Include those who marry and have children later in life
Increasing numbers of young adults are entering into marriage at a later age. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that in 1960, the median age at first marriage was 22.8 years for males and 20.3 years for females. In 2002, the median age had raised to 26.9 years for men and 25.3 years for women.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the birth rate for women over the age of 30 doubled in the years between 1981 to 2003.
As young adults set goals and priorities for their lives, marriage and family have just become part of their to do list.
As young adults set goals and priorities for their lives, marriage and family have just become part of their to-do list. Many have waited years and achieved numerous other goals before finding the “love” of their lives. And many more would have given anything to have journeyed through those days and years with a soul mate.
I didn’t plan to be a part of this trend, but God had other ideas. I married when I was 39 and our adopted son was born the year I turned 40. Actually, establishing a family in more mature years runs in my family. My parents and my grandparents were all older parents. If one of my grand- fathers had been alive when I was born, he would have been about 96.
Sideline challenges add additional stress to a seemingly latent quest:
- The reluctant loss of interest or enthusiasm others feel as the years pass and their wonder wanes.
- The feeling that single folks acquire the wherewithal to encounter marriage and family without additional support as they achieve other milestones and career competencies.
Suggestions for your congregation
Have you looked at your congregation or church directory to consider the age range of parents with young children? How can you demonstrate full-hearted acceptance of all parents, regardless of age?
Here are a few suggestions.
- Be mindful that those who marry and become parents in later age experience the same joys and challenges younger parents encounter. Recognize their milestones with special prayers and blessings.
- Regard couples of all ages entering into marriage and/or family with equal measures of appropriate sensitivity and support.
- Plan occasions, programs and events for singles, married couples and parents who are in similar stages of life. (But be careful in your promotional references to specific parent groups!)
- You might also promote or sponsor other organizations that offer opportunities for fellowship in your community.
- Be mindful that some parents are single parents. God can richly bless both parents and children in such families.
- Offer support and encouragement where needed.
- Provide references in your church library that address the joys and challenges of encountering marriage and family later in life.