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Parenting in Your 40’s

Born in ‘63 & Parenting in ’13

When I was 25, I thought by the time I was in my late forties, I would be focusing on the lives of my grown children, waiting to become a grandparent. Like many of us, I came later to marriage and raising children than I had expected. My husband and I ended up building our family through open adoption. In a few weeks, I will be turning 50. At the same time, my kids, 10 and 12, will be entering the turbulent world of adolescence.

Most of the time I forget how old I am, since my world is full of iTunes, Pixar movies, Nintendo DS’s, iPads, and the constant chauffeuring to practices, school events, and play dates. On these outings, I often envy the endless level of energy I see coming from much younger parents, but I also overhear how distressed they can be with time management, deadlines, and the unexpected child meltdown.

As an older parent, I can feel fatigue kick in sooner and find myself trying to stay awake past the kids’ bedtime. (I can’t tell how many movies whose endings I’ve missed because I drifted off to sleep!) I find I need the caffeine jolt to rise and shine in the morning and know I need to make time to take care of myself so I can continue to keep up with my children.

However, I’ve thought about what I see as some advantages for those of us who are older parents and have been “around the block” a few more times.

1) Older parents are able to manage “parenting moments” in stride and with humor.  We have other life experiences requiring deadlines and stress and know when (and when not to) to hit the panic button.

2) We do a great job juggling the demands of parenting because we have established networks of other parents who are equally gifted and are able to step in when we are in a pinch.

3) We’ve figured out how to balance life, work, and personal needs and know that some moments are priceless. Many of us have had a career or two and can make the time to enjoy the new discoveries our children are making. Professionally, we’ve climbed up and down the ladder and now choose when to make lateral or vertical moves. We feel more confident in our work lives and maybe able to create personalized work schedules to accommodate the needs of our children.

Most importantly, we have lived our lives and have our identity and can let go and empower our children to discover and create their own world.

And, yes, there are hurdles, too. We know we need to embrace all the wonderful technology to keep us on task, on time, and plan out our lives more.

My husband and I laugh a lot more and don’t take ourselves or life too seriously, which I guess is the best way to raise our children, embracing and taking life one day at time.

Roberta Havens, MEd, has been deeply involved in the local adoption community for many years. She co-founded the Bay Area Families In Adoption Play Group (BAFIA) in San Francisco and previously was Executive Director of Open Path and The Family Building Resource Organization of Northern California. She has presented at many regional and national adoption conferences. Roberta served for 20 years as a school administrator and continues to work in education. Currently, Roberta lives in San Francisco with her husband, Eli, and their son and daughter.

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