A friend, who shall remain nameless, sent me the following link, along with the rather breathless “omigosh, he’s at Albany Medical College and a medical ethicist! Do you know him?!” question.
I honestly don’t know how to reply (politely; the rude things pop to mind right away, of course), so instead I’ll ask the question that pops to mind: is it really a matter of how old is too old for society? Does it really matter that 1/3rd of the children in the USA are being raised by a grandparent/someone over 60 – does necessity necessarily necessate action? (Just because something is being done doesn’t mean it should be being done, after all.) And why shouldn’t we put limits on when people should or should not have children? What about the physical distresses of pregnancy? Isn’t there an obligation to the child? (Can you imagine what the generation gap would be like?)
Questions like that could be asked all the livelong day, though, and from what I’ve seen via Google News Alert lately, have been. I think what I’m more interested in is this notion of the society being ready. What reasons would it not be ready? We expect people to be mothers young, but that’s slowly changing as more women build careers. Yet we certainly expect women to stop having kids once biology kicks in – or once they get to be a certain age, where we begin to think that it would do more harm than good for the child to have a parent of that age.
And parent, I think, is key. We have a different cognitive category for parent versus grandparent; yes, both are caretakers, but the way we name our caretaker still means something. It seems to me that grandparent implies a categorical and functional difference than parent (even if technically speaking, the roles are the same). It’s certainly a way to acknowledge age gap and experience differences, but I wonder if there’s more to it than that?
Maybe there is, maybe there isn’t – I just felt the distinct shutting down algorithms for my thought shutting down, which means this is going to go nowhere fast. I suppose, though, that the age difference, physical differences, and simple fact of statistics leads me to intuit that we should have limits on this sort of thing, and that if society has decided “too young”, (which we have), then it should not be terribly difficult to decide “too old”, either.