Waiting To Have Kids: Good For Your Career Or Too Risky?

11/17/2011 09:02 am ET
  • Nataly Kogan Co-Founder and Chief Happiness Officer, Happier, Inc.

A friend of mine was visiting this weekend. She just got engaged and we were sitting around talking about wedding plans and our other friends who recently got married. One of them is an uber-successful career woman, someone who has always been very ambitious. My friend who was visiting said that it made sense to her to wait to have kids until your career is more established. She told me she has no idea how I've kept it all together with my previous insane job, now running a company, and taking care of my daughter. She herself doesn't plan on having kids for a while.

My daughter was born when I was 28. Our family comes from Russia and this is considered an ancient age to have your first child. But among our friends we were definitely on younger side when we became parents. I thought about how having a child would impact my career but I grew up with young parents and I've always wanted to be one. Same for my husband.

I'd be lying if I didn't sometimes think that having a child later in my life, after my career and my business were a bit more established might have made things easier. I would be able to get more done, stay more focused, and probably make more progress quicker. But I remember the chart that my OB gave me once that showed how the difficulty of getting pregnant and the chance of various health risks for the child and mother increase pretty steadily as the woman gets older. I have friends who've been trying to get pregnant for years and they are just a bit older than me. They would give up their career success in a minute to have a healthy child.

My friend who is thinking about having kids later in life so that she can get more established in her career is not alone. The average age of first-time mothers has been steadily climbing in the US, from 21 in 1970 to 25 in 2005. Any woman reading the endless articles about moms opting out of the workforce or employers cutting back on maternity benefits is right to consider how her career might be impacted by having a child.

Did you think about your career when you decided when to have kids? Do you think having kids later in life is a good way to boost your career?


For more of Nataly's thoughts on the work-life juggle, check out The Work It, Mom! Blog.