Spinsters and Middle Aged Mothers On the Rise

Unfortunately, many women – well educated, independent women like myself — still feel pressure to conform to the rather aggressive timeline society seems to have devised for our lives. Apparently we should marry in our mid-twenties, pop out a kid a few years later, maybe take a break from work until the little dears are in school, and 20ish years later bask in the glow of being a grandma. Definitely great for some, but as two recent trends confirm, not for all.

“Older” Mothers

According to the CDC, more women are putting off pregnancy until after the age of thirty. Granted, this trend could increase pregnancy-related health complications, but in general, it seems to bring more benefits than harm. Early pregnancy, especially teen pregnancy, can have detrimental effects not only on young mothers themselves, but also on the national economy.

Lately it seems women and men alike need an array of degrees in order to earn a decent salary. Young mothers, whether they’re in their teens or early twenties, are faced with the extreme difficulty of completing their education while raising an infant, which may complicate their ability to secure quality employment capable of supporting both themselves and their families. In many cases, it’s not even an option for women to stay home while their spouse or significant other — if he or she exists — brings home the bacon. The economy has made it a necessity for everyone to work regardless of gender or marital status.

It’s no surprise then that young women in their twenties seem to be completing their education, taking time to establish some sort of economic stability, and only then deciding to become mothers. The result? More children being born to mothers with greater emotional maturity and sound financial footing. Not half bad in my book.


Some women are deciding to delay pregnancy, others are deciding to delay marriage or other substantial relationships — indefinitely. WYNC’s The Brian Lehrer Show recently did a segment on the large number of single women living in New York City’s five boroughs. Apparently, 1.5 million women 15 or older — 42% of women in NYC — have never been married. This puts the number of unmarried women in New York higher than in any other city or state in the U.S. Despite the prevalence of being single in NYC, women still face a stigma regarding their relationship status, as WNYC’s Ailsa Chang explains below:

We keep a lot of judgments about religion, skin color, sexual orientation mostly to ourselves, but single women constantly hear that happiness and meaning are only possible through pairing with someone — that you’re better off in a couple than being alone.

Do women really need a man (or another woman) to be happy? At least some female New Yorkers don’t think so. Here’s a reaction from a Brian Lehrer Show listener on the idea of re-claiming the traditionally negative word “spinster”:

I’m thrilled as punch to be single and…have no interest in getting married — ever. I’m 55 years old. Uh, love the word spinster — could care less. I agree with…Ailsa…It says more about the person who’s saying it than…the person who they’re saying it to. I’m a happy, single babe. I’ve traveled the world, I love my work, and life is exciting.

Well said, Bernadette from Manhattan. Women’s life choices are just that: choices. What works for some — marriage, kids before 25 — in no way should be imposed upon us all, regardless of popularity or what the general consensus deems appropriate.

What do you think?


Related Stories:

Can Women Have It All?

Men Struggle To Have It All, Too

Christian School Fires Teacher For Out-of-Wedlock Pregnancy

Photo Credit: LCSTRAVELBUGGIN via Flickr


Ronnie C.
Ronnie Corral5 years ago

There is NO TIMELINE I wuz Married very young in an abusive Marriage I am now over 40 & SINGLE SO WHAT!!!

Prentise W.
pre,tpse w5 years ago

Before I married at age 23, I was already being treated like an "old maid" and people were asking me when I was going to get married; not one person asked me if I was happy, before or after my marriage.

Robert Pavlick
Robert Pavlick5 years ago

Robert C, the world needs more people like you and your wife. I agree with you 100% and I also admire the fact that you both obviously PLANNED YOUR LIVES. Your lives were not just one enormous accident as so many others that I encounter on Care2 who have nothing but lists of excuses for their messed up lives and their desire to put the blame on everyone else.

How did you do it? Are you descendants of a long line of of Super Men and Super Women? Are you from another planet ? How did you manage to NOT have children without resorting to 27 abortions or going on State to finance 27 illegitimate children? Inquiring minds need to know.

Robert C.
Robert Cruder5 years ago

The U.S. is belatedly following the pattern of Japan, then Scandinavia, then southern Europe.

One need only present women with an alternative to being baby factories.

Some will favor quality over quantity by having fewer or having them later.

Some will have none at all because they can contribute far more to this world in other ways.

Some will delay or have none simply because they and the available men must first provide a stable life for themselves before promising to do the same for offspring.

My wife and I were in that third category and after enough child-free years we chose to join the second.

It is the breeders who must justify pumping more bodies into a world that cannot provide for those already here. When will they remind their preachers and mullahs that sheer number of offspring is also the goal of the rats and the cockroaches?

Lynn Squance
Lynn S5 years ago


I was told that God put me on this earth to have babies.

I don't know, nor will I ever know, what I would be like had I married and had children. However I do know that I am who I am --- a self-confident woman who gets along with many types of people; a woman of integrity; an intelligent woman with varied interests; and as I have said "I have never kicked a dog or a kid". I think Lee W said it best "To be single and happy is a gift, not a curse!"

Life is what you make it! Doesn't matter if you are married or single, have children or not. Life is what you make it. Happiness is contagious!

Lynn Squance
Lynn S5 years ago

I am a 60 yr old single female and I like it that way. The only one's I have to answer to are my 3 cats! I've always said I was married to my work, and I know that my career would not have been as possible had I been married, with or without kids. I am a management banker and was subject to transfer within BC at very short notice. After seeing my parent's marriage dissolve after 12 years, and knowing my mother's mother was divorced, I knew I wasn't willing to put kids through that --- in my 1962 10 yr old head, I equated marriage and kids almost as one. So I have never married. Like Gene J, I didn't think anyone would want to put up with me! It isn't selfish --- it's practical. How I structure my time is my business as long as consider my 3 fur kids. When I bought a neew bedroom suite 40 years ago, a co-worker said to me "Why do that? You're just going to have to get rid of it when you marry." I believe in enjoying life, don't wait for things to happen or 50 years later you'll still be waiting. I still have that bedroom suite! A young child was in the bank and digging up all the interior plants so that there was dirt all over the floor. I spoke to him sternly and then escorted him back to his mother. The customer I had dealing with watched the antics and then told me I'd have more patience with my own kids. I announced that I wasn't having any to which I was soundly chastised and told that there was something abnormal about me. I was told that God put me on thi

Robert Pavlick
Robert Pavlick5 years ago

Spinster is fine. Bachelor is fine. Middle aged parents for the first time? Not good. That's what my parents did to me and consequently I have spent most of my life without them. It's far better for parents to be younger when they are raising young children and to live long enough to BE THERE for them at special moments in their lives like graduation from high schools and colleges or for their weddings.

It's also not wise for a woman over 35 to be having children due to possible complications or health issues for the child that could last a lifetime.

Lauren B.

15 or older? Since when is that the normal time for young women to marry? Let's see the stats from 18 on and get more realistic. I'm a real spinster, 65 and never married, happy as I can be.Life full of work and family, lots of kids to love and hang out with, friends, adventures. No complaints at all!

Robert Fitzgerald

This is another area where women's roles are defined by the current masculine paradigm. It is supposed that all women would feel better bonded to a man. Many of us, even women, cannot conceive of a single woman living her life without a man. Yet, the diversity of types within each gender dictates that there should be women who would prefer such a lifestyle.

We live in a time when relationships are in flux, and the answer to this situation is not necessarily to go back to the old ideal of a woman protected (and often abused) by a man. There is a revolutionary energy that is infecting relationships the last 200 years that indicates that future relationships will embrace a wide variety of bonding as well as independent possibilities as normal. The revolutionary changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution and 20th Century is also seen in relationships and the inclusion of LGBT marriages and single parent families into a new relationship norm.

Susan T.
Susan T5 years ago

I recently spoke with a young woman in her late 20's who told me that she and a number of her friends do not want to have children (at least as of right now) - but their primary reason is the economic reality that this country seems to be going to hell when it comes to life for a middle class family.

The GOP rattles the cage every other day about changing Medicare to a voucher program, the social security trust box has been pillaged time and again, the banks keep getting bailed out while homeowners are foreclosed upon, and the cost of a college education and student loans keep going thru the roof. She said she didn't feel right about bringing a child into this reality. How would she afford college for her child? How would she afford retirement - would she have to sacrifice it to pay for college?