Certainly, among many 20-somethings — or, at least, the 20-somethings in this office — the "ideal" age to have children is getting later and later. To quote one staffer, "Right now, rent-drinks-shoes > babies." Once upon a time, girls got married and had kids straight out of high school or college; nowadays, it's pretty normal for millennials to think of their child-bearing years as a sort of vague future-time that will be dealt with...later. Hey, we're busy, alright?
But, according to a new Gallup poll, that opinion is not shared by the majority of American adults. 5,000 adults of various ages were asked what they thought would be the ideal age for a man and a woman to have a child. 58% answered that ladies should be punchin' 'em out before age 25. For men? The majority said 26 or older — white people and women, in particular, held this view.
Even more surprising? Apparently, it wasn't just the old ones who think women need to have babies before 25. According to Gallup, "solid majorities of adults aged 18 to 29 (60%) and 50 to 64 (59%)" all agree that 25 or younger is the sweet spot. People aged 30-49 were most likely to be in favor of women delaying having children after 25.
So, what does it all mean? Well, first of all, we need to take this time to throw in a necessary 30 Rock reference. Cerie, the airhead prone to uncomfortable truths, once said that she wants to be a mom "while it's still cool." Young motherhood is, undoubtedly, a bit of a cultural fetish centered around a glowing, exuberant, Crewcuts-shopping woman (who is probably also laughing while eating a crisp salad). Gallup also notes that while birth rates here have declined, young people still show interest in having children. On the other hand, popular opinion — in cities, at least — seems to be that women should feel totally okay waiting to have kids, even if it makes the whole biological process more difficult. And, we're willing to bet that the people who answered the poll with 25 or younger as the ideal age would also agree that a mother should be able to support herself in a competitive workplace with a college degree, work experience, and possibly even higher education. It sounds like we are, as a people, torn between dreamland and reality. We want "women," the abstract demographic concept, to have kids early. Just as long as that means we ourselves don't have to deal with it until we feel ready. (Gallup)