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Popular Science: How old is too old? Ideal age of parents according to children

What should be the ideal age of parents at childbirth? Many people deal with the question by starting a family, a team of scientists affiliated to the Department of Demography and Geodemography of Charles University in Prague-Jiřina Kocourková, Boris Burcin and Tomáš Kučera and Hana Konečná from the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences of the University of South Bohemia decided to focus on this topic professionally. A unique feature of this research was the fact that its respondents were children. The team has published the results of their work in Reproductive Biomedicine Online.

A discussion on the age limitation of assisted reproduction is connected to the ideal age of parents when a child is born. Should there be a maximum age limit? As we can read in the article, in the case of the Czech Republic the limit is 49 years, but in some other countries the limitation can be higher or none. So the question is whether the parents at this age will be able to take care of a child till adulthood or, more generally, what is the ideal age to have children.

The authors performed unique research among children and young adults aged 11–25 and asked them how old their parents should be according to their own opinion. The sample was a total (after excluding non-complete questionnaires) of 1 181 respondents, 745 girls and 436 boys. More information was included, for example the real age of the respondents’ parents.

What were the results of the research? Respondents would like to have parents on average two years younger than they really have. They also preferred a smaller age difference between the mother and father, on average 2.5 years. From the total sample, 89% of the respondents would like to have a mother under 30 at the time of birth and 94% a father under 35. 

Preferred and real age of mother at the birth of child.
Source: authors of publication

The comparison of the real age of mothers at the birth of their child to the ideal according to children is also interesting. In 2011 most of the children (37%) were born to mothers aged 30–34, but according to the research children would prefer mothers aged 20–24 (43% of the children), followed by 25–29 (35% of the children). Similar results were also seen in the case of fathers. 

Preferred and real age of father at the birth of child.
Source: authors of publication

What was the reason for preferring those ages? The most common reason was the fear of losing their parents, followed by the opinion that a bigger difference between the parents and children could cause problems in understanding each other. There was also a concern in the case of younger fathers if they would be able to play sports with their children. 

The article pointed to the problem of an “ideal” age of childbearing from a new point of view, from the ones who weren’t asked before – from the children’s point of view. Nevertheless, from the parents’ point of view the ideals concur with reality and the birth of a child is given mostly after the mother’s 30th year, when the parents are more prepared for the child and are also more financially secure.


Jiřina Kocourková, Hana Konečná, Boris Burcin & Tomáš Kučera (2015): How old is too old? A contribution to the discussion on age limits for assisted reproduction technique access, Reproductive BioMedicine Online, 30, 482–492.


Published: Jan 05, 2017 01:20 AM

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