I will sometimes get questions from members and I do my best to answer them all. This week I received an email from Tom D.

“Have a question about the meaning of the phrase ‘was not between 16 and 45 when children were born in marriage.’  When bringing up “possible record problems” in my personal ancestral file this phrase pops up frequently.”

Interesting question. Many genealogy programs do this sort of thing.

Genealogy software programs often come with data integrity checks or “possible problems” alerts.  In this case, there are parameters pre-set to check if a birth fits the norms based on the age of the mother. Biologically, exceptions can occur, but the program is telling you that it’s possible there is an error in your data because of the mother being less than 16 or more than 45 years old.

You can ignore the alert if you are certain the birth date of the child and age of the mother is correct. Or, you may choose to re-evaluate the dates entered in the program to see if there is an error.

If you seem to get the error frequently because in some time periods and cultures it’s more common to marry at ages younger than 16, you may wish to change the parameter in the program to say 14 or 15 and then you won’t get the warning message as often. To change this, (assuming you have PAF 5), from the File menu, select Print Reports. Then go to the “Lists” tab. Under Type of List, select “Possible Problems.” Then click on “Options.”  You will see the ages that you can change to anything you want. Here’s a screen-shot:

PAF Possible Problems List

The default settings shown above can easily be changed, but you first need to know where to look. It is not easy to find. I was a little surprised to see the default Father’s age parameters set the same as the Mother’s. Is it just me?