Parenting makes you miserable, but you think it makes you happy

Discuss

115 Responses to “Parenting makes you miserable, but you think it makes you happy”

  1. Deidzoeb says:

    Is this a partial repudiation of that book about getting the baby to sleep the whole night through at only eight weeks or eight months or whatever? (Not the article but the lead-up to it.)

  2. Anonymous says:

    In response to Johnny OC:
    I agree with you 100%!!!

    “..and I’m really getting tired of the modern couple with kids and their pretentious, smug, and prejudiced attitude about other couple’s choices of not having kids.”

    Amen to that! I hate people asking me when I’m going to have kids. I’m not. It’s not my dream in live to procreate. And should I ever feel the urge to have kids, there are so many children in this world who need good homes. With THAT said, I do feel bad for people who can’t have children, but to not adopt because you can’t is COMPLETELY selfish and arrogant. Your genes are not so amazing that the world will end if you don’t reproduce. Make a difference in a child’s life. Be UNselfish and open your home to someone already in need of your love.

    “As for other reasons for being childless: Maybe, God forbid, they know that they are not cut out for the task, no matter how they slice it and take the responsibility of passing and being the best supporter of the extended family unit they can be. You rather have a couple who are terrible parents because it’s “required” in some way that they need to breed?”

    I know that I am not cut out to be a parent…not because I’d be a bad one, but because I have seen a lot of bad things in this world, and wouldn’t want to bring a child into it. Besides, if you don’t like kids, crying, screaming, pooping, whining, vomiting…why put yourself through that? Or why put your significant other through that? It lasts forever. You con’t just give a child back if you decide it’s not for you. Unfortunately, not more people think about these things before popping out a few babies. And what about the burden it places on society if you can’t afford to pay for your little bundles of joy? Why should, one who has consciously made the decision to not have kids, pay for yours? THAT definitely causes misery.

    “..they couldn’t find anyone who regretted having kids, although there was an abundance of people who regretted NOT having kids.”

    I would have to think this is a little biased. I mean, did you talk to the teenagers who had babies at 15 and 16? Or the drug addicted women who got knocked up? Do we honestly think they didn’t regret their choices? C’mon. Again, should I ever feel the need to care for a child, I can adopt…even when I’m old and grey.

    I am not some wacko, pretentious, selfish whatever because I don’t think everyone should have kids. I definitely don’t think it should be pressed upon me to do my “womanly duty” and have what one of you so colorfully called a f**k trophy…which sometimes it seems that is what children are to some people.

    I am not ending the human race because I don’t want kids. I think those baby makers that pop out a few will cover for me.

  3. davidasposted says:

    Oh, I forgot to add “socially irresponsible”. That too.

  4. Alan says:

    I think it’s an issue of attitude. My wife and I have three kids, one in college and two in high school. I’m not gonna pretend it’s been easy and all good times, but overall it’s been great, and we feel we’re happier with the kids than if we hadn’t had them. But then we are determined to enjoy parenthood, to be involved, to work out situations, respect them as individuals, to view our children positively and to raise people who will contribute positively to society. We all get along fine, the kids never fight and openly express that they love each other. It takes a lot of work, but the payoff is much greater than what we put in.

    A few years ago I worked for a woman who always ragged on her daughter, always exclaimed she didn’t know what she was going to do with her, had constant fights, all in later elementary school years. Of course the girl got older and the rift between them widened, but I really think part of it was that the mom just gave up and decided that it would be a rocky relationship and based everything around that. And she was miserable as a result.

    By the way, I eschew parenting books and the miserable mom read every single one she got her hands on.

  5. Amphigorey says:

    Thanks to everyone in this thread, I just filled my Breeder Bingo Card!
    http://7deadlysinners.typepad.com/sinners/2006/04/breeder_bingo_c.html

  6. Ambiguity says:

    As a rule, most studies show that mothers are less happy than fathers, that single parents are less happy still, that babies and toddlers are the hardest, and that each successive child produces diminishing returns.

    Speaking as the parent of two children (whom I love dearly):…I hope researchers didn’t spend a lot of time on figuring these things out.

  7. rebdav says:

    Having kids is fun, a super pain in the neck, and if you are strictly Darwinian your only real job, everything else is just a hobby.

    That said I should have thought long and hard before involving my sweet librarian wife in a breeding scheme resulting in a house jammed full of brilliant spaz kids with my very dominant ADHD gene.

  8. Lester says:

    Of course they say it makes them miserable, to cherry pick from the article:

    Perhaps the most oft-cited datum comes from a 2004 study by Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Prize–winning behavioral economist, who surveyed 909 working Texas women and found that child care ranked sixteenth in pleasurability out of nineteen activities. (Among the endeavors they preferred: preparing food, watching TV, exercising, talking on the phone, napping, shopping, housework.)

    I love being a parent, but parenting sucks. I’d much rather cook, shop, exercise, nap(!) and vacuum than parent (in the sense of the word as a verb). Parenting is exhausting and it makes you do things you’d rather not. It is hard work disciplining a kid without losing your temper.

    Being a parent is one of the best things in my life.

  9. Sekino says:

    What I’m finding out is that there’s nothing like being a soon-to-be parent to get a full sampling of self-righteousness and negativity from BOTH the parents and non-parents crowds. I guess human nature is human nature, child-free or not.

    I wonder how much of the parenting misery is due to the neurotic pace, fear-mongering and resentment that comes from trying to keep up with OTHER parents’ antics. I’m already avoiding parenting sites and blogs because most of them are judgmental TOXIC whine-fests, with non-stop feuding, shrieking and one-upmanship. It seems the ‘parenting culture’ is all about tearing each other to shreds!

    You’re a bad mother if you work full-time, you’re a disgusting cow if you breastfeed in public, you’re a nutcase if you stay at home, you’re a neglectful criminal if every inch of your home isn’t covered with little plastic baby-proof doodads… This is all from the mouths of parents to fellow parents! Many parents feel they have to wallow in that environment, make ‘new parent’ friends, listen to every armchair advice, read 1500 “you don’t know what you’re doing” books, keep the house Martha Stewart-clean and get your kids in advanced schools by the time they’re 3…

    I’ll do like my own mother and avoid that crowd like a zombie plague. It did wonders for her (and me).

    Then, there’s the no-kids people who ASSUME that your kid will, by default, be a monstrous, loud, obnoxious, stupid parasite who will ruin the Earth and trample their flower beds (I dunno, I was actually a very quiet, nice kid, never wrecked anyone’s lawn, and my carbon print is pretty darn low… Why couldn’t my offspring be also a good person?)

    But I’ll say we’ve personally been luckier with that crowd. We’ve only had one set of friends who, over dinner, talked at lenght about how they’d never have kids, that they couldn’t understand why anyone would want the mess, the indignity and the noise, how awful kids generally are… We still don’t know if it was one of those “oh, but not YOUR kid” conversations or if it meant we wouldn’t be invited for BBQ again for the next 18 years :-/

    Kids might suck sometimes, but adults are pretty tough competition in that area.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Ha! I knew I was right take that ex!

  11. bklynchris says:

    Did not read each and every one of the 84 comments so not sure if mentioned. BUT…..each of you hatin’ on the kid thing in the USofA.

    Who do you think is going to be footing your social security check when you come of age? Unless we figure out a way to humanely start eating our children, the least they can do for us is start adding to the community coffers when they come of age.

    And, yeah, I am a parent.of two juicy, juicy, delicious looking roast, er I mean, children.

  12. apoxia says:

    Reminds me of the excellent graph I’ve seen of marital happiness for couples with and without children. The no-children couples maintain high levels of happiness throughout life. The couples with children show and a sharp and sustained drop in marital happiness that raises again when the children leave home. As someone without children and reaching the age when I’ll have to make some decisions regarding whether to have children, the evidence against having children is stacking up! But also having worked with older adults with dementia, those without children are generally much less well off in terms of someone looking out for them. Hmmmm…

  13. Anonymous says:

    I find some of the comments here surprising, to say the least. If your parents hadn’t had you, you wouldn’t be there. No one has to have children, but to those who want to – go ahead. Have one, two, three, four, or twenty. Just make sure you’re able to bring them up and don’t dump them on social services.

  14. robulus says:

    Anyone who makes any argument that having kids is right or wrong, in and of itself, with no other qualifiers, is an ass.

    So that’s quite a lot of assery in this thread.

    • Brainspore says:

      Agreed. I’ll add a few more:

      • Anyone who offers unsolicited advice to another person about whether or not they should have children is an ass.

      • Anyone who would presume to dictate how many children another person should have or how they should decide to have them is an ass.

      • Anyone who uses terms like “breeder” or “childless” as insults is an ass.

      • Anyone who insults children for acting childlike is an ass.

      • Anyone who makes sweeping statements about complex topics like adoption without having any personal knowledge of the subject is an ass.

      • Anyone who tells another person what should or shouldn’t make them happy is an ass.

      • Anyone who assumes that people who makes different life decisions than they do are wrong/unhappy/unfulfilled is an ass.

      • Anyone who assumes that everyone who makes different decisions than they do is secretly judging them is an ass.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Well, at least you can physically have children. My wife and I are at the beginning stage of figuring out we may not be able to.

    Count your blessings.

    • joncro says:

      Hey Anon, I know how you feel. We adopted two wonderful kids, so don’t feel left out – you can be just as miserable as the rest of us parents if you want to!

  16. Razzabeth says:

    I’m really getting tired of the modern hipster mentality towards not having kids. I think it doesn’t make any sense, it is pretentious, and it will be very harmful to our society in the long run.

    I am reminded of the scene in Idiocracy where the woman of the “smart” couple says, “We couldn’t possibly have children now, not with the market the way it is.” For those who haven’t seen the movie, it is for reasons like this that “smart” dies out to be replaced by a society of idiots, logic being that the dumb produce unfathomable amounts more offspring than the smart. A classic case of smarties being too smart for their own good.

    I’m all for reducing population. I think people having more than 3 kids (on purpose) is dumb, too. We don’t want to breed more than we can feed. But, too many people getting a negative view of having children will put a burden on society as well. Look at Japan. There is a serious lack of young folks, leaving old folks untaken care of.

    And if you manage to wade through this whole depressing article, they do tack on at the end the fact that in one of their surveys, they couldn’t find anyone who regretted having kids, although there was an abundance of people who regretted NOT having kids.

    • Anonymous says:

      I have known since I was a child myself that I do not like being around children. Because of that, I am one of a small but growing number of people who has chosen to remain childfree. I do not see how that is pretentious. Had I chosen to have a child in order to satisfy the expectations society places on women I would, then, have been pretentious. I am not a hipster, nor am I selfish. I would be a bad mother and I would hate every second of it, although I would do my best. My life is in no way empty or lacking meaning. I enjoy who I am and if, at the end, I am alone, then I will rejoice in a life well lived and be as happy in my own company as I am now when I am alone.

    • Dovanna says:

      There is nothing wrong with someone choosing not to have children, and not all childfree couples are pretentious jerks. Just like not all parents are pretentious jerks. I hope you meet some.

    • Andrew McNicol says:

      “I’m really getting tired of the modern hipster mentality towards not having kids. I think it doesn’t make any sense, it is pretentious, and it will be very harmful to our society in the long run.”

      I totally understand where you’re coming from here and I do have similar concerns – the world in Idiocracy was terrifying!

      However, the ‘reproducing so there are more people like us’ mentality is a major factor in overpopulation. I believe X so I will raise eight children to believe in X, etc.

      I think it’s much more responsible to try and change society in other ways, without bringing a new life into the world.

      If you genuinely want to have children for non-selfish reasons, that’s great! But if the reason is (consciously or not) to build numbers of believers in your own personal view, then it is a worry. Not to suggest that this is what you’re advocating exactly, but it’s certainly encroaching on that territory.

      “. . . people having more than 3 kids (on purpose) . . .”

      I would have said 2!

    • erissian says:

      So, just to be clear, people without children are selfish and will bring the downfall of society as evidenced by a work of fiction and satire whose premise relied on the long-outdated Lamarckian theory of evolution?

      I think I might disagree.

      • Razzabeth says:

        Not selfish, per say. Pretentious.

        And this excludes couples who can’t have kids, of course.

        Also, the intelligence of the children isn’t necessarily because of the Lamarckian theory. It’s a proven fact that children from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds have an average income/intelligence level that is lower than their more privileged peers, for reasons that aren’t genetic.

        Idiocracy is so scary because of how plausible it is. So, smart people, please get to breeding already!

        • MrJM says:

          If you really think you are one of the “smart people” who will save us from Idiocracy, I suggest you reread your posts and then reconsider your position.

        • davidasposted says:

          I think it’s morally reprehensible to birth kids while parent-less children await adoption. Would you argue otherwise?

        • freshacconci says:

          So, you choose not to have children, you’re pretentious? There’s no legitimate reason for someone to decide to not have children?

          • Anonymous says:

            No, it’s people on both sides who tell others either to have kids or to not have kids who are pretentious. If you don’t want to have kids that’s your choice. Just don’t preaching about it to people have made the opposite choice. And I’d say all those things the other way around. No one should tell someone they should have kids.

        • erissian says:

          In the conversation between people making their own reproductive choices and the people telling them what they should be doing, I don’t usually think of unwarranted self-importance as describing the latter.

          Idiocracy is not plausible. We humans have been progressing since prehistory. Not only that, but people as a whole are getting smarter – even the ones from disadvantaged families and countries. Despite the thousands-of-years-old complaint that the coming generation is lazy, inept, and wild, our children (for those of us who choose to have them) will excel despite us.

        • Cheqyr says:

          Razzabeth: and I’ve lost my patience with those like you who pretend to be concerned childless couples because their childlessness is “harmful to society”. I think they’re *really* just concerned about middle-class white people with similar politics not having kids, because they don’t want to face a future overrun with scary brown people.

          Regardless of the means of birth control used, this is a choice issue, and you express one of the worst kinds of anti-choice attitudes there are. One that comes not from regard for babies or even sincere religious motivation, but from your own selfish desires. Why the hell should people have kids just to make *you* feel more comfortable?

          Social engineers of any stripe always seem to think they know better than everyone else. Which makes them the worst sort of people to be put in charge.

          Get out of my bedroom. And stay out.

    • nemofazer says:

      Wow. I am completely incensed by your judgmental comments. How fucking dare you! I do not like kids. I have never liked or wanted kids. This would make me a terrible father. My wife does not want kids either. We are not pretentious. We are however very happy together just the two of us.

      On the other hand we’ve rescued several dogs and cats from shelters because we feel an affinity for mistreated animals. We’re no better or worse than parents. We’re different and we are true to ourselves.

      I really don’t know why I am this way. Probably due to a miserable childhood. Whatever. I’m ok with it and I feel I’ve helped out the planet by not being part of the population problem. Not a reason for being child free, I’m not that altruistic. Just a side-effect.

      • Killgore9998 says:

        @erissian @JohnnyOC @Cheqyr @MrJM @freshacconci @Dovanna @nemofazer
        By impotently raging at Razzabeth’s comments, you have demonstrated guilt of the very things that you’ve accused her of, i.e. being close minded and judgmental. Even worse, you had to twist and misinterpret her point in order to make it appear that you were justified in doing so.

        errissian started by overgeneralizing and misrepresenting her point in order to create a straw man, which apparently succeeded in convincing the rest of you that she is insane.

        Allow me to clarify: no one is saying that you’re pretentious if you cannot or choose not to have children. You ARE pretentious if you choose not to have children based on some wishy washy research purporting to accurately and objectively measure something as intangible as ‘happiness’. Such a person is no better than those who follow every trend, every popular diet and fad in nutrition and health, based on any study done as long as it was published somewhere. Such behavior is pretentious because these people talk loudly about how they’re doing it for the sake of their health, when in reality they just want something to talk loudly about so that they can attempt to soak up more attention and praise.

        Feel free to not have kids. No one is ‘in your bedroom’, no one is trying to force you to do anything, so just relax. Live however you want to live and make your own decisions. Only please, please don’t make decisions like this lightly, like after reading some spacious study on some blog somewhere. Make your decisions based on what you truly want, deep down, and everyone will be fine. Not to speak for Razzabeth, but I’m sure she and I are just trying to keep you from making a decision you’ll regret down the road just because some moron with a clipboard claimed to be able to tell you what to do in order to be happy. In other words, exactly the same thing that you just violently accused Razzabeth of trying to do to you.

        • querent says:

          “Allow me to clarify: no one is saying that you’re pretentious if you cannot or choose not to have children.”

          Really?

          @8 “So, just to be clear, people without children are selfish….”

          @9 “Not selfish, per say. Pretentious.”

          Having kids hijacks a person’s brain. This is well known and makes sense. Priority shift. It seems to often times result in righteous indignation that others would choose otherwise. Dunno bout all that.

          Oh yeah, and correlation is not causation. If it appears more dumb people are having kids and smart people are choosing not to, it maybe because not having kids leaves one more time to better oneself.

          I am being restrained. I was also angry at the tone and implications of the original comment (@4).

          • querent says:

            Yeah, some of that came off pretty vicious.

            I’m not implying that people with children will be less intelligent or well developed as a rule.

            Peace out.

        • Razzabeth says:

          Arrrg, thank you Killgore! I’m so happy that at least one person on the internet gets my point.

          Although I did giggle at the fact that those people think I’m going to sneak into their bedrooms, put a gun to their heads, and make them make babies. Who do they think I am, Warren Jeffs?

        • MrJM says:

          “I’m sure she and I are just trying to keep you from making a decision you’ll regret down the road”

          Here’s a tip: Mind your own f’cking business.

    • JohnnyOC says:

      “I’m really getting tired of the modern hipster mentality towards not having kids. I think it doesn’t make any sense, it is pretentious, and it will be very harmful to our society in the long run.”

      ..and I’m really getting tired of the modern couple with kids and their pretentious, smug, and prejudiced attitude about other couple’s choices of not having kids.

      I think it doesn’t make too much sense (since there are 7 billion people in the world and your kid, as for the law of averages isn’t going to really have an impact), and it will be very harmful to our society in the long run (resource depletion, pollution, etc.)

      “But, too many people getting a negative view of having children will put a burden on society as well. Look at Japan. There is a serious lack of young folks, leaving old folks untaken care of.”

      First of all, it’s not a negative view that I see. It’s a REALISTIC view. I know plenty of friends and family that know this data, go in clear-eyed and prepped and still want kids. It’s really not going to change anything.

      You honestly think that we’re going to have a under-population problem? You have to be kidding me. I would love to see the human race go into the 2 billion range. The species would have a much better chance of survival with using less of the earth’s resources.

      As for other reasons for being childless: Maybe, god forbid, they know that they are not cut out for the task, no matter how they slice it and take the responsibility of passing and being the best supporter of the extended family unit they can be. You rather have a couple who are terrible parents because it’s “required” in some way that they need to breed?

      They could of been abused as children and want to stop the circle of abuse right then and there. Maybe genetically they have a propensity for depression, alcoholism, dementia, or some other disease and don’t want to pass that off to the next generation. Your prejudiced attitude of just lumping all childless people into one group is appalling.

      As for the declining Japan fear, some theories as to the way the population decline is because of 1) economics (living in one of the most densely populated areas in the world is brutal and insanely expensive to raise a child 2) past gender repression and strict genre roles which women are just recently getting out of, so therefore there is a backlash against motherhood which could soon correct itself and 3) xenophobia. You think America is brutal with their view of immigrants? They have nothing on the Japanese who has a very strict policy of letting in any large migration of foreigners. In most instances a freer policy adds significantly to both population growth, workforce, and to ethnic diversity.

      Don’t you think it’s easier to not go against the tide and have kids? It’s not like there is a childless explosion of couples and the “end of days”. Look at all of the cultural benefits that are reinforced through the media, tax breaks from the government, time off from work where a childless person would never get, etc. besides the evolutionary completion of your brain chemistry and genetics saying that breeding is “right”.

      “..they couldn’t find anyone who regretted having kids, although there was an abundance of people who regretted NOT having kids.”

      There are other anonymous studies that say otherwise. Actually admitting to something like this is akin to saying you’re a mass murderer for fun and profit and like to kick puppies that you set on fire in a SS uniform.

      As you noticed from my rant above, I know some childless couples who are friends of mine that, surprising like kids, and are great people, and seeing such bald-faced prejudice really ticks me off.

    • Anonymous says:

      “I am reminded of the scene in Idiocracy (…) it is for reasons like this that “smart” dies out to be replaced by a society of idiots, logic being that the dumb produce unfathomable amounts more offspring than the smart. A classic case of smarties being too smart for their own good.”

      I would argue with “for their own good” part. As the society I live in won’t crumble for demographic reasons during my own life span, and my childlessness would affect only future generations (if anything), my own good isn’t endangered. My well-being, way of life and model of society will remain until I die, and it’ll begin to change with future “idiotic” generations. But that would concern only my offspring… and because I don’t want any, my (non existing) children wouldn’t be harmed by my decisions. And why should I care for other people’s hypothetical kids? :)

    • Anonymous says:

      Then again, it could be mother nature’s way of insuring that people who are only concerned with their own happiness don’t breed out of control.

      If some people would rather be happy than reproduce, I say go for it. Just quit shopping at toys r us when you turn 21. I’m really sick of trying to find a nice toy for my kid, only to find that some adult-o-lescent has driven the price up to collectible status.

  17. MollyMaguire says:

    The most important question to ask is not ‘are you happy right now’ but ‘would you do it all the same way again’?

    • Unmutual says:

      I dunno . . . sometimes I look at decisions from the perspective of an elderly person on their death bed.

      Would that person wish they had gone out drinking a bit more often?

      Would that person wish they had stayed late at the office just a little bit more?

      Would they wish they had made a little more money?

      Or might they wish there were a few more people to come visit them in the hospital?

  18. Anonymous says:

    My wife and I have two dogs. They are a pain in the ass.

  19. ultranaut says:

    It is hard to overcome the moral imperative. The earth is pretty fucked, our species seems in line for a massive die off, our civilization is crawling towards dissolution. Having a child in these conditions is not conducive to creating a child which is socioculturally beneficial. The odds are it will be another hellspawn sucking at the disease corporate teat.

  20. Anonymous says:

    This is not exactly news. The fact that parents are unhappy, but retrospectively embellish the experience of raising children, was covered in the book Meanings of Life by Roy Baumeister, published in 1991.

    @apoxia: The book also mentions that married people without children are happier than married parents. However, this stems from a selection bias: having children makes unhappy couples more likely to stay together, so the only childless married people who stay together are the happy ones.

  21. Daemon says:

    I love cognitive dissonance. It does the most interesting things… and I’m pretty sure it’s got a part to play here.

    Everyone knows raising kids is a wonderful experience, right? I mean, that’s the message culture shoves down our throats our whole lives.

    When you raise a kid, and it fails to actually make you as happy as it should, CD kicks in, and convinces your brain to reinterpret things a bit.

    Throw in a healthy dose of buy-in…

  22. Anonymous says:

    You want to have kids? Great! Having kids makes you happy? Great! But don’t assume everyone is as enchanted with your kids as you are. Don’t assume the world should revolve around them. Don’t assume childless people are empty and lost without mini-mes to give meaning to their lives.
    To each their own. But please keep your own to yourself and let us who choose to be unencumbered not deal with your choices.

  23. Anonymous says:

    As a miserable single kid coming out of a reasonably happy home and the brother of two wonderful moms, one single and one married, I’d have to suggest that you’ve missed the crux of the article, which is basically that economic factors dominate the parenting experience. If you can afford to have kids, on average you’re going to enjoy them. If you’re struggling to survive with kids, obviously you’re not going to enjoy them. It’s not complicated. My little sister improved her life dramatically by moving from Ontario to Newfoundland, despite not significantly changing her work cycle, simply because she could suddenly afford to live and take care of her family again.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Bear in mind, this is the work of an *economist* – a discipline with zero predictive power. Take it with a big pinch of salt, and don’t let it affect your decision to have/not have kids.

  25. l0b0 says:

    For much more about how we really feel, try Daniel Gilbert’s “Stumbling on Happiness” – Really good book.

  26. alisong76 says:

    Not selfish, per say. Pretentious.

    Oh, screw you. I don’t want children and I never have. That doesn’t make me pretentious, it just makes me somebody who doesn’t want children.

  27. Antinous / Moderator says:

    Look at some of the terrible reason that people have children. Pleasing a spouse, pleasing other relatives, holding a marriage together, creating a replicant, failed contraception. Every one of those reasons is a ticking time bomb because the chances of prolonged success are minimal. If the only people who had children were people who really, really enjoy spending time with children, parents and children would be much happier. Those are the people who should, natural or adoptive, have a dozen.

    • Anonymous says:

      Try to find a good reason to have a child and then say it and you will always come off looking shallow or worse. You want someone to love? Buy a puppy or get a date. You want to instil values? Become a teacher or keep yer gd views to yerself. You want to please your spouse etc.
      SImple fact is: there is a biological imperative to have kids. And when you have children and you are anything resembling a healthy individual you do love your children and you do find joy in raising them.

      It is difficult. It can be very unpleasant, but so are a lot of things that people find rewarding. Standing in the cold to buy concert tickets or delayed muscle soreness from exercise come to mind.

      This sort of analysis applied to healthy/unhealthy lifestyles would probably rate a rich, fat opium addict with no supply problems as happier than a fit triathlete with varied interests and a challenging and stressful job. Sometimes your kid gets sick or gets lippy or even crashes the porsche. These things can be upsetting, but I don’t think they nullify the happiness. Far from it. This economist needs a new model for his assesing happiness.

    • Anonymous says:

      And instead we select for two factors: wealth or psychological need.

      Every more-or-less-deliberate teen mother I’ve ever met has one overarching feeling: I want someone who *has to* love me.

      Rich people, no matter how smart or dumb, have always had kids as either fashion accessories or living embodiments of their frustrated dreams.

      As a British economist, this guy’s opinion isn’t surprising. What surprises is how the Brits manage to survive at all, given their overwhelming hatred for younger generations. You’d think they would stop reproducing altogether. ;)

  28. Amphigorey says:

    I had myself sterilized when I was 24. Reading the article made me even more thankful and pleased that I made the right choice.

  29. tiberius says:

    Cory, please tell me this was a rare event. I am using your parenting posts as a “parents’ canary” ever since you recommended this book (you kindly posted the review 4 days after our son was born – good timing!). The method worked like a charm for us.

    Tell me the problem-free sleeping does not stop at some point, as we have engineered our life around this :-)

  30. simonbarsinister says:

    I know I am just one anecdote, but I am happiest when my large clan is running circles around me screaming and laughing and fighting and singing. I often join in the hullabaloo until I am too tired to continue.

    When I get home from work my wife says ‘tag, you’re it’ and the kids all climb up me like I was their favorite tree-house.

    What the hell else would I do with my time? Watch TV?

    • Anonymous says:

      Watch TV? Is that the extent of your life outside of being a parent? How sad. For you and your kids.

      There are tons of things you could do other than watch TV if you’re not a parent. You could mentor to a needy kid, foster puppies, sit with the old and sick, create things in your studio or workshop, teach community classes, volunteer at a soup kitchen, sleep in, go on vacation, go shopping, invite friends over for a party, protest the clear cutting of old growth forests, picket on the Gulf coast, help clean birds, volunteer as an animal educator and go around to classrooms teaching about various animals, go Geocaching, go for a bike ride, go boating or swimming or fishing. Should I go on? Life is full and beautiful and vast. If you limit yourself to your kids as the end all be all of life not only are you doing them a great disservice, but you’re also doing yourself a major disservice as well.

  31. Anonymous says:

    I can see why people wouldn’t want children… It relies on an huge, life changing leap of faith.
    The concept that if you have children you will fall in love with them, you will almost certainly not regret it and be less depressed one day despite a life of sacrifices… it all makes little sense. When parents insist that you don’t know what your missing, while wiping a screeching infant, who doesn’t think “WTF you patronising tool”

    It’s absurd that someone would choose to be subjected to all the stress, boredom and drudgery of spending their days parenting… but they do and they wouldn’t change it. However illogically and unfashionably there’s something going on that doesn’t make to sense …. which is why I had 3.

  32. BQAggie87 says:

    I would like to second the notion that parenting sucks, but being a parent is a blast.

    I love it when all of us are sitting around watching a movie or hanging out on the beach or playing a game.

  33. omems says:

    I think authors of such studies should disclose whether they have children.

  34. ubernym says:

    If you are lonely, get a dog. If you have marriage problems, get counseling or get out of that marriage. Having kids will not make you happier.

    There are some aspects of being a parent that I simply do not enjoy, ever. Like changing diapers, or disciplining our son when he disobeys. Rearranging our schedules and our free time in order to take care of a helpless little person was not fun, either.

    The truth is that being a parent is mostly quite tedious. Know what else was probably pretty tedious? Painting the Sistine Chapel. Writing the 9th Symphony. Writing Hamlet. In longhand.

    I’m glad I didn’t have a kid just to be happier or to have fun, because I would have been very disappointed. Has my happiness increased? Probably not in any measurable way. But I do believe that my happiness (or perhaps my contentedness) has deepened in a way I can’t explain.

    Put another way: I love my spouse dearly and have great feelings of companionship and loyalty in connection with that relationshiop, but these feelings are nothing compared to the feelings I have for my son. I can scarcely describe the intensity of emotion that I feel whenever I even think about him. No doubt this is some neurological response programmed in my DNA from my ancestors’ hunter-gatherer days; whatever the cause of these feelings they are intense and overwhelming and terrible and wonderful and I wouldn’t trade them for anything at all, ever.

    I would change a million horrible diapers just to see my son smile and kiss me on the cheek one time.

  35. badtux says:

    Just in case someone actually believes there is a correlation between socioeconomic class and intelligence — I taught school for three years. The smartest child I ever taught was the son of a drug dealer in the inner city. The dumbest was the son of a wealthy city councilor. By “smart”, I’m talking about the ease with which the student learned material new to him. My basic conclusion was that intelligence is randomly distributed amongst the population as recessive genes and pops up at unexpected times when a couple of genes happen to run into each other. In short, upper-middle-class professionals failing to have children is unlikely to have any repercussions insofar as overall supply of smart people in society is concerned. Idiocracy was, in the end, just a movie — an idiotic one at that. The fact is we have no shortage of human beings on this planet, and as long as we provide a good education for all of them regardless of family income, we will have plenty of smart people to lead civilization forward.

  36. telefunkal says:

    The responsibility for one another thing is a strong bond that goes beyond happiness, in my opinion. You could end up supporting your kids and denying yourself the life you could have lived. Or you could end up depending on them like you could never envisage with friends or social services. It’s a lottery, but you’re in it together.

    It’s certainly a valid choice not to have kids, too. But I feel in my case that I’m prepared to take a certain amount of difficulty, even unhappiness, for the long-term reciprocal security that being a part of a close family offers.

  37. CH says:

    Parenting has been hard, and *very* hard at times, but miserable??? No, honestly, no. I’m not a child person, never was and never will be, but parenting my own child is something totally different than trying to tolerate everybody else’s bra… children.

    I wouldn’t call it rewarding, that’s a bit too grand a word for me, but I would call it hard work with lots of fun. I get to teach my daughter all the things I loved as a kid. Get my behind kicked on XBox games. Get to teach her my love for all the wonders of the world, science, books, sci-fi, all things geek… and get to learn what things she loves and follow her growing up to such an amazing little person that she is. And just do things together! Yesterday and today we painted her picknick table, tomorrow we are going to start planning her playhouse and go get some lumber so we can finally start building it… I have no idea how to build it, but we will figure it out together!

    //CH, a very happy mom to an amazing little 7yo girl

  38. Anonymous says:

    Bullshit. I’d die for my kids and wouldn’t trade them for the world. Every night I watch him falling asleep and look forward to our new adventures together. Maybe my wife and i are in the positive bell curve of bullshit?

  39. shadowfirebird says:

    +1 for the idea that being a parent isn’t fun. Unless you’re the sort of person that gets a kick out of bossing small helpless gullible people around, of course, in which case I tentatively suggest that you shouldn’t be a parent.

    Admittedly there are moments of wry pride when your offspring demonstrates an understanding of the universe the exceeds your own. But mostly it’s reluctant bullying and pretending that you know what you are talking about. And not sleeping much.

  40. snarf says:

    Being a single dad of two kids (5 & 8) every other week, I gotta say : having kids is awesome!

    While it can be a serious hardcore challenge to your lifestyle and they can stress you out like nothing else on this planet, you grow with the task and that will in turn make yourself awesome too!

    I have had moments of such incredible spectacular happiness that would never have existed without the kids, so I regret nothing.

    In the words of Butthole Surfers in Sweet Loaf:
    “Daddy, what does regret mean?
    Well son, the funny thing about regret is,
    It’s better to regret something you have done,
    Than to regret something you haven’t done.
    And by the way, if you see your mom this weekend,
    Be sure and tell her, SATAN, SATAN, SATAN!!!”

  41. Caroline says:

    As a non-parent, my observation of parents is that the day-to-day work of parenting is often tough, stressful, and demoralizing, but you get huge rewards at unexpected times when you see your child learn something new, choose to be compassionate, think for themselves, and generally surprise you with what an awesome person they are.

    I can’t quite grok it, and I don’t think anyone can unless they’ve experienced raising a child. The only thing In my experience that I can liken it to is scientific research. The day to day work is often frustrating, dirty, and stressful, when everything seems to be fighting you (though there are bits you really enjoy) — but the rewards come when you see something unexpectedly click.

    And like scientific research, parenting isn’t what everyone wants to do, and that’s okay (even if some researchers and some parents think otherwise).

    On another note, Anon @ 3 — I am so sorry for you and your wife’s struggle with infertility. It’s such a hard place to be. My heart goes out to you; I wish you all the best.

    “Just adopt” is a well-meaning suggestion, but it’s not that easy — while adopting can be a fantastic thing for those who choose it, it’s not an easy fix when you’re grieving the idea of having a biological child. The adoption process is a journey unto itself, not just a way to get a child. It has to be a journey you want to take.

  42. knappa says:

    Man, nothing like a parenting article to bring out the hate.

    I question the original linked article: People don’t tend to remember happiness all that well. Pain and misery, however, get etched into your brain forever. For example, my daughter was colicky (uncontrollable 4 hour crying for no apparent reason every day) and it was like torture. She grew out of it (she’s 9 months old now) and is sweet as is humanly possible, but if you ask me about kids I’ll still tell you about the colic first.
    Perhaps we are seeing this same effect in the surveys?

    • Unmutual says:

      I question the original linked article: People don’t tend to remember happiness all that well. Pain and misery, however, get etched into your brain forever.

      Actually that’s not really true at all.

      I was taught in college that people are more likely to suppress bad memories and remember good ones. But the research I’ve seen since then is mixed between that and that they are as likely to remember good as they are bad, but in any event, the severity of the emotion has the most impact on the retention (although that does not reconcile with people who have suppressed extremely traumatic experiences).

      But I’ve never seen anything to support what you said. My professor explained it like this:

      Your brain forgets unpleasant stimulus as a coping mechanism. Even when you remember it, the severity decreases over time. But pleasant experience tend to stay the same for much longer.

      It’s why couples who break up tend to get back together . . . after a while you forget or trivialize the reasons for the breakup, but you remember the good qualities of the other person so fondly.

      The article touches on this too, in that parents who have run the gauntlet of early childhood have now largely forgotten those late nights where they were ready to hurl themselves, or their child, off the roof of a tall building because of sleep deprivation.

      • knappa says:

        This:

        http://boingboing.net/2007/04/28/stumbling_on_happine.html

        was related on the topic of inaccurate memories of happiness. Also, PTSD is a well known disorder which involves recurring bad memories.

      • tizroc says:

        I never felt bad getting up in the middle of the night to take care of the baby. Not once did I groan. I am a little odd to be sure, I was a male in highschool who wanted to have kids. I used to dream about being a father when I was in middle school and highschool.

        The problem isn’t the kids, that is for sure. The problem is the majority of the American parents. They are so self involved with their own lives they cannot see the joy in what they are doing. They spend a lot of their time wishing to be doing something, anything else. It might not be as strong (because of the life time comitment) but they want.. want.. want.. what ever they get they want more. Consume, consume… consume.

        I was in an accident that almost claimed my life when my daughter was a few weeks old. My wife said while I heal she would pick up the bacon. I felt like a child in a candy store… I was so dang happy being the at home dad. I looooooooved every second with the kids. Changing diapers was just another way to interact with the kids and give them some joy and comfort and just seeing their happiness made me happy. Instead of seeing it as having to be with the kids time, and then seperate time for myself.. I looked at it as my time with the kids was my time. My kids are all older and taking care of themselves most of the time. I wrote in my journal about being a dad and those times. They read as a true joy.

        Were there hard times? Sure when the kids were sick, or I was. It was those little bumps in the road that made the 99% of the rest of the time a great joy. Holding my son and seeing him as he didn’t really want to go to sleep.. but the look he gave me as he was going down that told me he was sure that dad would make sure he was safe and the sun would come up tomorrow. There is nothing better, and I have had a lot of fun in my life. Lots of parties, sex, drugs high octane excitement. Nothing has made me as happy as raising my kids. Singly because I actually lived it instead of lived through it.

        I might be a little different than most, I am a guy who wanted to be a father since I was about 15 or 16. I used to have dreams of being a father. My dad left us and I wanted to take everything I wasn’t able to share with my own father and give it to someone I loved… my own children. My wife and I have been together for almost 16 years now, married 13 in a couple of days. She is the most beautiful woman inside and out and our kids still give us issues.. homework or the dreaded boyfriends that are about to start knocking on my developed daughter’s door. Still, living it… enoying it has been the best adventure I have ever had.. in a very, very long list of doing a lot of fun things.

        No, kids don’t “fix” marriages… neither does bringing another “partner” into the relationship.. another mistak a lot of people make. If done right, and with the right mindset they can be the greatest of adventures.

        • Unmutual says:

          “Were there hard times?”

          Another point that the article touches on is something that I think you illustrate pretty well. Parenting is hard for some people, and easy for others. Why?

          While reading your post I had some flashbacks of my own experiences with my daughters, and I will tell you the hardest times, or the times when frustration had set in the most, is when I was trying to get the kids to behave in some way I had predetermined, and they refuse.

          Examples:

          You are trying to get your kid to eat healthy, and they don’t want to.

          You want your kid to be quiet, they want to be loud. Doesnt matter if you are in a restaurant or a library . . .

          You want your kid to go to bed, but they want to stay up and breastfeed / fuss / play with you.

          In each case, it is the expectation of something from your child, that makes their behavior so irritating. But whose fault is that, really?

  43. siradambeck says:

    That was a complex, wonderful article. It takes some time to get through and is definitely something to contemplate. Very thoughtful and not anti-child, more an exploration of parent psychology and happiness.

    I know a lot of the above comments are knee-jerk defenses kicking in. Cool your jets parents. One of the most salient points of the article is that, parenting/having kids isn’t the problem, it’s the lack of system support American parents receive.

    Great read. A+

  44. Unmutual says:

    This was a great read. . . excellent post all around. Enjoying the comments section too . . .

    First, to whoever said that people who choose not to have children are “selfish”, I dunno, considering the population problem the world is on the precipice of, you could legitimately make the opposite case. And yes I have 2 children of my own.

    I don’t think childless couples are selfish at all (although they can often get a bit sanctimonious). Childless members of society each fulfill important roles that are either ancillary to childcare or just contribute to our overall success as a species. Not everybody has to be directly involved in reproduction these days, certainly a shortage of children is nowhere near the biggest threat to the human race.

    In the article they talked a bit about older couples having children and this just reinforced a long held opinion of mine: that it is stupid to wait to have children until you are financially “where you want to be” or whatever. I’m 29 and have 2 young children, but most of my colleagues in my age group are “waiting” even though they have stable jobs and are either married or engaged or engaged to be engaged or whatever the f@ck. I always say the same thing “you’re NEVER ready, just get it out of the way!”

    “The second half of a man’s life is made up of nothing but the habits he has acquired during the first half.” Fyodor Dostoevsky

    One thing about older parents, is that the older we get, the less flexible we become. We turn into curmudgeons. We like to think we are “40 years young!” but a 40 year old is a 40 year old and they are as far removed from a 25 year old as a 25 year old is from a 10 year old. And for people who have very, very established notions of what constitutes “matters of consequence”, the absolute chaos and insanity that comes along with early childhood is going to go right up the ass sideways. Some situations I see pretty often: the parents self medicate and the children run amok (as described in the article, with the mother “frantically searching for alcohol” minutes after getting home from work”); the parents’ authoritarian style successfully tames the children; the parents medicate the children; the parents’ relationship completely deteriorates; or some combination of those.

    By the way, whoever made the “darwinian” comment is right, being a parent is in many ways your one true job. Your job-job just facilitates this other duty by giving you income. And in that respect it is not hard to understand why parents are often unhappy and stressed. How do you normally feel at your job? Parenting-time is not the same as liesure time, and even liesure time and vacations, when you have children, are much different than they were before the days of diapers and temper tantrums and restaurants with “kid’s menus”. You work 16 hour shifts and are on call the other 8 hours.

    Your reward, hopefully, is that some day a fully functioning human being will leave the nest and do you proud and you will be able to annoy the cashier at Rite-Aid with tales of their exploits and success. There are few feelings in the world more fulfilling then pride in your children . . . the only others that can compare would be the love and affection you receive from them and the joy at seeing them happy.

  45. bboyneko says:

    I love when hopeful parents try and try to have kids, and wallow in pathos and despair due to their inability to pop out a f*** trophy.

    Listen, if you REALLY just wanted to have a child for unselfish reasons, you’d adopt. The fact that you are sad because you can not have a BIOLOGICAL child shows your selfish reasons for wanting one. You want it to be just like you. A mini-you, a futile attempt to be immortal.

    And then these same hopeful parents go to fertility clinics and pop out a litter of kids, 8 at a time sometimes as we have seen in the news. Where are the anti-abortion opponents when it comes to these types of people? They destroy more embryos than anyone else in their selfish quest to have a biological child.

    • Anonymous says:

      How childish. Do you have any idea how many embryos are “destroyed” routinely when people go the natural route? Miscarriages happen all the time and sometimes without women even noticing. Adoption is much more difficult than you might think. And of course there is an element of selfishness in reproduction. Evolution is all about preferring your own genes and that of your mate’s over others. Walk a mile in someone elses shoes for once.

    • Anonymous says:

      they see you trollin’…they hatin

    • Brainspore says:

      I love when hopeful parents try and try to have kids, and wallow in pathos and despair due to their inability to pop out a f*** trophy.

      Yep, nothing says “I’m not a selfish asshole” like gleefully celebrating the misery of your fellow man and referring to the next generation of human beings as “fuck trophies.”

      Listen, if you REALLY just wanted to have a child for unselfish reasons, you’d adopt. The fact that you are sad because you can not have a BIOLOGICAL child shows your selfish reasons for wanting one.

      I’m very pro-adoption, but anyone who says “just adopt” as if it’s the easiest thing in the world clearly has no idea what the process is like. First you get on a waiting list that can last for years, then IF you’re approved you spend months or years raising a child that can be taken away on a whim if a state employee or biological family member changes their mind. Needless to say, this adds a lot of stress to the bonding process for both parent and child.

      • bboyneko says:

        anyone who says “just adopt” as if it’s the easiest thing in the world clearly has no idea what the process is like. First you get on a waiting list that can last for years

        Except if it’s for a black child.

        • Brainspore says:

          Except if it’s for a black child.

          My extended family was just fortunate enough to welcome a new member through adoption, a black child (most of us are white). The process took just as much time and paperwork as it did for the previous (white) child to get adopted by my family.

          In either case a fickle blood relative could have stepped in at any time and torn the whole process apart, especially since many relatives of adoptees are uncomfortable with people of another race raising their child. Luckily for all involved that didn’t happen.

          Adoption is noble, rewarding, good for society, etc. But there are many valid reasons why people choose to have their own children instead.

  46. Anonymous says:

    Love having a child (5 months) but I’m also willing to admit that the reason i didn’t have one before i was 40 was because i was simply selfish.

    I’d also like to stand up for the excluded middle and say that yes, it’s hard, there’s little time for sleep or twittering, blogging, gaming, etc., but you know what? I now feel like my life is, in some small way, a bit more worthwhile.

  47. Kai Jones says:

    There’s more to life than happiness, and there’s a huge difference between happiness and pleasure. I am happy that I continue to pursue my life goal of making the world better (in any small way, including raising children who will be contributing members of society), even though not every moment of mothering my children was pleasurable.

    Having grandchildren makes raising my own kids worthwhile. My grandkids are all pleasure, no work.

    • Brainspore says:

      Second that “there’s more to life than happiness” comment. They rarely build monuments to honor people who spent their whole lives having a grand ol’ time.

  48. MissMarnie says:

    Do you know what are bad reasons to have children?
    * You think they will take care of you when you are old. Kids are not insurance and they are under no obligation to care for you in your old age, if you both make it that far.
    * You think they will improve your marriage. Kids won’t fix what’s broken in your life. Your spouse can very well love your kids without loving you.
    * You think you need to improve the human gene pool. Even if you are exceptional you can have average or below average children. Even if you are a great parent, you can have a horrible child. 50% of the population is below average.
    * Your family/society/commenters on Boing Boing/etc expect you to. You will raise the children, they are your responsibility. Boing Boing commenter isn’t going to chip in for your kids’ college education and babysit when you need to go to work.
    * Any reason other than “I really want to be a parent and feel entirely ready for the experience.”

    I don’t have children, I’m too old to be a “hipster” by quite a bit, my husband is 9 years older than my too old to be a hipster. I have known I didn’t want kids since I was a kid. Someone telling me that makes me pretentious just makes me laugh. I’m happy to be the crazy aunt, I am so thrilled for my friends who are happily raising their own kids, but my choice to not have kids was carefully thought out and calling it pretentious is just silly.

    • Killgore9998 says:

      Again, no one is calling your decision to not have kids ‘pretentious’. It is only pretentious if you based your decision on someone telling you that you shouldn’t want to in the name of health or some culture-nouveau trend, such as what the article is doing.

      • MissMarnie says:

        It is only pretentious if you based your decision on someone telling you that you shouldn’t want to in the name of health or some culture-nouveau trend, such as what the article is doing.

        A study is just a study (or in this case, several studies). I can’t tell you how often I’ve been told that I just don’t know what I’m missing and I simply must have children because my life is empty without them.

        Far better for someone to go into parenthood prepared for possible bad outcomes, aware of the challenges and sure of their decision, than simply doing it because everyone says it will be so great. Considering facts when making choices is not pretentious.

        Your argument is akin to people who accuse atheists of being intolerant for simply expressing why they don’t personally believe in any gods. It’s simply a discussion of information not an attack. If these studies hold up to scrutiny, it’s perfectly legitimate to consider them in your life choices.

        But even if you disagree, I’d think you wouldn’t care a lick if someone you thought was “pretentious” opted not to have kids. Seems like it should, theoretically, cut down on the pretentious folks in the world.

    • Unmutual says:

      Any reason other than “I really want to be a parent and feel entirely ready for the experience.”

      What about “I’m pregnant!” for a reason?

      Plenty of people have had kids throughout history by complete accident and scared utterly sh*tless and the kids have turned out fine.

      Our society views parenthood as this monumental undertaking that only the purest of heart and soul standing on financial bedrock should attempt, and it’s nonsense. Nobody is perfect, and kids don’t need a lot of money, they need love.

      And since you never had kids yourself, I will let you in on a little secret. Nobody is ever “ready” to have kids. Whatever expectations you might have, just get rid of them, because they are nonsense. In fact the article said as much; the longer people wait to have kids, the more adversely their “marital happiness” seemed to be affected.

      • MissMarnie says:

        What about “I’m pregnant!” for a reason?

        In this day and age you still have a choice when faced with that possibility. And I would say that there are good reasons for someone who cannot or does not want children (or, as with incest and rape, that particular pregnancy), to terminate a pregnancy if it happens. But this conversation isn’t really about accidental pregnancy. This is a strawman argument. The point is that no one should feel pressured into having children for flawed reasons.

        Our society views parenthood as this monumental undertaking that only the purest of heart and soul standing on financial bedrock should attempt, and it’s nonsense.

        I couldn’t care less about the financial costs or work involved in parenthood, I don’t want to be a parent for the same reason why you might not be turned on by people licking your elbow. I see nothing wrong with people having children (nor do I see anything wrong with people being turned on by having their elbow licked), but it’s not something I want. However if people are going to argue that I am selfish or pretentious or damning the human gene pool or doomed to languish in a nursing home because I feel no inclination to reproduce I will argue that none of those reasons, true or not, is a good reason to have a child. For people who are making choices about having a child or not (versus those who find themselves pregnant unexpectedly or unable to get pregnant) the choice should be about whether you feel willing and able and excited about the prospect.

        Nobody is perfect, and kids don’t need a lot of money, they need love.

        It may be possible to raise a child on love alone but it sure helps to have a well paying job with full medical and a reliable roof over one’s head. And most people are going to need some sort of resource, whether it be money for a sitter or friends and family to watch your child when you are at that job. In the US, at least, tight knit extended families and affordable health care and child care are not readily available.

  49. Emlyn O'Regan says:

    This guy does a great job demolishing the nymag article

    http://thelastpsychiatrist.com/2010/07/why_parents_hate_parenting.html

  50. Treespeed says:

    Everybody’s got to make the choices that make THEM happy, and I’ve seen both sides of it. We’re just sticking with the one and with some parents you’d think we took a sip of the kool-aid and spit it back in their face. Apparently our kid will grow up selfish, spoiled, and socially inept without siblings.
    I agree parents going on about the parenting cult is tiresome, I would just ask the voluntarily childfree to spare me the declarations of their pet being just like a child.
    Despite your fawning and costuming a dog or cat is not a child.

    • Anonymous says:

      How should I respond to you?

      I want a child, can’t have one, project my parental instincts onto my cats, am poor as a church mouse, have a 150-IQ, and mourn my cats’ deaths rather heavily.

      I’d love to adopt, but don’t qualify due to income.

      If I lacked morality, I’d make drugs (acid, ecstacy) until I had enough to invest (this used to be called money-laundering, but is now SOP) and then live off that.

      After all, not only do crack-whores never give birth, but wealthy and successful women are never barren.

  51. Anonymous says:

    didn’t we just have that article on WEIRD countries and what not?

    does this honestly apply to every place and every one?

    it just seems really flawed to accept these studies as the basis for deciding the worlds reproductive decisions.

    and as some parents have noted, you don’t have kids to be happy, you have them to be content and achieve something. like making things. im not happy when i burn myself soldering stuff, or cut myself but when i see my finished product im hella proud.

    heee captcha says brouhaha page

  52. Anonymous says:

    Yeah, I wonder how much happier I’d be if I had every other week off too…
    I regret having kids (even though mine are actually pretty well behaved), it makes me miserable. God help anyone who dares to say it though (they must be bad parents!). Despite the chance that it probably makes me miserable _because_ I am working so hard to raise them properly and be a good parent.

  53. luisella says:

    A guy once said “I don’t want to have kids, I prefer freedom. But I have to admit that the happiness of living with your family surpasses that of coming in a model’s face.”

  54. hubbledeej says:

    I’m all for people having kids — IF are up to the challenge as mature adults & enjoy the experience! I don’t have any, mainly because I tend to agree with JohnnyOC. Aren’t there enough damn people on this planet?

    Guess what, I can also differentiate between happiness and meaningful experiences; I’d just like if it could be acknowledged that childless people actually can have meaningful, enriching experiences too. It’s often expressed as a trade-off.

  55. Razzabeth says:

    Listen dudes, I never said selfish, I said pretentious, really how many times do I have to repeat that? Although the two words are related in the thesaurus, they have two different meanings in the dictionary, look it up plskthx.

    Also, I think I should be allowed to make a generalization without being personally attacked, as this article makes several HUGE generalized and prejudiced remarks, mainly that children are a bane to marriages and society, which is just totally nonsensical to me.

    • Anonymous says:

      So you think I’m pretentious for choosing not to have children? Despite not knowing my reasons? Is it not better that someone like myself who has autoimmune diseases that, yes, are hereditary, does not pollute the gene poll by creating more people with autoimmune diseases? I think it would be more pretentious to have children presuming that they would be ok, they wouldn’t eventually develop what I have (mine kicked in age 14), and when it finally did… well, then it would just be a drain on the healthcare system.

      Add on top of that, some days I barely have the energy to look after myself, you think I have the energy to look after a kid? Crikey. I will not work myself into an early grave just to satisfy someone who thinks that reproductive organs should be used, regardless of the consequences.

  56. Unmutual says:

    @davidasposted: I think it’s morally reprehensible to birth kids while parent-less children await adoption. Would you argue otherwise?

    Yes I would. There are half a million kids in the foster care system with nobody clamoring to adopt them. Because people want to adopt babies, clean slates, not older children from sketchy backgrounds who have “problems”. There is no comparison between the biological imperative of wanting your own offspring, to socially constructed concepts of “responsibility”, in terms of its ability to motivate people into making significant decisions.

    @Antinous: Look at some of the terrible reason that people have children. Pleasing a spouse, pleasing other relatives, holding a marriage together, creating a replicant, failed contraception.

    I think the notion that people have “reasons” for having children is a little absurd. “Why”, excactly, does a lion have babies? Why should they want more mouths to feed? “Why” should an antelope want to bring a child into the world, knowing that they will probably be eaten by a lion some day? All animals procreate, I think humans apply reasons “why” post-hoc. In fact I’d argue that most of our rational thinking takes place post-hoc, at least on a day to day basis. In the end, we have children, because we are supposed to. I know many people plan their pregnancies, but they did not “plan” the desire to have children.

    As for people who “choose to be childless”, that’s one way of looking at it, that their lives are the result of their expression of free will. Another might be that there is some genetic component, and that societal stimulus resulting from overpopulation is causing the expression of genetics that discourage more procreation, or even cause homosexuality (not advocating this theory, just sayin’) and otherwise slow down population growth, and then we spend the rest of our adult lives rationalizing “why” this is, but reality is that we are all just part of an ecosystem trying to self-regulate.

    Me personally, I don’t judge. It takes all sorts to make a world.

    @Razzabeth: I’m really getting tired of the modern hipster mentality towards not having kids. I think it doesn’t make any sense, it is pretentious, and it will be very harmful to our society in the long run.

    Well the only thing that irritates me is the lack of compassion many childless couples have towards families with small children. Small children are incredibly annoying at times, so I can understand, but they are also an essential component of a functioning society, so sorry if my cranky kid spoiled your little date at the table next to me, but please get over it, because you won’t be complaining some day when their salary is paying your social security check, JERKS! ;)

    Also, on a brief tangent, one thing that I want to put out there is that human beings are social animals. Our cognitive development is based primarily (not exclusively) on interactions with other members of our species. Separate a child from the rest of the species, put them in the forest, and come back in 20 years . . . they won’t know how to read or write and their tool use will probably be limited to “sharp rock CHOP round rock SMASH”.

    We go through many milestones in life . . . some very important ones are ceremonial (bar mitzvah, confirmation, marriage, whatever) and some others are not so formal, but equally important. Such as our first sexual relationship. Each of these landmarks generally means passage into another stage of life, and we come out the other end a little bit different than we were before.

    This aspect of cognitive development is something that I worry is seriously lacking in many developed countries. It used to be, you had your kids in your 20s, soon after leaving the nest yourself, and while in the process of making your own way in the world. Your cognitive development still has a physical component to it . . . your pre-frontal cortext continues to develop until your mid 20s. In my opinion that means there is some kind of “critical period” that your 20s represents. I think it is having children of your own.

    During your childhood you learn to respect elders, interact with peers, and so on. During adolescence and early adulthood, you learn to have intimate relationships. Not just sexual ones but also more significant platonic ones. And I suspect that the ideal time to have children, the time you will benefit the most cognitively from the experience, as well as be most suited for the job, is right on the cusp of early adulthood and adulthood.

    Children teach us a lot of things, they teach us to be flexible, to tolerate a certain amount of chaos, to curb our expectations and let things develop organically, but most importantly, they teach us to put another person before ourselves, and to appreciate the value of a solid family unit.

    Go too far beyond that period and I fear that these lessons may not be adequately processed. Are the results of this manifesting as high divorce rates? Emotional unsatisfaction and increased use of psychiatric drugs? Am I a secret right-wing shill? Who knows. . .

    • dragonfly10305 says:

      “…societal stimulus resulting from overpopulation is causing the expression of genetics that discourage more procreation, or even cause homosexuality (not advocating this theory, just sayin’) and otherwise slow down population growth…”

      This is a theory I’ve had for a while. When rats are kept in too small a cage, they will eat their young, rather than raise them.
      It seems very likely that people raised in a high-density environment would not develop the urge to become parents, or would be born gay.

      However, I’m not sure it holds up – ’cause some of the most populous areas on the planet (Mumbai & Mexico City, say), are actually not chock-full of happily child-free couples and great gay communities (AFAIK).

      Either way, I know I’ve never had the urge to have children. I don’t see how it is rewarding or desirable. There are already more than enough people having children, so people who take issue with me for that are a bit baffling. If I die alone, so be it – sounds more peaceful than having a bunch of people bothering me in my extremity!

      “Well the only thing that irritates me is the lack of compassion many childless couples have towards families with small children. Small children are incredibly annoying at times, so I can understand, but they are also an essential component of a functioning society, so sorry if my cranky kid spoiled your little date at the table next to me, but please get over it, because you won’t be complaining some day when their salary is paying your social security check, JERKS! ;)”

      Sorry, but this is just obnoxious as hell. Your child does not have the right to ruin everyone else’s time – and for that matter, shouldn’t be AT a restaurant until they are old enough to behave as is considered appropriate in a restaurant.
      It’s all about age-appropriateness – would I complain about a loud child at the circus? No. At the opera? Yes! At a romantic restaurant? Definitely yes!
      Stuff like this is why many childfree individuals perceive parents as selfish, inconsiderate jerks. I know most aren’t. Most parents will instantly get up and take a crying child outside – and thanks to them! :-)

      One more thing – I absolutely do know parents who have admitted to me, privately, that they were sorry that they chose to have children. These people were not bad or unloving parents. And it’s not a regret they would voice publicly, or let their kids know about. But it does happen.

    • nutbastard says:

      “Yes I would. There are half a million kids in the foster care system with nobody clamoring to adopt them. Because people want to adopt babies, clean slates, not older children from sketchy backgrounds who have “problems”.”

      he said “morally reprehensible”. are you arguing that an adult putting their own *wants* before the *needs* of a child is morally sound?

      • Unmutual says:

        he said “morally reprehensible”. are you arguing that an adult putting their own *wants* before the *needs* of a child is morally sound?

        When biological desires butt heads against “morality”, which do you suppose generally wins?

        It’s also worth noting that for many people, adoption is considerably more difficult than conceiving a child the old fashioned way.

        But for those who undergo rigorous fertility treatments in an effort to conceive their own children rather than adopt one that is already alive and wanting a family, I don’t think that is morally justifiable, no. But what difference does it make? It is a multi-billion dollar industry.

        • Brainspore says:

          It’s also worth noting that for many people, adoption is considerably more difficult than conceiving a child the old fashioned way.

          Or often the new-fashioned IVF way that you find “morally unjustifiable.”

          Also, if you have your own kid you basically have to be a negligent monster to have them taken away. In adoption, all it takes is for a blood relative to change their mind at the last minute.

          • Unmutual says:

            Or often the new-fashioned IVF way that you find “morally unjustifiable.”

            Just because I don’t think something is justifiable does not mean I would not do it myself if I were in the same situation.

            I am not one of those people who believes everything I do is “right” and will do cartwheels trying to rationalize things that I know I shouldn’t do. I do morally unjustifiable things all the time.

            I eat too much pizza. There are starving kids in Haiti!

            I drive faster than the speed limit at times.

            I set my air conditioner pretty low, even though I know it uses a lot of electricity. I don’t like to sweat.

            And so on. You don’t need to justify everything you do, it’s part of living in a free society.

          • Brainspore says:

            Alright, we’re cool- that choice of words just sounded a little harsh the first time around.

      • CH says:

        I see nothing wrong in people wanting biological children (I’m an adoptive parent). Adoption or fostering isn’t for everybody. As Caroline said earlier, it is a path and you need to want to walk it. If for nothing else, then for the sake of the child that you are going to adopt or foster. They need good parents that want *them*.

        Most of the people accusing people of having biological children or for adopting internationally, as there are “millions of children here who need a home”, don’t seem to be adopting or fostering themselves. Apparently it’s something that everybody else than themselves is supposed to do. It’s just another version of “Won’t somebody think of the childrun?!?!!!1″.

  57. alllie says:

    I read a contradictory study a couple of decades ago, pre-internet. They found that women were happier before they had kids but men were happier after they had kids. I found the study surprising because I thought it was women who wanted kids, not so much men. Maybe this was a time when women did almost all the work that came with kids and men got to play with them and feel useful.

    As for Japan being in decline because of the decline in its population growth, it does well to remember that not long ago Japan had one of the highest population densities in the world. What economists mourn about this change is the reduction in the numbers of cheap workers but Japanese should celebrate their falling population. It may save their country from collapse.

  58. Cheqyr says:

    Argh. “…pretend to be concerned ABOUT childless couples…”.

  59. jimbuck says:

    Having kids is huge – bigger than anyone can ever convey. I’m happy for a couple that opts to not have kids and his happy about that … as happy as I am for a couple who is happy with children. It’s all good.

    The one thing I wish I did differently is had my kids closer together. They are 9, 5, and 2. Finding stuff to do with all three is a major challenge at times. I find myself homebound just b/c I don’t want to deal with the major headache of doing stuff… especially when it’s super hot or super cold out. I enjoy getting time in with the older two, who can do “fun stuff” and are fun when they aren’t torturing each other in some fashion. Basically, I’m in year 9 of having a kid under 4 in the house… and I’m done with this early stage.

    Now, if you excuse me I have to go. You see, the 2 yr old is up in the crib crying for mommy who isn’t here. She said before “I wish I screamed mommy and mommy came”. Not gonna happen. Hopefully by 10pm she’ll pass out so I can get some work done.

  60. Unmutual says:

    @Brainspore: Second that “there’s more to life than happiness” comment. They rarely build monuments to honor people who spent their whole lives having a grand ol’ time.

    Definitely true. People do not understand that what brings them joy at this stage of life will not always bring them joy.

    Do you still play with Barbie dolls or Transformers? Of course not (at least I hope not)

    Look up a little concept called “generativity vs. stagnation”.

    You might be happy now, but a lifetime of self-actualization without contribution to anything meaningful (like a clan full of a blood relatives who will mourn your passing) may lead to some very profound regret during your twilight years. And with luck and medical science, those may turn out to be decades long . . . not trying to act all pretentious here, but just be aware of what you may be walking into.

  61. Anonymous says:

    but being a grandparent is worth it;-)

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