Do The Mathby Mark Gungor on July 17th, 2012
It seems as though too many people in our culture are not able to do the math when it comes to the following simple word problems:
If Person A doesn’t get married and have a child until 30-35 years of age, and then that child also waits until 30-35 years of age to marry and have a child, just how old will Person A be when he/she becomes a grandparent? How old will Person A be when he/she can actually have a meaningful conversation with said grandchild?
Now, let’s change the numbers a bit:
If Person B gets married and has a child at 18-22 years of age, and then that child also gets married and has a child at 18-22 years of age, how old will Person B be when he/she becomes a grandparent? How old will Person B be when he/she can actually have a meaningful conversation with said grandchild?
Maybe it’s not that people are incapable of the simple math required to figure out the answers. Maybe it’s something else. Perhaps it’s that we are thinking wrong about the problem to begin with….or we aren’t thinking about it at all.
For generations people met, married and started their families at a young age. It has only been since the 1970s that the age of first time marriage and subsequent childbirth has continued to climb to nearly 30 years of age. And make no mistake; many people are waiting even longer.
Some want to marry, but haven’t been able to find the one to get hitched to…that’s a whole other discussion for another day. What I am speaking of, is people who intentionally wait to pursue a relationship and marriage until they are 30, 35, 40 or more years of age and then try to start having kids.
The sad truth that these people face is that many will never become parents because biologically speaking, they can’t. Infertility rates climb with age. By the time a woman is 30, nearly 90% of her viable eggs are gone. (See Countless numbers of couples will spend small fortunes trying every procedure known to doctors trying to get pregnant at a later age, and many will never succeed and remain heartbroken along with bank-broken.)
Those who do manage to get pregnant will face higher birth defect rates and complications due to age (of both mother and father) and from the fertility treatments. The fact is, your body doesn’t care that you wanted to wait until you had your career established and money in the bank. Sperm, eggs and biology have no respect for your wishes to buy a nice house and have the bigger car and travel the world or date around before you decide to employ them for procreation. (FYI sleeping around also increases your likelihood of contracting sexually transmitted diseases which can also impact your ability to conceive.)
Let’s revisit our original math problems, shall we? Obviously, by simple addition we find that Person A will not become a grandparent until 70 years of age if they and their child both wait till 35 to have a baby. By the time that child is 10 years old and the grandparent can really talk to the kid and sow into his life, Gramps will be 80.
How much strength, energy and money do most 80-year-olds have for a 10 year old? What is the health like of most 80-year-olds?
On the other hand, Person B will become a grandparent at 44 years of age if both of them and their child give birth at 22. Now, when their grandchild is 10, Grandma is only 54 and, in most cases, has greater health, wealth and energy to give to the kid.
In some cases, when that grandchild graduates from high school, Gram and Gramps A will be about the same age as Parent B is when his own child graduates! Can you imagine sitting at the commencement ceremony and someone leaning over to ask you, “Which one is your grandchild?” Your answer would be, “Oh, no! He’s my son!”
Why the wait, people?
For amassing more wealth? Wealth you may spend just trying to get pregnant?
To “play the field”, or see the world, establish a career and collect things? I promise you that no number of sexual partners, trips, jobs, cars, TVs or other toys will ever compare in value and importance to your children and grandchildren.
I don’t know anyone who would lay their life down for their “stuff”, but they would for those little ones. And a special note to Christians: Our time and purpose here isn’t about materialism anyway.
This is a message that the Christian church must get hold of and buck the thinking of the world on. In this area, we truly have become much too much like them.
Think it through, do the math and give some thought to the way you are thinking about this. If you can still act on the math or teach your own kids to marry and have kids younger, do it. Let’s prove to the world that Christians can still “do the math”.