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Children of Older Parents Have Fewer Behavioral Outbursts

My husband and I are one of those couples that became parents much later in life than most. Having gotten over the distress of being called “grandma” and “grandpa” early on when we would take our then-toddler to school, we always thought that overall, our now 16-year-old, benefited from the “worldliness” of her older parents.

A new study seems to indicate that we were right. The study, published recently in the journal Child Development, found that children born to older parents had fewer problematic external behaviors, such as anger and aggression.

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In a press release, Marielle Zondervan-Zwijnenburg, lead author and researcher on the project, said that the results suggest that older parents don’t need to worry about their ages so much when it comes to “externalizing behaviors,” which is good news since people are increasingly having children later in life.

“Evidence points to an association between fathers’ age and autism spectrum disorders and schizophrenia, so we wanted to know if there is an association in the general population between parents’ age and common behavior problems in children, beyond the clinical diagnoses,” Zondervan-Zwijnenburg said. “With respect to common behavior problems, we found no reason for future parents to worry about the harmful effect of having a child at an older age.”

Co-author Dorret Boomsma, professor of biological psychology and behavior genetics at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, said in the release that the kids of older parents may be better behaved because the parents have more resources or a higher level of education.

However, Boomsma did not rule out other factors, saying those aspects cannot “completely explain the decreased levels of externalizing problems in their children.”

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