"I didn't follow in my mother's footsteps because I was only 26 when I had my son, and yet in retrospect I don't really think that I was prepared for motherhood. Don't misunderstand me, I love my son to bits and don't ever regret having him, but if I could turn back time and have the opportunity to make different choices, I think that I would have waited until at least my mid-30s before starting a family. Oddly enough, my husband and I have recently been discussing the possibility of having another child and having had an older mother myself makes me feel so much more comfortable about midlife parenting.
"I respected my parents enormously and they respected me, something that I noticed was lacking in some of my friends' homes. If I was not permitted to do something, my parents would clearly explain why not, whereas many of my friends with younger parents would simply be told, 'Because I said so, that's why.'
"With a 20-year marriage behind them, my parents had managed to resolve any of their differences early on. Many of my school friends lived in homes where it was commonplace for the parents to be at each other's throats constantly and to think nothing of openly belittling each other in front of the children. What sort of message does that pass on to children about love and marriage?
"Although I sadly lost my father seven years ago, I feel eternally grateful that I had the benefit of his love for 35 good years and that my son had a wonderful grandpa for nine years. That's more than a lot of my friends can say, some of whom have very little contact with their parents now that they have flown the nest to lead their own lives and to probably live by the same mistakes."
Sarah, 38, agrees with Jacqueline. "My mother was 46 when she had me and my father had just celebrated his 52nd birthday. They didn't have a lot of money, but what they gave to me in love was priceless. How can you put a value on that?
"Youth isn't always connected to good health either. One of my closest friends lost her mother to bowel cancer at the age of 34. Having young parents doesn't always mean that they will be there for you when you are older, either physically or emotionally. There are many people who are distanced from their parents and in some ways that can be worse than losing someone with whom you've had the benefit of a close relationship. To know that your parents are alive but not there for you emotionally must be devastating.
"It was not a difficult decision for me to delay starting a family of my own, partly because having been the child of older parents, it was not really an issue for me. I witnessed many childless friends around me panicking when they hit 30, conscious that their biological clocks were ticking away. My only concern was declining fertility, but when my husband and I decided to try for a baby two years ago, I became pregnant within a couple of months. Hopefully, our baby daughter will have a brother or sister at some point in the future, but I still feel that I have plenty of time on my side.