The parenting of preschool children by older mothers in the United Kingdom The parenting of preschool children by older mothers in the United Kingdom
The parenting literature has focused on teenage motherhood but less is known about older mothers. In industrialized societies more women are giving birth later in life. The study examined whether there are any age trends in the use of discipline, home organization, provision of learning opportunities, maternal responsivity and mother child relationships treating maternal age at birth as a continuous construct. The sample was from two national UK cohorts with common assessments at three years (N = 24,610). Withholding treats or attention as discipline and parent/child conflict decreased as maternal age increased. Harsh discipline such as smacking was low for teenage mothers, highest in the mid-twenties after which it declined. Household chaos decreased with maternal age up to age 30 after which it was likely to be higher. Positive and responsive parenting generally increased with maternal age up to about age 40 after which it plateaued. Thus overall, while older motherhood is associated with medical risks for mother and child it should not present problems in relation to parenting during the preschool years.