Most Americans Say Women Should Have a Baby by 25: Agree or Disagree?

Photo: Shutterstock / The Bump
Photo: Shutterstock / The Bump

Kiss your 20s adieu, baby, because apparently Americans think that the best age to have a baby is when you’re 25 — or younger. According to the most recent Gallup poll taken of 5,100 men and women between the ages of 18 to 45, a mere 58 percent say that yes, if you’re a woman, the time to be a mom is at 25. Nothing like a little Carpe Diem to get your reproductive organs going, huh? For guys, though, the ideal time to test your daddy skills out is when you’re 26, or older. (Are you scratching your head yet? Because I am.)

In response to the study, the authors stated that the numbers likely reflect “the greater relevance of women’s biological clock when it comes to childbearing. However, on average, the mid-20s is seen as the ideal age for both genders.” But delaying parenthood, the authors found, was contingent with education level, meaning the more time you spent in school (and the higher your education was), the less likely you were to start family-planning in your mid-20s. Instead, Americans with higher levels of education are more likely to believe women should wait until the age of 26 (or older) to have children.

Don’t believe me? Here’s what the poll shows:

gallup poll

Hell, even grandparents think you should start making room for a baby sooner. According to the study, 72 percent adults 65 and older are the most likely to believe that women should start having children before they are 25. 59 percent of adults aged 50 to 64 agree: Baby should come sooner. “Some medical experts say the best age for a woman to have a child is in her late teens or early 20s, because that is when she has the best odds of conceiving a healthy child,” the survey states.

Here’s where I (and women) take issue: Having a child is a decision you have to make when you’re emotionally, financially and mentally ready to take on the sleepless nights, cracked nipples, dirty diapers and overwhelming barrage of cuteness that will be your life for the next 600 years. That and, oh, the fact that you’ll have given birth and be completely, utterly responsible for the well-being of another human being. It’s a big job. It’s not some rash decision you can make on the fly and deal with the consequences later. It’s not something that should be taken lightly. It’s important. Raising a child is the most important role you’ll ever take on, bigger than being CEO of the company or being head of the PTA, so why rush it? Just because a Gallup poll foolishly thinks that the best age to become a mom doesn’t mean that it’s the best age for me, the woman next to me, or the woman who’s 33 and reading this and been struggling to conceive for the last five years. How do you think that makes us feel? (Hint: Not great!)

For a lot of women, being a young mom works well. It’s what they want. And because it’s what they want, then great for them. But for other women, being an older mom is the best decision they’ve ever made. Why? Because, surprise!, it works for them. And again, because it’s what they want, who can throw shade at that decision? And then there’s that percentage of women who have no clue when the hell they’ll be ready for motherhood so they just throw caution (read: condoms) to the wind and go for it. These women are also great. But in no way, shape or form should any woman feel the pressure to be a mom when she’s 25, or even earlier than that.

Here’s a few fun facts: I still haven’t paid off my college loans. I still haven’t properly figured out the best way to defrost a chicken when I’m crunched for time. I can barely plan my own meals, let alone set aside organic options to puree baby food so my child can eat. I still call my mom when something doesn’t work. I can’t even afford Coat Check when I’m out at the bar, so how the hell could I afford childcare? I don’t think that qualifies me as “Ready for Motherhood”, but if I wanted to have a child, then to hell with it all! Why? Because it would be my decision and not due to the fact that a group of 5,100 men and women think that I’m wasting my time defrosting chicken, obsessively Swiffering my apartment (what? I like the smell, okay?) or eating Cheez-It’s for dinner (the Cheddar Jack flavor is my fav, though!) when I could be having a baby.

It makes the whole foray into parenthood feel rushed, don’t you think, by telling women that ‘Hey, your peers feel like you’re royally screwing up! Why haven’t you had a baby yet?” It’s my own decision, my own body, my own baby. When I’m ready to hike that hill, I’ll let you know, America.

Do you think people feel pressured to become a mom at a young age?

Plus, more from The Bump:

5 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Trying to Conceive

Fertility 101