Personality Traits of Only Children Born to Older Parents

While the vast majority of children are born to parents under the age of 40, it is becoming a bit more common for adults in their mid-forties, fifties or even early sixties to become first time parents.   A child born to such parents will probably be an only child.  This article offers a few opinions on the personality traits of children born to older parents.

The Parents:

People become parents beyond what is usually thought of as the child-bearing years for many different reasons.   A couple who had previously decided not to have children may change their minds.  Perhaps the couple met and formed a commitment late.  Maybe one or both partners had a previous marriage that ended without producing children.  The couple could have had a long struggle with infertility or battled other health concerns.

Money and the desire for stability or a lengthy college career could have pushed a couple to put a family on hold.  Perhaps a woman who wants to become a mother but has not yet met the right partner chooses to have a child on her own.  Whatever the reason, more people are becoming first time parents at an age when their peers have teenagers or perhaps are becoming grandparents.

Parenting is always exhausting no matter how old the parents but there are some extra challenges facing those people who become parents past 40.  Fertility is a weighty concern.  The chances of conceiving decrease with age and the risks of miscarriage and of birth defects increase with age. Pregnancy takes a toll on a woman’s body.  In most cases a woman of 45 does not have the same muscle tone, skin tone, joint health and so on that a 30 year old woman does, and therefore the strain of pregnancy is likely greater.

The risk for pregnancy complications like placental abruption, preeclampsia, uterine rupture and gestational diabetes increases with age.  Problems with fertility, greater risk of miscarriage, higher chance of birth defect and increased concern about pregnancy complications all mean that any child born to older parents will likely be an only child.  Children born under such circumstances may follow a different development path than their peers.

The Child:

Children born to older parents are almost always conceived by conscious decision.  The pregnancy and child are typically strongly desired and “accidents” are relatively rare, though they do happen.  There are both positives and negatives of such a situation for the child.

Possible benefits and positive personality traits:

    • More parental involvement
    • Responsible, mature, settled parents
    • A financially stable home
    • Comfortable being the center of attention
    • Emotional sensitivity to the needs of others at an earlier age
    • Fondness for order and routine, which can help a teen avoid peer pressure and alcohol and drug use
    • Preference for a few close friends versus masses of superficial friends.
    • Decisive and strong willed
    • Strong appreciation for family
    • Clear sense of right and wrong closely aligned with parental values
    • Responsible, independent, ambitious, conscientious and careful.
    • Protective of their parents, of themselves, of their prized possessions and of their privacy
    • Content to be alone, not dependent on others for entertainment
    • Comfortable interacting with adults at a younger age than their peers



Drawbacks and negative personality traits:

  • Unrealistically high expectations from parents
  • Too much adult attention
  • Overindulgent parenting
  • Stubbornness
  • Easily hurt by disapproval
  • Nervous and anxious to please
  • Easily crushed by parental disappointment
  • Feel obligated to be exactly what parents expect
  • Uncomfortable with conflict
  • Rigid and controlling

Every person, parent or child, is different and no two homes are alike so the traits listed are merely possible.  Not every child born to older parents will be rigid, stubborn, spoiled and stressed nor will every child be mature, responsible, independent, ambitious, conscientious and careful.  These traits, both the negative and the positive, are not unique to only children, either.

Spoiled selfish children and well adjusted, responsible, confident children can occur in any household, no matter how old the parents or how many children the family has.  Generally, though, only children of mature parents do seem to be more comfortable with adults than with age mates. They also typically engage interactively with adults at an earlier age than their peers.

1 response to Personality Traits of Only Children Born to Older Parents

  1. My husband and I have only one child. We both knew early in our marriage that we only wanted one. Our daughter is 11 and I am in my mid 40 and my husband is in his early50s. We are well aware of the sterio type of having a only child. We make it a point not to spoil our daughter she is caring kind and compassionate. What i have noticed however is when she is with a group of girls she is more independent and doesn’t require the group to decide what to do next. She decides on her owe which can make her the odd girl out because what she will want to do may not be what the group wants to do. The good news though she is ok with it. I have found though she seems to do best in small groups one on one and prefers not being the vented of attention. The hardest part I find is how unkind adults can be because there is always a sigh from adults when she says she is an only child as if they feel sorry for her and her family. If you ask my daughter she is fine happy confident and well adjusted. And she is nota spolid brat.

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