Mothers, how does your age affect your children?

May 12, 2017 Providence Health Team

Mothers, how does your age affect your children?

A recent study suggests that children raised by "older" mothers exhibit fewer behavioral problems than those raised by "younger" mothers. The benefits were most notable among younger children, leveling off by the time the children reach 15 years of age.

Researchers at Aarhus University in Denmark surveyed 4,741 mothers between the ages of 17 and 47. They recorded instances of mothers verbally and physically correcting their children at ages 7, 11 and 15 years old. The researchers were looking to discover a) if older mothers disciplined their children less, and b) whether less punishment translated to better-adjusted kids. Indeed, the results proved that older mothers tend to punish their children less – and their children exhibit fewer behavioral, social and emotional difficulties as a result.

Throughout the course of the study, researchers noticed that “harsh” discipline followed a curve. Teenage mothers practiced a lesser amount of verbal/physical punishment, mid-20s mothers punished most often, and mothers over age 40 punished the least. What was described as “positive and responsive” parenting steadily increased until age 40 and then leveled off.

This study by no means indicates that the younger mother is inferior. It merely demonstrates that less punishment correlates with improved well-being in children and that older mothers are proven to punish less.

“We know that people become more mentally flexible with age, are more tolerant of other people, and thrive better emotionally themselves," says Professor Dion Sommer of the research group. "That’s why psychological maturity may explain why older mothers do not scold and physically discipline their children as much."

The results of this new study show a correlation between psychological maturity of the mother and the social and emotional development of the child. In spite of biological risks of delaying pregnancy, being an older mother does offer advantages to young children.

Did you grow up with an older mother?

Are you one yourself? Share your story below.

About the Author

The Providence Health Team brings together caregivers from diverse backgrounds to bring you clinically-sound, data-driven advice to help you live your happiest and healthiest selves.

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