By Delaying Kids, Are You Cheating Your Future Grandchildren?

So obviously, we didn’t do the math. But, then again, who thinks about how many grandchildren you’re going to have when you’re in your twenties? It’s really a shame we don’t think about it because it’s an afterthought we can easily live to regret.

We just welcomed into our family our 26th grandchild. At this point, we have nine girls and 17 boys. All, I might add, are under the age of 16. We are counting our blessings—literally.

It’s so easy to get caught up in life when you are young and having babies. We delighted in our growing family, so much so, we “just one more’d” ourselves into nine children.

I like to joke that we started having children really young—like age ten—only because it’s getting harder and harder to lie about my age. In reality, by most standards, we did start young. I was 18, and my husband was 20 years old.

I’m not the only one not doing the math—or thinking about how many grandchildren I would have. Those advocating putting off having children are also not doing it, starting with their own age.

If you started your family at say, age 32, and your son or daughter followed suit, you would be 64 before you saw your first grandchild. Let’s say you had your first at 32, then another at 35. Now you have your all-American boy and girl. Again, by following suit, your children would have their grandchildren when they were 64 and 67.

Now, that may or may not seem ancient. How you view that age totally depends on which side of 40 you’re on. No matter how you see it, it’s a pretty safe bet you’re not going to see another generation grow up.

But here’s the rub: It’s not really about you. We tend to think it is.

Researchers have begun to uncover what many now consider the key to human history and the survival of families across cultural lines. What they found surprised, astounded, and bewildered them; they discovered the value of grandmothers—maternal grandmothers in particular. They began to understand the vital role a grandmother plays within the life of her grandchildren, family, and ultimately society.

Thanks to researchers studying cultures around the world we now know that the presence or absence of a maternal grandmother often meant the difference between life and death for their grandchildren—to the extent that having a maternal grandmother in the child’s life enhanced a child’s prospect for surviving by as much as 52 percent.

Becoming a grandparent isn’t all sugar cookies and free babysitting. Parents are still trying to find their place in the world—even if they put off having kids until later. You can’t wait long enough to have it all together to be ready to have kids, because as soon as you do, the kids will unravel your life for you anyway.

It’s not about cheating ourselves out of being grandparents, or great grandparents. It is very much about whether or not you will be there when your grandchildren need you.