Bioethics Blogs

Does late parenthood deprive children of grandparental love?

By Hannah Maslen

In a new post, published by Aeon, I argue that, even if there are moral reasons for and against intentionally delaying parenthood (including, amongst other things, the reduced opportunity for grandparental relationships as a reason against), older parents should not feel guilty if their late parenthood means that their child does not get to know his or her grandparents. Whilst the situation itself might be regrettable (i.e. there might be an understandable wish that things were different), the parent has not deprived their particular child in anyway. Correspondingly, the child has no legitimate complaint (on these grounds) against his or her parent. If the parent had been successful in conceiving earlier, that particular child would not have existed.

Republished in full below:


<p>Many people have fond memories of their grandparents. Some are lucky enough to know them throughout their teenage years and beyond, learning about their lives, what they care about and, more fundamentally, who they are. Grandparents often play a valuable role in raising children, and the relationships children have with their grandparents can be of a unique quality. In the best cases, such relationships lack the inevitable phases of conflict and authority-testing so characteristic of the child-parent relationship, but are full of the same unconditional love.</p><p>Given how valuable the grandparental relationship can be (both in itself and as a support to the parents), should prospective parents attempt, where possible, to increase the opportunity for these grandparental relationships? Is the child denied something valuable if parenthood is intentionally delayed?</p><p>Gillian Lockwood, medical director of the Midland Fertility Clinic near Birmingham, recently expressed this view.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.