them.
I will always want to be involved in my adult children’s lives. It’s one of the reasons why I spend so much time with them every day in the first place: so they have happy childhood memories. However, I also understand they’ll want to launch on their own. And when that time comes, I’ll be patiently waiting for my phone to ring.
Questions And Action Items
Readers, any of you have kids late? If you are an older parent, what are some of the other benefits you can think of?
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Womens perspective: biological clocks are very real and infertility is very cruel. I have so many y friends in their late 30s and early 40s trying to get pregnant and they can’t. Some choose to put having children down the road due to career reasons, others have been trying to get pregnant for 15+ years and its just not happening even though medical professionals cannot find the cause. Fertility treatments are emotionally and financially draining. IVF can deplete saving very quickly.
Personally I had my 3 kids at 28,31,36. My bonus surprise baby at 36 reminded me how absolutely draining it is to have a baby when you have 2 other kids in school . She was born in October 2020 and I had 2 kids in virtual school. It was a nightmare. Next year they are going to private schools because virtual school opened up my eyes to what a dumpster fire public school is even though mine go to a charter school.
I also look at it through my mom’s eyes who has 5 kids starting at 20,22,24,26,30. She is currently 57 and has energy to enjoy 5 grandkids. My in – laws are 68 & 76 their oldest grandchild is 9. Although relatively healthy things are starting to creep up that is taking time away from enjoying their grandkids. They also choose to self isolate during the pandemic because they were living in extreme fear.
Olaf, the Mile High Finance Guy says
Sam, this may happen to be one of the most thought-provoking posts I have read in recent memory, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. If the reasoning for having kids later in life is due to being financially independent, it makes perfect sense. However, I would assume that there is enjoyment to see your kids grow up and start a family of their own. So, the later you wait, you will see less growth and not have as much time with your grandkids. I think the optimal time is likely between your mid-thirties and early forties for those seeking FI, but waiting until your fifties and sixties solely for financial success seems like a waste.
Bill in NC says
I was in my late 40s when my oldest kid was 20 & now I wish we had starting having kids at least 5 years earlier.
Mainly because my mom got sick in her 40s and so my kids never got the chance to know her.
Waiting until your late 30s or early 40s to have kids means there’s a good chance that you’ll never know your grandkids.
Jeff VA says
Giving people like Carlos the benefit of the doubt is draining, but hopefully he was just shocked at how different someone else’s life can be compared to him.
Financial Samurai says
Sometimes. He gave me a beer and we were just shooting the sh8t as I waited for my turn to bat. He came out to watch the softball game. But I thank Carlos for enabling me to think of this positive angle for older parents.
Always a bright side to everything!
I’m coming at this from a different perspective. My mom was 21 when she had me, my father 23. (He died a long time ago, so that isn’t the focus of my post.)
I am SOOO happy my mom had me when she was young because she’s been around all of my life. I’m 55, and she’s 76 now, and in poor health. Nearly all of my friends had older parents, and started losing them at a younger age. So they’ve spent more of their adult life without their parents.
Were we always close? No, but we’ve a great relationship over all. She lives about 5 minutes from me.
My sister had her 3 kids (the 2nd pregnancy ended up being twins) when she was 33-35 (she’s 45 now). It’s definitely a young woman’s game. The flip side was that it inspired me to make working out a priority in order to be able to keep up with them. They’re very close with my mother, and I wish they had been born earlier.
So from a kid’s perspective, younger is better. I grew up poor and my mom was never in a good financial position, so that plays less of a role in my thoughts.
I have no kids (medical reasons), so I can’t speak to it from a parent’s perspective.
jim kraus says
My wife and I had kids a bit later – we were both 35 and 38 at the time. We both look (and act) younger than our chronological age, so I never felt “older” than other parents at school, etc. The ONLY real downside I can see is that I would have loved to have more kids, but it became harder to conceive. My wife was quite happy with just two – and eventually decided our third “kid” would be a dog!
We had twins when I was 39 and wife was 38.
All I can say is we are always so bloody tired!!
They are great kids but man do they take it out of us. We do however work full time, but it is also great that we are very financially secure as we are a bit older.
Well, I’m 57 with a 2 3/4 and 6 year old. I was born when my father was 48. Sometimes I think it is crazy that all my grandparents were born in the 19th Century but my children might live into the 22nd Century…
We had our son when I was 37. We weren’t ready earlier. The big advantage was financial stability, similar to your case. We put him in a daycare for a year, then I quit to be a SAHD.
I spent a ton of time with our son. We had a lot of good memories together. But I think he already forgot a lot of it.
He’s 11 now and he’s starting to spend a lot more time with friends than his parents. That’s good. It gives us more freedom. We still do outdoor stuff together so hopefully, that will continue for a few more years. I bet he won’t want to spend any time with me when he’s 15. That’s okay with me.
Not sure why you want to spend so much time with the kids when they’re PITA teenagers. :)
Financial Samurai says
I want to because I know once they are gone from the house, I will miss them.
You have a special situation. There is no way my wife would approve of me going back home by myself to see my parents for 3 months. Two weeks would be the most.
I would miss my family dearly after not seeing them for two weeks as well.
Children and parenting are overrated. Children are only fun up to age 10 – if you’re lucky – then nothing but a money pit thereafter. Nowadays, it really does not make any financial sense to have Children. Back in the old days, you have children to help in the family business and to have someone take care of you in your old age. There’s no guarantee of that anymore. Nowadays, with 7.5B people already in the world, all you’re creating is another consumer and earth polluter. Why are we even having Children? Love, companionship, ego, something to do? Is your DNA really that special that you think Earth needs more of you? I have one child at age 30. She started going wacko after puberty. She’s 25 soon. I have no have any contact with her in 3-4 years. I only know she’s still alive through her FB posts and numerous medical claims under my health insurance. She’s covered until she’s 26. I just hope she got her crap together by then. I fat-FIRE @ 50. She’s my only heir. At least I know she’ll be financially be well when I die. I just worry that she’ll not know how to handle all that money on her own. Oh well, I’ll be dead. Nothing much I would be able to do about it. Yes, all assets are in a trust. She would not be able to touch it until after age 30. If I can live my life all over again, I’ll have dogs for love, loyalty, and companionship instead of kids. I would invest all the money I spent on child rearing in growth stocks and long term care insurance. Make sure I can afford a quality senior home. Children nowadays are poor investments. I have several friends right now with high school and college age kids. I know and see several 65+ plus seniors who raised 3-6 children and has 20+ grandchildren- yet living destitute and alone. So what’s the point? Honest question. What’s really the point of having Children when you can’t expect them to help in the house, you can’t compel them to take care of you in your old age, and you can’t force them to be available when you need companionship? Why invest all that time, mental energy, and money to someone/something with no guarantee of investment returns?
“What’s really the point of having Children when you can’t expect them to help in the house, you can’t compel them to take care of you in your old age, and you can’t force them to be available when you need companionship? Why invest all that time, mental energy, and money to someone/something with no guarantee of investment returns?”
If you bring children into the world with pre-existing expectations you’re bound to be disappointed. Children become adults and they are their own people, not mini-mes or people that deserve to be guilted into doing your bidding. If you want someone to help in the house or take care of you in your old age your best bet is save money and to hire someone to do this. The best way to have others available when you need companionship is to be there for them after building a relationship.
I had a parent who would tell me on a consistent basis as I grew up that she expected me to take care of her when she was old. I was cleaning the entire house and expected to help take care of a baby when I was six years old. The situation made me feel like I was a burden (children can sense this) who was born with a job and the only way to redeem myself would have been to do her bidding. I moved 1700 miles away as an adult. Since I’m single and have to work taking care of parents (or anyone else) isn’t an option. None of my siblings are in a position to stop working in order to be a caretaker. Around the time mom retired she called me wanting me to quit my job and become her chauffeur (and I’m confident that she also wanted a house keeper, etc.) because despite being perfectly healthy she no longer wanted to drive. The vast majority of people don’t have a wealthy spouse or a situation where they can just quit working to take care of their parents.
Better to save money for retirement and expenses rather than bring children onto the planet with a bunch of expectations. And as with any relationship, if you want someone in your life then be someone worth knowing and a joyful presence in their lives. Not someone who monetizes relationships.
Seems like you are upset your child didn’t turn out like you liked her to be… based on your rhetoric I’m not surprised at all.
Financial Samurai says
“Poor investments” – perhaps this attitude towards children is not healthy.
I wonder, if you spent more time with her. When younger, maybe things would have turned out better.
Best to you.
I don’t have kids (41F) but can see that perspective. A lot of my friends don’t regret having kids per se but especially after a divorce, it turns out they sacrifice a whole deal for their kids and long for the freedom they had before.
It’s all a trade off blah blah. But maybe if society wasn’t pushing us to reproduce so much, we’d have more child free happy adults, and the ones reproducing would be doing it because they want to be parents. Not because their clock is ticking and omg I’m 29 let’s find any guy to have babies.
I almost did that early 30s. We’d be divorced parents with very complicated logistics.
I am glad I did not and I can spoil niblings and friends kids and still get a full night sleep.
To each their own. Having kids you barely will see past their 15th birthday seems like a lot of effort if you’re not a parent at your core. And few people are.
Financial Samurai says
Sounds good to me. To each their own!
My wife and I were never pressured to have children. We decided to have children after we felt the time was right. Then we decided to have our second after we got through the most difficult first 18 months.
Everything is rational in the end. In the long run, we do what makes us happiest. And if we are not happy, we change.
My wife and I married the summer of 1994 and had our 1st of 5 children in 1998 when I was 32 and she was 30. We had both graduated university and together founded 3 successful businesses over a 27 year period thus far.
We were a little worried about “starting a family so late”, and believe me, I was super stressed when our 5th child was born in 2011 when I was 45 years old! I’ll be 65 by the time she turns 20 years old!!
But you know what? As a family we made decisions and some sacrifices (wife gave up career) to home educate all of our kids, and be entrepreneurs, which is certainly a bit against the grain of “normal America”.
All of our vacations include educational elements, which might include scuba diving in the Caribbean, or walking the Freedom Trail in Boston, or visiting the Getty in LA, or the local natural history museum in our hometown.
We realized early on that we are our children’s first teachers, and we just never found a better alternative! And time with family is so incredibly important, so we built a life around family, faith, education, and entrepreneurial pursuits.
By the way, our eldest son (23) just moved out of the family home for the first time to finish up his university degree, but everyone else is still home, which is just fine. He’s employed and attending classes about 50 miles from home and stops by once a week or so.
Life is good.
James H says
My 2 cents
Getting a job, married and having kids in your twenties is better for most people. The primary benefit is the immediate transition into significant personal responsibility. In the same way you have argued to keep a mortgage since it makes you work harder for longer, having a family will require you to change the way you look at your life. It seems to me that one of the ills of today’s people my age, young 30s, is a lack of purpose. Sure, you can buckle down and become successful financially, but I frankly think most people who do that would anyways. I had all my kids by 30 and wouldn’t have done it any other way. Is there a risk that I could have lost my job or become seriously ill, sure, but that risk is not materially bigger than other risks that would ruin you financially by delaying having kids. By having kids young, society benefits from more responsible and thoughtful voters and community members. Having a larger segment of the population working long hours, browsing social media, and going to bars every weekend night is a larger negative for society. I appreciate the perspective but for most people I believe family life is more optimal. Besides, my wife and I will get much more enjoyment with our grandchildren and be able to provide our children much more non financial support than we would if we were much older.
Good perspective. However, if family life is more optimal, isn’t there a sacrifice of choosing your time to make money over spending time with your children?
The combination of financial and family stress is why many couples divorce.
You still need a job kids or no kids . Plenty of childless couples divorce.
My husband is a firefighter and works crazy hours including 24 hours shifts regularly. We still spend a lot of time together as a family as he has generous vacation time and when he is off tour he has 4 days off at a time. (Regular schedule is 4 days on 4 days off)
Agree with all of this! Responsibility gives people meaning in life.
Insightful way of looking at parenting. Especially for potentially older parents or some with regrets.
Thought using analytics particularly in sports to assume the likely ness of an event was impossible but my favorite team continues to show when using the right metrics you can stay ahead of the game.
Using minutes was an attempt at finding the right metric seems very logical but of course there are many factors. Haven’t heard anything better.
I had my kids at 36 an 38 they are 4 an 2 now. From a career standpoint best time for me. I do think I’ll be on the older side for grand kids to provide the support my parents do for us now.
I’ll do my best to keep my health an follow Sam’s charts for Net-worth, college savings, etc so I leave them all I can.
That takes away the opportunity for all the parents to stay up late and create content for their blog or website. Agree?
Awesome article. Another positive your chances of having multiples increases with age. Semi joking but our doctor told us this was the case as we had twins at 40 and a bonus baby 2 years later. Having both of us work pre kids allowed us to have the financial security for my wife to stay at home with kids until she went back when youngest was in fifth grade. I was also able to wfh most of their lives. We realize we were blessed. Also do think it keeps you younger as you tend to hang out with the friends parents who are 10 years younger than us on average!
I feel like you focused a lot on the “pros” and kinda glanced over the “cons.”
To me, the biggest “con” for having children when you are older is the increased risk to the health the child. There’s a link between older parents and higher risk of all sorts of maladies. There’s a NYTimes article addressing the issue in detail: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/25/well/family/the-risks-to-babies-of-older-fathers.html
There is autism in our family history, so I made the decision to have kids a little earlier than I might have liked to minimize the risk that our child would be autistic. Neither of our kids are autistic, and there’s no way to know that they would be if I were an older father, but let’s just say I’m glad I had kids when I did.
Financial Samurai says
Thanks for sharing. In the spirit of focusing on the negatives, please share some of the negatives you’ve experienced having children younger.
Let’s see…biggest two things that come to mind are slowing down your career development. No matter what people tell you, you will not have the drive to do hackathons or go the extra mile when you have a little one.
The other one is I was the first of my high school or college friends to have a kid, so there weren’t a lot of people I could talk to about baby stuff (childless people are only so polite before they lose interest in your baby stories).
An unintended benefit of all this is that, like you, we were living in SF but decided to move to Colorado for more space/affordability. We bought a place and I got into real estate investing here, and well, you can imagine the returns over the past few years. If I stayed in SF, I might still be renting in Japantown. With all these profits, the wife and I are looking forward to traveling the world kid free in our 40’s once they are out of the house :-)
Financial Samurai says
Gotcha. There you go! Try to look more at the positives instead of the negatives.
Like you, I bought a larger forever home in SF in 2020 a month after lockdowns, and it has supposedly done well too.
We’re actually planning on traveling the world with our kids before they leave us. I had a lot of fun growing up overseas in multiple countries as a foreign service officer kid. There is also a different type of travel when you travel with your parents and by yourself as an adult. There are fond memories with both courses.
Given we are flexible, our plan is to slow travel during the summers and winters at least for three or four months a year once both our kids are over the age of five. Kids don’t remember much before five, hence the target year. So that’ll be in 2025. Before that, we’ll just do domestic travel.
We definitely wouldn’t have been able to travel abroad for four months of the year, every year, if we had day jobs. I think it’s going to be exciting! Summer in Taiwan or China would be great for language immersion as well. And maybe we will bump into you guys!
Related: Traveling Abroad With Kids
I have a non-typical situation, both from the perspective of being a parent, and being parented as a child.
We adopted our daughter when I was 47. So I definitely qualify as an older parent! However, I don’t feel like an older parent. My daughter makes me feel energized and young.
I run my own business, and at this point in my life, I can take the time I want to spend with my daughter. We’ve travel together as a family quite a bit, exposing her to many other ways of living and thinking. When Covid hit, I decided to homeschool. She enjoyed that so much, that we continued doing that this past year. She’s passionate about soccer, and I can take the time to take her to extra practices and trainings. I’m much more balanced as a person vs. 20 years ago, so I like to think she is benefiting from being parented by a more mature person.
I have spent so much more time with my daughter than if I were a younger parent. I am very grateful for that, and I believe she is as well.
On the other side, my mother passed away when I was 20. Obviously, that was a very difficult situation. Of course, I missed growing to know and understand her as an adult. I’m sure I would have benefited greatly from that. But perhaps because I lived through the experience, and learned from it and healed, I expect that my daughter will do the same if I’m not here for her past her early adulthood.
Financial Samurai says
Thank you for sharing both sides Chris!
And to me, you are a HERO for adopting. Thank you for doing so! And daughter is so lucky to have you!
100% agree! I just watched my 3-year old do a ski race with her preschool class in the middle of the work day on a Friday. We can comfortably afford the time and money for things like this because we had her later in life. There’s really nothing better in life! I look forward to being there for many more things like this over the next 15 years, and then as much as I can get away with when she’s in college.
Margaret B says
Very thoughtful post as always! We had our child when I was 38 and my husband was 46. Because we were established financially and professionally, my husband could take off a full year to be at home. I have been able to volunteer at school in the afternoons. Our decision worked for us. In my 20s I was in grad school, then climbing the career ladder and then paying off student loan debt. One caveat–if you plan to have kids later in life, be sure YOU are healthy. My father died from something preventable at the age of 53. I was only 13. Also, be aware of what kids cost in terms of time and resources. Trying to pay a mortgage, max out your 401K and pay for college tuition in your late 50s can be stressful, so plan ahead.
Financial Samurai says
Very sorry to hear about your dad. Besides cancer, I wonder what are the other things we should really look out for to know that we are healthy instead of thinking we are just healthy.
Living until our kids are 18 to 22 years old is my goal. Unfortunately, not all of us will make it, so we’ve got to cherish our time every day!
I’m 48 and we just had our first child who is 6 months. My wife is 42. Finding the right mate took longer than I had thought and I would have had kids sooner if I could. So some things are out of your control as far as when you’re having kids. With that said at my age, I’ve already traveled the world and done most things I have wanted to. If I was a Dad in my 20’s that would have hindered a lot of things I did.
So having kids at an older age and being more finally secure also helps. When I was really young I was very frugal and now I’m more relaxed. I don’t have to worry how much diapers are and we can get the basics of what we need. A lot of families struggle with that. I do worry about my health and being able to do some activities with my child as I age. Beyond that it has also given me a renewed purpose that was lacking.
If I was in my twenties and married, I would wait until my mid/late 30’s if I had a choice. Either way you do the best you can with the cards that are deal when they are given.
Financial Samurai says
Totally right on doing the best we can with the cards that are dealt.
I’m surprised by some of the negative feedback from e-mail and comments so far, since I already mentioned I’d rather have children 5 years earlier, and that this post is a solution for older parents or older people considering having kids.
But I guess the post hits home and there is a lot of struggles and guilt associated with being a parent, no matter what age.
We’re all on the a journey in this life and we do the best we can at the momement in time. Its easy to look back and say we could have done something differently, because we have more knowledge now. If I had a kid earlier in life than I may have missed out on other things that were more important to my growth at that time.
Caroline at Costa Rica FIRE says
I had my 2 daughters at age 24 and 30 which was relatively young for Type A, 24/7 NYC. It was pretty lonely b/c many of my friends weren’t married much less having kids, even by the time I had my second. My peers had kids a decade or more later and then had each other as a support system. That said, now I’m glad I did it this way b/c my husband and I became empty nesters at 49 and have a lot of energy to focus on our next stage as a couple.
I concur with the other comment above that the most important thing is finding the right person to have a family with. I would also add that your individual readiness to parent (and your partner’s) is critical. I’ve seen parents successful who had kids early and who had kids late, so both scenarios are viable.
I would also caution that considerations are different for the female in the relationship bearing the child. I have female friends who waited till their mid 30’s to 40’s and then couldn’t have kids — even with IVF (which is expensive and difficult and not guaranteed). It does get more difficult to conceive as you age.
In addition, women’s salaries peak at 40 on average (almost a decade younger than for males) so taking time off in their 30’s is much more expensive than in their 20’s.
There are a lot of factors to consider in deciding the optimal time to have a child.
Just my two cents.
Yes, but doesnt take into account technology which makes ppl feel closer now. I chat with my parents and siblings daily in our group chat.
Along with other milestones like being there for weddings, grandkids etc. If everyone waits too long then knowing your grandkids will also go away since we cant live forever.
Also, there are so many reasons women can’t wait as late as men can.
There’s a lot here, but its only looking from the time spent point of view/ being a man who doesnt actually have to carry or birth a child.
Financial Samurai says
I hear you, and have acknowledged I would rather have children earlier on. So please don’t take this post as an affront to you.
And yes, I am only a man and can only pontificate what it’s like to be pregnant. But I am doing my best as a stay at home father to provide for my children, think about issues that may come up, and help my wife live as best as she can.
I had my first child at 43 (boy) and the second ( girl) at 48 My wife is 5 years younger than I. As I write this I am 65, and my wife is 60.
Certainly an advantage from a job security and financial perspective.
When they asked, I told my kids I was 22 and my wife was 21 when they were very young. They told their teachers and friends how “old” we were. Of course they were quite young when they went along. And for my daughter, it only worked for a few years since her brother would not allow it. Every year at birthdays they counted up, until they realized it.
They have been our focus ever since. It is just the way it happened and I have no regret. But The disadvantage is clear. I have one coming out of college as another is applying. Their friends initially think we are the grandparents. And at 65, how many good years do I have left. My 16 yo girl is at the stage she wants no part of us now, and that will last 10 years I hear. So at a time we are retiring, and have a lot of time, we unfortunately can’t get them interested in some of our plans. not even dinner!
We aim to stay healthy as possible, but The next trick is to make sure we do not burden them with our future health problems as they will be quite young.
Props to you Sam for looking for the positives in so many situations. Parenting can be a prickly subject sometimes that gets some people so fired up or accusatory if they see others doing or suggesting things be done differently than “their way.”
In my group of friends, we all had kids in our mid to late 30s. Personally I can’t imagine becoming a father at 23, 25, 27. I was such a different person back then and there’s no way I would be the same quality parent that I am today. So thanks for highlighting the pros for us older parents! I’m sure there are some fantastic parents out there in their early-mid 20s, but becoming a young parent wasn’t for me. I’m glad I waited.
I think the most important decision in terms of having kids is choosing the right person to do it with. Romance is great but when the romance is not what it once was, will you be able to stay committed and put the children first. Work on the marriage to make sure both parents are satisfied and committed until at least the kids are grown. Of course there are times when a marriage cannot be saved.
I am a lawyer and divorce cases with kids are brutal. As you can see with your friend, divorce greatly affects the parental relationship with the kids. Waiting until you are old enough to get the youthful partying out of the way and making sure your partner is the right one is a good idea. Then there are people are are just not fit to be parents (there are a lot of them). Better to not have kids than be a terrible one.
Having kids is a huge commitment and I’m glad I was on the older side before I became a parent. I felt I’d already traveled enough, grinded out the hardest years in my career already, was in a good position financially, and was way more mature than in my 20s.
Everyone is going to feel differently about when to bring kids into their lives, or not to for that matter. And it’s nice to look at the positives of having kids later since that’s where the trend is going, especially in big cities.
Wow great perspective! I never thought about older parenting this way at all. Thanks
We had kids at 30, 33 and 36 years old. I think you are getting side tracked counting minutes. The enjoyment you get from kids is a side benefit, it is not the goal of good parenting and in fact good parenting will involve a lot of unpleasantness, pain and heartache. You have one job, to raise them to be good adults. If you have fun doing that and they have fun that’s great, but it is not even close to the primary goal you should focus on. For that reason the minutes spent are just one tool that may or may not help you accomplish that one job. But it is the job that matters, and it isn’t about everyone having fun all the time. Having raised three millennial kids, now in their thirties, that still love their parents, we’ve got some experience at this. I think the decision to have kids is more a matter of when are both parents ready to commit to one of the hardest jobs they’ll ever have. If that’s a week after they marry or ten years after isn’t important, its when they arrive at the rock solid commitment to do it. Its not something to be taken lightly. Ask any parent who has shepherded kids through the teen years. Babies and adolescents are ridiculously easy to raise, it gets harder, much much harder.
Financial Samurai says
Can you elaborate more on me being sidetracked counting minutes? I thought it was a helpful, analytical way to help older parents who may feel bad about not having children sooner or older people thinking about having children now.
I believe in process. If you put in the time, good things tend to happen. By analyzing minutes, there is less subjectivity and more objectivity. Because of course most parents will think they are doing a great job. It’s just like how many men believe they are doing a lot more around the house than they think.
Following a process or a framework helps build wealth, stay fit, build a business, etc. Hence, I’d love to know more about why being analytical is not helpful for good parenting.
Were you a stay at home dad as well? What were some of the difficulties faced when your children got older?
I 100% agree that “I’m not going to have enough time with my child” is a silly thing to feel bad about. 0 children. 5 children. At age 18. At age 40. These are all totally reasonable choices to lead a fulfilling life, and children grow up into healthy adjusted adults from all sorts of backgrounds. You are correct that somebody who has a kid at 40 and prioritizes time with them will usually spend more time than somebody who has a kid at 18 and doesn’t.
That said, time spent with a child isn’t a metric with obvious analytical value. Sociology is full of conflicting results, but as an example https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jomf.12170 finds no link between maternal time spent with children age 3-11 and behavioral, emotional or academic outcomes (N=1605, so a reasonable sized study).
I have 3 kids 6 and under, so my attention is divided when it’s just me and them. But when I’m paying attention to the oldest, the toddler is exploring, poking at toys, learning on his own. I can’t even imagine how to begin analyzing the proper split between 1) time with parents, 2) time with siblings, 3) time with non-family, and 4) time alone.
Similarly, if I have less time with my children now, but get more time with grandchildren having them younger: how can I possibly say which was the right age? Or the time I had my wife to myself before children arrived? It’s not that an analytical mindset doesn’t have tons of value, it’s just that there aren’t clear objective metrics to maximize in a life, like there is in exercise or personal finances.
If there’s an optimal age to have children, the effect of that variable is minuscule to all the other aspects of how we live our life.
Sidetracked was an unkind choice of words on my part. My point is that to me, the main thing is having kids when you are 100% committed to it, because you know its exhausting and if you aren’t totally in the game you can’t do it right. We didn’t have kids for seven years because we were having too much fun together and we did not want to be tied down raising kids until we were sure we were intensely ready to do it. My wife was a stay at home parent, I was a high earner and she was a low earner and it made more sense economically plus it was what she wanted to do, she did not particularly enjoy her profession, while I loved mine. So while they had less minutes with me I did not work crazy long hours, could take off any time I needed to and my commute was less than eight minutes on the worst of days. So they had lots of time with both of us and almost infinite time with her. My poorly made point is that rather than finances or time freedom being the number one reason to select a time to have kids, I feel like the number one thing is being ready mentally and emotionally for the task. Once that is satisfied those other factors could indeed be very useful. I think a lot of people have had kids thinking it was going to be a pure lark, all fun and no work, and when they see reality, which is wonderful but still pretty hard sometimes, they aren’t up to the task. And that’s just not fair to the children, they had no choice and they deserve first class love and parenting.
Financial Samurai says
“ when you are 100% committed to it”
I think we can all agree to this, if this is your main point.
However, I’m not sure how helpful this is for older parents who feel bad for having kids later or older people wanting kids later.
I would think most people know having kids requires a lot of time and effort. I’d would rather understand the metrics from my post and take action based on the numbers instead of just hear “you need to be committed.”
Prove me wrong, but I’m going to bet you had a demanding job that kept you away from the house most of the week and had a stay at home mother as a partner.
If one is able to be analytical in thought, it’s not a distraction at all. As an older parent, I appreciate Sam’s way of thinking and how there’s always a solution.
I tend to agree with you.
Sometimes Sam discusses his children as if they were his playthings, there for his entertainment. I do not think he intends it to sound that way and I believe he does know his role is to help his kids develop into functioning, well adjusted adults. It’s just that sometimes it comes across as if he is spoiling them and assumes expensive nursery schools and nannies will set them up for success. I hope it all works for them.
Old parents/young parents – matters not. What matters is the understanding of the parent role and how/what one can realistically accomplish, given their lot in life.
I cringe sometimes reading about the weird first world “problems/issues” that keep these affluent Californians awake at night. I am referring to folks Sam interacts with and not him personally. Sometimes one has to just roll the eyes and say – “join the freaking real world will ya? ”
Our kids showed up when we were 22 and 24 (wonder how that happened??) Young couple, naïve as sh&t and pretty poor. We figured it all out and today they are well adjusted adults living on opposite sides of country and making their own ways. Very glad we did not have time nor money to overanalyze every little decision with a therapist. Oh and we are on way to a great post worklife with a high seven figure net worth.
Find something that you are good at that the world wants.
Live below your means and practice stealth wealth
Have a little humbleness and gratitude.
You and your kids will do fine.
Financial Samurai says
This is great feedback ccjarider! I never realized I sounded like I treated my children like “play things” and “entertainment.” Although children are fun to play with, they are very hard work.
Given your comments on spoiling children, as a younger parent who was also “naive as shit and pretty poor,” did you basically just let them fend for themselves? What is it that your children do now?
I do wonder whether parenting doesn’t really matter much at all. As you say, given your situation and the way you parented, your kids still turned out OK. I just don’t think you should fault me or anybody for thinking through situations. That’s like making fun of the kid in class who raises his hand when he has an idea or doesn’t know something.
BTW, you might find that having an eight figure net worth will make you much happier. But it’s easier to do if you had kids later.
I don’t see my children as play things nor do I consider my primary responsibility to parent them to be successful contributing members of society. That’s a shared community responsibility. My goal is for them to be happy healthy and able to pursue their interests. The commentor seems to expect parents to sacrifice their happiness to bear the burden of raising the next doctors etc for society.
wow- very interesting comment that it is society’s responsibility to raise your kids. That explains a LOT of the problems in America today.
If your child’s “happiness” is your main goal – god help your kids. happiness has a very broad definition.
I bet a hooker laying in the gutter high on something is “happy” for a little while even in that condition.
I’m no historian but I do believe the approach of raising children as community-focused vs a nuclear family focused runs longer and was more common in societies. Maybe the problems with America Today isn’t a result of more recent changes, but rather those that occurred prior.
I agree to an extent – using Mazlow’s hierachry of need – yes. Humans needed to band together to fend off violence, gather food and shelter and “better the tribe” and ensure Deficiency needs were met. I do not think Samurai is addressing these needs here.
With regard to the Growth needs of esteem, actualization and being best one can be etc., I cannot see how it would be realistic to assume society in general can be better helping children with these than family and relationships developed with others.
Apologize if I cam across as making fun of you. That was not my intent. You are a very intelligent, well thought out individual who has been very successful. I admire you and would never consciously make fun of you.
I guess this form of communication will always have it’s challenges.
Analysis is important and necessary to succeed – no issue there. The key is determining the valuable analysis and data from the noise.
As to whether our kids were left to fend for themselves? The answer is yes – sometimes.
Our role was to help them understand:
1) basic rules of society and why they exist,
3) the luck the have by being born in USA and the opportunities they have if THEY pursue them intelligently,
3) no one owes them anything
4) have some empathy for those not able nor lucky even Democrats :)
They did ok.
Btw- we had tons of fun and memories along the way and they seem to want us in their lives. I don’t want to come across as if we were slave drivers.
If I had mentioned an 8 figure NW for retirement, you would have come back with nine. Accumulation for sake of accumulation is a losers game.
At our rate of spend needed to be happy, we will likely die with twice as much money as available today. We did fine for us.
Keep up the good work.
I think if we ask your children what they thought of you being poor and not being able to spend as much time with them, they might have a different point of view than you.
It does seem like this post has struck a nerve with you and that’s understandable given your circumstance. But perhaps trying seeing the post from the older parent’s point of view.
Just because you didn’t take your kids as seriously and treated them as entertainment doesn’t mean older, more mature parents, will. In fact, it’s b/c we are older and wiser that we take parenting more seriously.
If you’re feeling bad about neglecting your children when they were growing up, make up for lost time now!
Not everything is a math equation, Mr. Samurai. Don’t you want to see your kids get married ? Don’t you want to play with your grandkids and be a significant influence in their upbringing, as the patriarch/matriarch duo that achieved the success you’ve been working on so hard at ? Steer and guide them as they trek through life ?
The way you put it it’s like you have an expiration date at 18 and then you’re worthless in terms of value that you can provide to the evolution of their life.
Life throws curve balls at all ages, wouldn’t you rather be there for them in their life in such time of need as long as you can ?
And don’t disregard the disconnect when the generational gap is so large, especially with how fast things are moving nowadays.
Financial Samurai says
Do you feel parents who have kids in their late 30s and older won’t be able to see their kids get married?
What’s wrong with doing mathematical analysis with real life analysis? I think being flexible in thought analysis is important. Instead of just winging things, why not sit down and understand the anchors of time?
Please share with us your situation? How old are your kids and how old are you? I think it’s natural for everybody to argue their situation is best. But I always think it’s great to try to understand the other side as well.
I’d rather walk my daughter down the isle instead of wheelchairing along side her.
You had yours at 39, as you’ve mentioned. If they get married at the latest “marriage age” which is roughly 28-33, sometimes even later according to many statistics, then you’ll get to see your kids walk down the isle at roughly… 70 :)
Busting a hip during the dad-daughter dance might not be the best way to enjoy your children’s wedding. According to my math of course.
No, I don’t believe it’s all math, otherwise all these “chart reading experts” and day traders that we see everywhere nowadays would be billionaires and we’d know exactly what the weather would be tomorrow, correct ? Except.. it’s not like that.
Furthermore you cannot quantify experiences, emotions and memories in math.
I’m quite happy with my situation and choices, and I’m not trying to convince you of anything either, I’m simply relaying my point of view on this topic, based on my experiences, therefore details of my personal situation are irrelevant. We can respectfully disagree and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Financial Samurai says
Thanks. But why do you think you’re being rude by saying “busting a hip” and “wheelchairing” at 70 etc?
I’d love to know how old you and your kids are and understand your story.
I’ve found since I started writing in 2009 that comments are often a mirror of how a person is feeling now.
What is it about this post that has upset you? Are your parents OK?
I can feel your pain. I’m sorry if your parents were not around to support you as much as you wanted.
And if you are struggling with the guilt of not spending enough time with your daughter, please just spend more time with her. You will regret chasing the money instead is spending time with her.
Heal up! I wish you the best.
Financial Samurai says
The mirror is real. I don’t think Anthony will share his situation. It can feel uncomfortable to get judged. But I do hope everything works out.
It’s hard for happy people to to hurt people.
Life does throw curveballs all the time. So what makes you so sure that having kids early in the thick of your career when you’re still not very wealthy, the right thing to do? You may have even more struggles, as does seem the case by your comments.
Having the humility to realize that life is uncertain is wise. Try to make the most out of your situation, instead of trying to make others feel bad about their situation.
It’s the difference between a scarcity mindset and a growth mindset.
I had children at 36 years old because I was emotionally and financially ready to have them. I wasn’t willing to have children and not spend as much time with them as they wanted to spend with me.
Actually; it’s easier to treat kids as “play things” and “entertainment” if you’re working all day and letting your wife take care of your kids.
If you actually are a stay at home dad, kids are not “clay things.“ They are a ton of work.
This is one of the biggest Blindspots for fathers and men in general. They think childcare is easy because they don’t do nearly as much childcare as they think they do.
Childcare is easy if you don’t have to take care of your children, or as much.