Author Topic: on the fence re: kids  (Read 26411 times)

erae

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 90
on the fence re: kids
« on: December 28, 2016, 08:33:41 AM »
End-of-year reflections are fertile ground for an existential crisis. Here are the headlines:
  • Money: Spouse and I pull in almost 300k annually - he's earning roughly 2/3 of that and I'm earning the other 1/3. We live off of 70k, gift around 20k a year, and invest 100k. While our income will dip in the next few years as one of us heads back to school, our combined income should stay above six-figures for the foreseeable future. I start with financials b/c they're the most comfortable part of this conversation. We haven't been earning this money for long, but are closing in on 300k net worth
  • Biology + Health: I'm a 33 year old female. Spouse is 34. We're approaching shit-or-get-off-the-pot territory for procreation. I've also put on 40 pounds in the last few years with a demanding desk job and have only recently begun to seriously address the weight through a better diet and exercise. Asked my Ob/Gyn in my last appointment if I'd be better off waiting a year to conceive to get my weight down or starting now and increasing our likelihood of getting that baby out by 35. She recommended youth over a healthy BMI
  • Family dynamics: Been married almost 3 years. Marriage is healthy overall, though there is an ongoing tension around some of the gender dynamics. We've got our current situation sorted out, but a baby would put pressure on a big nerve of mine.  I work from home and handle the vast majority of household management. He works for a bunch of consecutive days then has 6+ days off at a time. None of that downtime was spent on household stuff, so I've begun sending him weekly emails with to do lists for his days off. Anything that is on the list gets done.  He's an incredibly attentive partner emotionally and would rather spend time together than clean a bathtub that hasn't been cleaned in four months. We rent, have no pets and no kids, so it's do-able, though I have sacrificed some things I liked (shared dinners) because I got resentful about the work required on the back end. He eats frozen dinners now and I cook for myself as I did when I was single. He doesn't mind. We went to a therapist a few months ago to talk about this - specifically my concerns about adding more responsibilities to the household through having a child -  and the therapist just laughed when he figured out our ballpark income and told us to get a cleaning service + a nanny. We mumbled something about our savings rate and wanting to retire early and never went back. I know my husband would handle all the direct care (late night feedings, diapers) of the baby, but I'd be on my own handling the increased logistical load of the house with a child. Both of our mothers were stay at home parents and devoted their working years to running a well-oiled and loving household. I am not a good candidate for SAH parenthood and my husband is our primary earner.
  • Desire for kids: When we got married, we didn't think we were going to have kids. I worked with kids in my 20's and that seems to have met my caregiver needs (though I hear a lot of "it's different when they're YOUR kids"). He's an immigrant to the US and his desire for kids seems to stem largely from a desire to give a child access to the opportunities he didn't have growing up middle class in an under-developed country. He's getting the fever and I wax romantic occasionally. He's told me that he knew going into this marriage that neither one of us wanted kids and it's not on me to accommodate his changed mind. As we've talked (and talked and talked) about parenting, I've come to the conclusion that I'd be interested in fatherhood but not motherhood. I can see a path to joint "fatherhood" if we allocate my salary to outsourcing "motherhood" through nannies, cleaning services, grocery delivery, etc (maybe that therapist was on to something...). Husband balks at spending so much money, but I think I could get him on board with a more detailed budget. He's assured me that he'll be fine if we don't have kids, but this pregnancy purgatory of being off the pill but not actively trying to conceive is a drag
  • Living situation: We're in the middle of a 3 year contract in a part of the country where we have no family and don't have much in common with the people around us. We've got almost 2 years to go before we can move, and are both showing some signs of depression, so we're low on optimism and energy. On my best days, I feel excited to grow our family. Most days, I just want to put my head down and drive our savings rate as high as possible with this fat contract we've got. I suspect a kid would both stress us further when we're already down and give us a little much-needed sunshine and perspective.
It doesn't show up on this list, but I swear we'd be kick-ass parents. I've read every think piece out there about parenthood and happiness and childfree couples, and I'm ready for some face punches and reality checks from the incredible folks on this forum. Appreciate your time and perspectives.

Fireball

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 235
Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2016, 08:50:35 AM »
Hi erae,

That's an awesome summary up there. I don't want to get too long winded on the topic of kids(because I can), but I want to give you my experience with having kids in a couple short sentences.

We had kids when I was 28 years old and I thought I had a pretty good grasp on what happiness was and what it meant. I was wrong. I never experienced the absolute joy that my kids give every single day.  I miss my free time, multiple vacations a year, and my sanity but I got so much more in return. And you will too I bet.

Family dynamics - This is where we struggled. Old school gender roles clash with today's reality, especially in the South. We had to feel our way on whose responsibility it was to do what and it stung a bit. Much easier to recognize this beforehand and develop a plan. Soinds like you already recognize this(kudos).
« Last Edit: December 28, 2016, 09:03:11 AM by Fireball »

KCM5

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 871
Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2016, 09:01:49 AM »
This isn't about kids, but about your partner's attention to the household: you say you make a list and everything on the list gets done. Have you divided up regular household chores in this manner? Or is it that your partner doesn't want to do household chores when he's worked that day? Say, you cook dinner, he cleans up. Or you take care of dinner/cleanup on Mon, Wed, Fri, he does Tues, Thurs.

If  you really want a kid, the nanny/house cleaner might be a reasonable option.

I once thought I didn't want kids. I changed my mind and have a kid that is awesome. It was the right choice. But that doesn't mean it's the right choice for you.

Also, if you do decide to have a kid, make sure you're caring for yourself and depression before/during/after pregnancy. It's a vulnerable time.

mskyle

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 693
Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2016, 09:27:48 AM »
I have never known an opposite-sex couple where the gender dynamics improved when they had kids. Kids seem to exacerbate that kind of stuff even in egalitarian, feminist relationships and it's one of the reasons I've decided not to have kids (I'm a straight woman).

My feelings about having kids have waxed and waned over the years - when I was 30 I wanted kids (but had no partner and wasn't in a career position where I could make it work on my own). Now I'm 38 (with a partner who would be a great dad) and I am firmly on the "no thanks!" side of the fence. I love my nieces and nephews (biological and friend-wise) but I don't want kids for myself. I think if I had had kids five or ten years ago I'd be happy about it and a good parent. But I'm good at lots of things, that doesn't mean I need to commit the rest of my life to doing them.

MrsDinero

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 935
Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2016, 09:58:59 AM »
I'm going to go with "don't have kids".

There is nothing romantic about children.  They are taxing, demanding, loud, messy, and yours.  I have 3 kids with 2 under the age of 2.  While they are all of these things, I delight in the messiness of our life.  If you are already feeling depressed about your situation, adding a baby that will deprive you of your sleep will not help.

It sounds like you have no desire to be a mom because you phrased it "outsourcing motherhood".  You didn't phrase it, having a caregiver or daycare, you phrased it "outsourcing motherhood". 

I find this interesting (and offensive).  Not because you want to continue to work and have a nanny.  I have continued to work and I have live-out nanny, but because you think motherhood is something that CAN be outsourced.  It is not.  Motherhood is there for all its beauty and ugliness.  It is not just about picking the right person who is going to keep your kid from sticking its finger in a light socket while you are working, it is the the good (laughing and playing), the bad (keeping  your cool through tantrums) and the ugly (wearing vomit smeared clothes at 3am while cleaning up your kid, not going back to sleep because you kid wants you to hold them all night long, and still making your 9am conference calls).  It is all of these thing wrapped up in a not so neat little ball. 

Theres is nothing wrong with not wanting kids.  I know people who have chosen to not have kids for many reasons.  Most of these people love kids, they have simply decided that having kids is not for them.  I applaud that decision.

I think it is better to not have kids than to have them and regret it later.  I have a friend right now whose husband regrets having their second child because he realized (too late) he doesn't have the patience the second needs but the first child didn't.  She feels constant dismay and anger because it is clear the husband prefers interacting with the older child and leaves all the care the younger child to my friend.  While she doesn't regret having both children she admits their marriage would have been better if they only had one or even none. She thought it would get better with time, but the younger is now 7 and the older is 10 and has begun to notice the difference.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2016, 10:07:24 AM by MrsDinero »

historienne

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 360
Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2016, 10:18:51 AM »
I have never known an opposite-sex couple where the gender dynamics improved when they had kids. Kids seem to exacerbate that kind of stuff even in egalitarian, feminist relationships and it's one of the reasons I've decided not to have kids (I'm a straight woman).


I agree with this.  My husband and I have worked our way to an egalitarian division of labor, but we definitely had to swim upstream to get there.  To start off, there is no way to split the burden of pregnancy and childbirth.  Or breastfeeding, if that's important to you.  Especially if your partner earns more, it is VERY easy to get into the habit of prioritizing his career over yours, and those decisions then snowball. 

Your therapist is indeed onto something, by which I mean that if you have kids I think you absolutely should throw as much money at the problem as necessary.  Have the nanny, the housekeeper, the meal service.  Be aware, though, that you can only throw money at maybe 60% of the problem before you start to get into uncomfortable territory (full time plus daycare is fine, even great; literally never seeing your kids on weekdays is actually not ok for them).  Even then, the nanny will get sick and one of you will need to either stay home or find a last minute replacement.  The nanny isn't going to book the pediatrician appointments, or tour schools when the time comes. 

My husband and I don't have your incomes, but we have a tremendous amount of help from my family. My parents do full time childcare for our infant (we also have a preschooler who is in full time care), and they also do most of our laundry and meal preparation.  Parenting is still exhausting.  You say your husband would do all of the night stuff...but what if your kid literally wakes up every hour all night long, so he really needs you to do some of them in order to stay sane?  Not a hypothetical question, that was my night last night, and the only reason I'm awake at all today is that my husband and I each spent half of the night sleeping in the guest room while the other one of us dealt with the wakeups. 

I love my kids intensely and am happy to deal with the work because they bring such joy to my life...but it is a lot of work, even if you have a lot of help.

marielle

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 861
  • Age: 26
  • Location: South Carolina
Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2016, 10:20:12 AM »
This is probably a stupid question as I'm sure you've considered all options...but have you /seriously/ considered adopting? Your husband wants to give a child opportunities, and with your income and lifestyle you could truly change the life of a child who's been in foster care for years. Neither of you seem interested in actually being a parent of a baby/toddler, so is adopting an older child the best route to go? I don't really see the point of outsourcing parenting, what's the point of even having a kid if you don't bond with them fully?

I have no kids so take this comment with a grain of salt.

little_brown_dog

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 915
Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #7 on: December 28, 2016, 10:41:54 AM »
While I love being a parent and usually advocate for people to have kids if they want them, you have a few major red flags here that suggest to me that parenthood really may not be for you.

1. It sounds like you dont really want kids (or full responsibility for them). Yes you can use money to get out of things like daily child care or housekeeping but you cant buy your way out of parenthood. There is a big difference between "I want to be a parent and will use daycare and housekeeper to help me maintain my career and be the best parent I can be" and "I dont think I really want the responsibility of being a parent but eh I guess if it gets too stressful I can just outsource as much of parenting as possible to deal with it." Make sure you are number 1 not number 2 because even if you do outsource alot of childcare and domestic responsibilities parenting is still a 24/7 job for decades and if you dont actually want kids, no amount of money will fix that. Worse parenting is a huge stress on even the best relationships and if you resent it then it will make any marital problems a million times worse.

2. Your health. You are not in ideal shape to be pregnant which means you could be at increased risk of having physical andmental issues like gestational diabetes and postnatal depression. Again these risks would be worth it if you really want kids, but if you are just meh about it, they can make pregnancy and new parenting far harder and more stressful which will further impact your enjoyment of parenthood.

At the end of the day you should have kids because you want to be a parent...including all the tough stuff about parenting. If you are going into parenting already trying to figure out how to minimize how much it is going to suck then thats not a good sign. If you are already trying to figure out how you can try to be a "part time" parent and avoid any major day to day responsibility that is even worse.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2016, 11:12:33 AM by little_brown_dog »

Lagom

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1258
  • Age: 36
  • Location: SF Bay Area
Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #8 on: December 28, 2016, 10:48:20 AM »
I have never known an opposite-sex couple where the gender dynamics improved when they had kids. Kids seem to exacerbate that kind of stuff even in egalitarian, feminist relationships and it's one of the reasons I've decided not to have kids (I'm a straight woman).

My feelings about having kids have waxed and waned over the years - when I was 30 I wanted kids (but had no partner and wasn't in a career position where I could make it work on my own). Now I'm 38 (with a partner who would be a great dad) and I am firmly on the "no thanks!" side of the fence. I love my nieces and nephews (biological and friend-wise) but I don't want kids for myself. I think if I had had kids five or ten years ago I'd be happy about it and a good parent. But I'm good at lots of things, that doesn't mean I need to commit the rest of my life to doing them.

Now you know one. I was OK but not great pre-kids, but I am confident my wife would agree that I have shouldered much more of the load post kid (still definitely less than 50%, alas, but I'm actively working on getting there!). In my opinion, this is one of those situations where shared values and mutual respect is critically important. I wanted to be an amazing father, and that absolutely meant taking responsibility for the increased household workload associated with a baby. To me, "being a man" is about taking care of the family and I see no reason why doing extra loads of laundry or watching the baby so my wife can have some time for herself doesn't fit into that obligation. I feel more motivated and more manly the more that I do to contribute around the house.

Traditionally, taking care of the family (from the husband's perspective) mostly refers to making money, but I firmly believe that's just a bullshit excuse for the husband to be lazy. Making money is not hard. I'll sing the praises of a stay at home spouse any day over a 70 hour/week executive who doesn't do anything when they get home. I'm not going to say your husbands or your friend's husbands are terrible spouses/fathers, but let it be known that in a strong marriage it is absolutely possible for the husband to become a better partner because of his children. 

All of that said, I think if you have realistic fears that your relationship might deteriorate due to a child that is definitely a warning sign that needs to be seriously considered. Having a child is by far one of the best things that ever happened to me, but I don't doubt it's not for everyone.

sol

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8492
  • Age: 42
  • Location: Pacific Northwest
Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #9 on: December 28, 2016, 10:51:35 AM »
If you're not sure you want kids, I would advise against it.  They suck.  Only in retrospect have I realized how totally I had to abandon my old life to have kids.  It's like I'm a totally different person, and not in a good way.  Everything that I once thought made my life interesting or worthwhile is gone, replaced with stress and obligation.

Having said that, I firmly believe everyone should have kids.  We are biologically programmed to like sex and parenthood, it's like they fulfill some deep seated instinctual urge that we can repress but not ignore.  Reproduction actualizes your evolutionarily instilled biological imperative, and will bring you joy like no other.  Also heartache and pain like no other.  Evolution is a harsh mistress.

Lots of people are happy without kids.  I'm not saying it can't be done, I'm saying that it takes a certain kind of person, one who can successfully transfer those desires elsewhere.  I think of it just like people who live happy and fulfilling lives without sex, or dessert, or emotional intimacy, or music.  Like parenthood, these things are in your DNA whether you like it or not.  They aren't absolutely necessary for happiness, but they are the easy way that your brain prefers.

I have three kids, two that I acquired and one that I made.  My wife was just months shy of 40 when she had the last one.  For people in your income bracket, the risks of advanced maternal age pregnancies are significantly reduced by good prenatal care and diagnostic screening.  Talk it through with your partner, but don't feel rushed to make a decision this month.  Plan on three to six months to conceive, nine to gestate, and at least one more to recover.  You'll be out of commission for a while, so you have to plan it around the rest of your life or be prepared to upset the rest of your life plans..

Also, if you do end up having a kid, be sure to check back in with us so we can laugh at/with you.  Commiseration seems to help ease the pain and suffering.

mozar

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3032
Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #10 on: December 28, 2016, 11:24:22 AM »
First I think you should freeze your eggs. That way you can kick the can a few years. I think you should also read up on emotional labor. It's fine to outsource cleaning, cooking, and daycare, but at the end of the day your child needs someone to kiss their boo-boos, and scare away the monsters under the bed. If your husband wants you to do all that, manage their lives, be the person who is pregnant and give birth and you are just meh about kids, that's not going to be good. Your husband just wants to help someone with opportunities, he can volunteer for an after school program. If he doesn't have time for that, why does he think he has time for a child?

Mariposa

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 469
  • Location: NYC
Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #11 on: December 28, 2016, 11:36:29 AM »
Unlike some others, when I read through the OP's post, I get the sense that she and her partner do want a kid. She says DH is getting "the fever;" he can talk about wanting to give a child the opportunities he never had etc etc, but there's really no other way to describe it other than a "fever" when someone truly wants to have a kid. Also, I don't read the OP's desire to "outsource motherhood" as a signal that she doesn't want a kid. Motherhood in our day and age seems to be this impossible ideal; I am a mother, and when I read about it in books / magazines / blogs, I want to have nothing to do with it, either. Fatherhood seems a much more reasonable alternative. Except maybe for 2 people who are already FI, caretaking is such a huge job that some of it has to be out-sourced. If not to friends / family, then nanny / sitters / daycare.

OP: If you are closer to 33 than 34, I think you can consider waiting 1 more year to get your health / finances / other stuff in order before trying. Your OB is looking at things from a medical / biological point of view exclusively. But in 1 year, you will have at least 400k in savings and be 2/3 through the contract that, while giving you the high income, is making both of you unhappy in other ways. If neither of you has any fertility issues, you have an 80% chance of getting pregnant within 3 months. So chances are you would still have your child at <35yo even if you wait a year.

70k spend is high for two people with no kids who want to reach FI ASAP, unless you are in an extremely HCOL area and spend 50k or something for housing and health care. We live in a HCOL area (NYC), and excluding daycare, we spend less than than 70k for the three of us, including ~5 plane trips and ~35k each year for housing. Of course, the cost of daycare here blows almost everything else out of the water. For two people, it would be pretty easy to spend no more than $20-25k in addition to housing costs. Any reduction in spending right now might seem trivial with your current huge salaries, but if you're able to live on a lower budget now, you'd have more options when you have a kid, including: 1) one or both of you going part-time, and 2) quitting the high-paying contract jobs and moving somewhere with friends and family.

My husband and I were truly on the fence. We were together for 10 years and waited until I was 38 before having our kid. We made this decision with the full knowledge that fertility for women starts going down significantly at 35, and the risk of genetic problems such as Down syndrome starts going up significantly. We took that gamble because our lives were also pretty great before we had our kid, and we would truly have been OK if pregnancy didn't work out for us. We would have maybe adopted a 4-5yo kid. I consider 38 to be the outside limit for women if they are serious about having biological kids. I know people who waited until their later 30s and were not able to have biological kids, so I would not recommend this path to you unless you truly, truly are on the fence.

meghan88

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 712
  • Location: Montreal
Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #12 on: December 28, 2016, 11:52:33 AM »
As the female half of a happy childless couple, I wouldn't trade the freedom we enjoy for anything in the world.

I know a lot of single parents and only a few families that survived to see the kids reach adulthood.  Kids can go a long way toward ruining marriages (intentionally or unintentionally) and it is ugly what happens when parents split up.  What if a parent wants to move away after the split, or has to move away in order to work?

In-laws will either interfere way too much or stay way too distant.  Family and social obligations become trickier.  Then there's dealing with the actual kid, and kids can be savages - whether it's your child ("heavens no - my child is an angel!") or another's child.

Plus this planet is such a mess these days that the thought of checking out in about 30 years and not leaving anyone behind is actually quite comforting.  While Mustachians are generally easier on the planet than most who are born into developed nations, we still have a large carbon footprint.

mskyle

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 693
Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #13 on: December 28, 2016, 11:59:38 AM »
Don't most of us already know how to be happy without kids? I've done it for most of my adult life. I know I'm giving something up by not having kids - I also don't have a PhD in Molecular Biology and I've never lived anywhere besides the US East Coast and I'm never going to be a ballerina or a concert pianist. We don't all get to experience everything and I'm OK with that. There are lots of ways to be happy.

Kids are wonderful and a source of a immense joy (just this weekend I got to see a three-year-old meet his newborn baby sister for the first time and when he held her on his lap he spontaneously exclaimed "I'm so happy we have a new baby sister!" and it was possibly the sweetest thing I have ever seen and that is a memory I will treasure). But even easy kids are a lot of work, and there are a million ways kids can break your heart. There is no guarantee your kids will share your values as they grow up. They might not even like you. Kids can be sad (or even truly depressed) for months or years for reasons and in ways that their parents cannot fix. I mean, not to go too dark, but sometimes kids *die* (this is on my brain because it happened to someone I know this year).

The main reason I think it's a bad idea to have kids if you're not sure, though, is that kids are pretty much the only decision you can't take back. You can get divorced. You can sell your house or buy it back. You can become a doctor after a 20 year career as a plumber or vice versa. But you can't stop being a parent, ever, and you can't even really say out loud that you regret having kids without being kind of a shitty parent (well I guess you can tell your therapist).

I have never known an opposite-sex couple where the gender dynamics improved when they had kids. Kids seem to exacerbate that kind of stuff even in egalitarian, feminist relationships and it's one of the reasons I've decided not to have kids (I'm a straight woman).

My feelings about having kids have waxed and waned over the years - when I was 30 I wanted kids (but had no partner and wasn't in a career position where I could make it work on my own). Now I'm 38 (with a partner who would be a great dad) and I am firmly on the "no thanks!" side of the fence. I love my nieces and nephews (biological and friend-wise) but I don't want kids for myself. I think if I had had kids five or ten years ago I'd be happy about it and a good parent. But I'm good at lots of things, that doesn't mean I need to commit the rest of my life to doing them.

Now you know one. I was OK but not great pre-kids, but I am confident my wife would agree that I have shouldered much more of the load post kid (still definitely less than 50%, alas, but I'm actively working on getting there!). In my opinion, this is one of those situations where shared values and mutual respect is critically important. I wanted to be an amazing father, and that absolutely meant taking responsibility for the increased household workload associated with a baby. To me, "being a man" is about taking care of the family and I see no reason why doing extra loads of laundry or watching the baby so my wife can have some time for herself doesn't fit into that obligation. I feel more motivated and more manly the more that I do to contribute around the house.

Traditionally, taking care of the family (from the husband's perspective) mostly refers to making money, but I firmly believe that's just a bullshit excuse for the husband to be lazy. Making money is not hard. I'll sing the praises of a stay at home spouse any day over a 70 hour/week executive who doesn't do anything when they get home. I'm not going to say your husbands or your friend's husbands are terrible spouses/fathers, but let it be known that in a strong marriage it is absolutely possible for the husband to become a better partner because of his children. 

All of that said, I think if you have realistic fears that your relationship might deteriorate due to a child that is definitely a warning sign that needs to be seriously considered. Having a child is by far one of the best things that ever happened to me, but I don't doubt it's not for everyone.

I'm not knocking you, and I'm sure you're great, and I know loads of fathers who *are* great. I guess I shouldn't have said no-one *improved* - more just that parenthood never *fixed* the gender issues. I've seen a lot of flaky behavior from fathers, I suspect because they are not taught from a young age that parenting/housekeeping is going to be their job the way girls/women are. The best example I can think of is a stay-at-home dad I knew who didn't realize that being the sole caretaker of a toddler was a reason for getting out of jury duty and ended up on a week-long trial. He was doing the *physical labor* of being the primary parent but he couldn't quite acquire the mindset; in most parenting couples I know, the division of labor problems aren't so much about who's doing the laundry or changing the diapers as they are about who takes on the mental load of keeping track of parenting stuff. It's also about outsiders' expectations: doctors, teachers, coaches, grandparents all tend to expect more from the mother than they do from the father, and it's a lot of work to push back against that.

Mariposa

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 469
  • Location: NYC
Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #14 on: December 28, 2016, 12:22:27 PM »
Parenting is still exhausting.  You say your husband would do all of the night stuff...but what if your kid literally wakes up every hour all night long, so he really needs you to do some of them in order to stay sane?  Not a hypothetical question, that was my night last night, and the only reason I'm awake at all today is that my husband and I each spent half of the night sleeping in the guest room while the other one of us dealt with the wakeups. 

This is all true. I've heard of other people also successfully divided the night like that, but what if your baby, like mine, wakes up every hour or more often and only wants to be nursed back to sleep? We tried paci / bottle / finger / letting him cry for ~20min. My husband would maybe wake up 1-2x a night to change a poopy diaper, but I had to deal with all the other wakenings all night long every night. It was an extremely difficult time, since I'm a poor sleeper myself and could not always fall back asleep, no matter how tired I was. All I can say is: that period was temporary. We had a difficult newborn, but he is a pretty good 16-month-old now. It has gotten easier. That's not to say I'm not expecting other challenges in the future . . .

But, OP: don't listen. If we had known how much work it was going to be taking care of a baby, we could never have made the decision to have one. We marshalled up our resources to deal with things as they came up, and so far we've survived and even been happy. Before having a kid, I thought I would have all this time to watch movies and work on other projects during maternity leave. Was I ever wrong. I've heard about those mythical babies: they either sleep or entertain themselves most of the time, are easily soothed, and start sleeping 12 hours straight at night at 6 weeks. We didn't get one of those, but maybe you will?

human

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 791
Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #15 on: December 28, 2016, 12:27:55 PM »
I don't have kids and have no plans to have them. People with kids may not like my response. I personally think if you need to see a therapist and then ask a bunch of strangers what they think, you are not ready.

I personally think that it's not a decision that should be difficult. What I mean by that is that if you really wanted kids you'd have them already (with this partner) or would already know that "I want them".

It should be a strong passionate feeling not some pro and con analysis or economic consideration leading to filling out a spreadsheet and then saying "I guess I'm having kids".

Sent from my SGH-I747M using Tapatalk


lbmustache

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 930
Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #16 on: December 28, 2016, 12:47:40 PM »
This is probably a stupid question as I'm sure you've considered all options...but have you /seriously/ considered adopting? Your husband wants to give a child opportunities, and with your income and lifestyle you could truly change the life of a child who's been in foster care for years. Neither of you seem interested in actually being a parent of a baby/toddler, so is adopting an older child the best route to go? I don't really see the point of outsourcing parenting, what's the point of even having a kid if you don't bond with them fully?

I have no kids so take this comment with a grain of salt.

I agree with all of this but also don't have a child.

sol

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8492
  • Age: 42
  • Location: Pacific Northwest
Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #17 on: December 28, 2016, 01:53:18 PM »
It should be a strong passionate feeling not some pro and con analysis or economic consideration leading to filling out a spreadsheet and then saying "I guess I'm having kids".

I disagree with this assessment.  Everything in your life should be a carefully considered choice, especially things as life altering as parenthood.  Living by the seat of your pants is a sure way to end up unhappy and in debt.

And modern society is very good at masking your biological urges.  We have myriad distractions to keep us busy, to occupy our lives with the trivial and meaningless.  Who has time for a family, when you need to upgrade your base in Clash of Clans?

human

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 791
Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #18 on: December 28, 2016, 03:34:18 PM »
It should be a strong passionate feeling not some pro and con analysis or economic consideration leading to filling out a spreadsheet and then saying "I guess I'm having kids".

I disagree with this assessment.  Everything in your life should be a carefully considered choice, especially things as life altering as parenthood.  Living by the seat of your pants is a sure way to end up unhappy and in debt.

And modern society is very good at masking your biological urges.  We have myriad distractions to keep us busy, to occupy our lives with the trivial and meaningless.  Who has time for a family, when you need to upgrade your base in Clash of Clans?

I agree to a certain extent but I don't think it's a good idea to make this assessment just because your partner wants kids and then if all the boxes are checked yes go and do it. It's not buying a car but raising a kid.

So to restate my position, don't bother with this whole rigmarole assessment if you do not feel this "passion", and it seems to me the OP does not. If you are unsure and then make this big assessment and decide you're going to go for it, well then good luck to you.


COlady

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 382
Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #19 on: December 28, 2016, 08:25:41 PM »
My husband and I kept saying that we would talk about having kids next year. Then next year, then next year. I had a, hard time finally deciding it was time. I never felt like I wanted children at this very moment in time, but when I looked at my life and future I knew I wanted kids and grandkids. If I wanted those things...I was 31 and it was time for us too make a decision. I stopped taking my pills and got pregnant with twins the first month. I cried and cried in the OBs office. I blacked out and hardly remember the appt. It was God saying, you've so got this. Now I wouldn't change a darn thing. My twins are 2 and hilarious little mischievous boys.

In summary, I guess my advice is look at your life as a whole, not just today but 20 years from now. What does it look like? Hopefully it brings you dinner clarity like it did ne.

COlady

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 382
Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #20 on: December 28, 2016, 08:26:45 PM »
Orry for typos...on phone.

Retire-Canada

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6728
Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #21 on: December 28, 2016, 08:50:33 PM »
I don't have kids and have no plans to have them. People with kids may not like my response. I personally think if you need to see a therapist and then ask a bunch of strangers what they think, you are not ready.

I don't disagree with this ^^^.

No kids here. Not going to have them. When I look around the planet doesn't need more people. So unless you conclude in no uncertain terms that you absolutely want to have kids don't have them.

About half my friends are having kids and half are not.

If the age thing is a big hang up I have several friends who were adopted and a couple of friends in their late 40's who just adopted. They are all happy with their situations. At least if you are uncertain and adopt you are helping out a child who needs it vs. creating a new life.

simplified

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 47
  • Location: SF bay area
Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #22 on: December 28, 2016, 09:28:01 PM »
Did you have loving & caring parents yourself? How was your family life growing up? Do you appreciate the sacrifices your parents made so that you will have a better life? Have your parents been your role models? Are they still involved in your life?

If your answers are mostly negative, you may have a hard time raising kids. If you have to ask, you should not have kids. Its hard enough even if you love kids and are passionate about them. Kids do take over your life. Kids are reserved only for special people!







okits

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 9060
  • Location: Canada
Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #23 on: December 28, 2016, 09:50:06 PM »
erae, when I read your OP the message I get isn't "we would have difficulty providing for a child", it's that a child would be too much work, too costly, too detrimental to your marital harmony, etc.  You think that you'll be great parents; will you have the endless love and self-sacrifice that children often need?  If your child has special needs or a crisis of some kind, are you both willing to prioritize him/her over your big money jobs, leisure time, FIRE, your own wellbeing?  It's okay to put these things first.  Just don't also have a child who, when s/he needs you, is secondary to them.

azure975

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 130
Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #24 on: December 28, 2016, 10:05:17 PM »

Lots of people are happy without kids.  I'm not saying it can't be done, I'm saying that it takes a certain kind of person, one who can successfully transfer those desires elsewhere.  I think of it just like people who live happy and fulfilling lives without sex, or dessert, or emotional intimacy, or music.  Like parenthood, these things are in your DNA whether you like it or not.  They aren't absolutely necessary for happiness, but they are the easy way that your brain prefers.


I am childfree and have never regretted it (am 41 now), but it does take more work to carve out a path in life than just going along with what the societal norm is (kinda like FIRE). I find that it is hard being different. Some people are used to being countercultural or actually strive to be countercultural so they are used to it, but up until my 30s I generally followed the typical lifescript so departing from that did require some soul-searching and fortitude. However, I feel that I am stronger for it and also have been able to develop a community of other childfree folks that I met through meetup which has been very rewarding. I also did have to intentionally find ways to make my life meaningful, whereas that seems automatic if you have kids. Ultimately my rescue animals have fulfilled that purpose in my life as well as the work I do in the animal rescue community. Overall I'm very happy with my decision.

Mariposa

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 469
  • Location: NYC
Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #25 on: December 28, 2016, 10:46:51 PM »
erae, when I read your OP the message I get isn't "we would have difficulty providing for a child", it's that a child would be too much work, too costly, too detrimental to your marital harmony, etc.  You think that you'll be great parents; will you have the endless love and self-sacrifice that children often need?  If your child has special needs or a crisis of some kind, are you both willing to prioritize him/her over your big money jobs, leisure time, FIRE, your own wellbeing?  It's okay to put these things first.  Just don't also have a child who, when s/he needs you, is secondary to them.

Agree with the endless love part, not so much the endless sacrifice. There are times your child needs to be prioritized over everything else, certainly, but you also need to take care of yourself and be happy in order to raise happy children. I believe in setting reasonable limits and encouraging the kid to do things himself, whenever possible. For example: yesterday, the kid learned to unretract a ballpoint pen and proceeded to scribble all over the couch when I wasn't looking. Today, when he found the pen again, I grabbed it out of his little hand: nevermore. Yes, he bawled for about a minute. But I refuse to live in a house with scribbles all over the furniture and walls. He also needs to learn to tolerate some amount of frustration and to be a civilized human being. (No: you can't eat that dead bug.)

I think the OP's concerns: the work, the cost, the effect of a child on marital harmony, are entirely reasonable ones when making the decision to have a child. I certainly thought about all those things and decided to have a child anyway.

Playing with Fire UK

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2615
Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #26 on: December 29, 2016, 12:32:29 AM »
I have never known an opposite-sex couple where the gender dynamics improved when they had kids. Kids seem to exacerbate that kind of stuff even in egalitarian, feminist relationships and it's one of the reasons I've decided not to have kids (I'm a straight woman).

Now you know one. I was OK but not great pre-kids, but I am confident my wife would agree that I have shouldered much more of the load post kid (still definitely less than 50%, alas, but I'm actively working on getting there!). In my opinion, this is one of those situations where shared values and mutual respect is critically important. I wanted to be an amazing father, and that absolutely meant taking responsibility for the increased household workload associated with a baby. To me, "being a man" is about taking care of the family and I see no reason why doing extra loads of laundry or watching the baby so my wife can have some time for herself doesn't fit into that obligation. I feel more motivated and more manly the more that I do to contribute around the house.

Traditionally, taking care of the family (from the husband's perspective) mostly refers to making money, but I firmly believe that's just a bullshit excuse for the husband to be lazy. Making money is not hard. I'll sing the praises of a stay at home spouse any day over a 70 hour/week executive who doesn't do anything when they get home. I'm not going to say your husbands or your friend's husbands are terrible spouses/fathers, but let it be known that in a strong marriage it is absolutely possible for the husband to become a better partner because of his children. 

All of that said, I think if you have realistic fears that your relationship might deteriorate due to a child that is definitely a warning sign that needs to be seriously considered. Having a child is by far one of the best things that ever happened to me, but I don't doubt it's not for everyone.

This is interesting and inspiring stuff. Can you identify what led to you stepping up rather than ducking out. My friends are newly expecting and he has been trying to step up this year but not doing as well as he hoped (his words).

Playing with Fire UK

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2615
Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #27 on: December 29, 2016, 01:10:31 AM »
...
I know my husband would handle all the direct care (late night feedings, diapers) of the baby, but I'd be on my own handling the increased logistical load of the house with a child. Both of our mothers were stay at home parents and devoted their working years to running a well-oiled and loving household. I am not a good candidate for SAH parenthood and my husband is our primary earner.
...
He's getting the fever and I wax romantic occasionally. He's told me that he knew going into this marriage that neither one of us wanted kids and it's not on me to accommodate his changed mind. As we've talked (and talked and talked) about parenting, I've come to the conclusion that I'd be interested in fatherhood but not motherhood. I can see a path to joint "fatherhood" if we allocate my salary to outsourcing "motherhood" through nannies, cleaning services, grocery delivery, etc (maybe that therapist was on to something...). Husband balks at spending so much money, but I think I could get him on board with a more detailed budget. He's assured me that he'll be fine if we don't have kids, but this pregnancy purgatory of being off the pill but not actively trying to conceive is a drag.
...

This is my read of this. He wants to be a parent more than you, but there is nothing here that makes me think he wants to be a primary parent (what you call 'motherhood').

In your thoughts about making this work, you seem to be putting all the emotional labour on yourself. If it is your salary and your plan to make this work then all the weight will still fall on you even if you have an extended team.

I'm not trying to judge you and your partner, some couples aren't cut out for parenthood (me and my partner aren't). If there is no-one that wants children enough to be a primary caregiver, I don't think children are a good idea. Just because he makes the higher salary doesn't mean he can't be a SAH or primary carer; you are spending less than your salary, you could make this work.

Finally, (and somewhat conversely), if you want it enough, you can make this work. Your post comes across as bright and articulate. You have an insight into your relationship and you've found ways of making the household tasks work by putting in more effort on your part. BUT, if you do this, you should be prepared that you may have to give up your idea of equal division of labour. Your partner hasn't shown you that he can step up and actually take responsibility for household tasks (you are in charge of the email list). Is this the example that you want to set for your child?

If you want kids enough to be a primary parent, do it. This isn't a gender thing, this is a personality and status quo of your relationship thing. Only go into this if you are willing to take the risk that your husband won't step up.

okits

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 9060
  • Location: Canada
Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #28 on: December 29, 2016, 02:20:01 AM »
erae, when I read your OP the message I get isn't "we would have difficulty providing for a child", it's that a child would be too much work, too costly, too detrimental to your marital harmony, etc.  You think that you'll be great parents; will you have the endless love and self-sacrifice that children often need?  If your child has special needs or a crisis of some kind, are you both willing to prioritize him/her over your big money jobs, leisure time, FIRE, your own wellbeing?  It's okay to put these things first.  Just don't also have a child who, when s/he needs you, is secondary to them.

Agree with the endless love part, not so much the endless sacrifice. There are times your child needs to be prioritized over everything else, certainly, but you also need to take care of yourself and be happy in order to raise happy children. I believe in setting reasonable limits and encouraging the kid to do things himself, whenever possible. For example: yesterday, the kid learned to unretract a ballpoint pen and proceeded to scribble all over the couch when I wasn't looking. Today, when he found the pen again, I grabbed it out of his little hand: nevermore. Yes, he bawled for about a minute. But I refuse to live in a house with scribbles all over the furniture and walls. He also needs to learn to tolerate some amount of frustration and to be a civilized human being. (No: you can't eat that dead bug.)

I asked the OP about special needs (disabilities, if that was unclear) or crises.  No one gets a guarantee that their child will have no congenital conditions, never become seriously ill, never suffer an accident or trauma, never experience violence or aggression, never struggle developmentally, never develop behavioural or psychological issues.  If you don't have a perfectly issue-free child then you're looking at an increased logistical load of parenting and household management when kiddo is having a rough time, and possibly a lot more caregiving.  OP is already concerned about these aspects in a scenario that doesn't mention any consideration for extra challenges.

While parents certainly should have their own interests and resources for self-care, they're still on the hook for ensuring their kid has (at a minimum) food, shelter, safety, attention, and physical/mental development.  There is no break from those responsibilities, and they will consume time, money, and energy previously available exclusively for the parents' careers, leisure activities, and relationship.  That's the self-sacrifice that goes on and on.  If you have a sick or troubled child then there's even more of it.

Quote
I think the OP's concerns: the work, the cost, the effect of a child on marital harmony, are entirely reasonable ones when making the decision to have a child. I certainly thought about all those things and decided to have a child anyway.

Sure, think about them, but if you keep coming to "I don't want to do the work or sacrifice X or spend Y" then accept that the two people in question don't want a child enough to do what's involved in raising one.  Playing with Fire UK's post above describes this extremely well.  Neither wants a kid enough to be the primary parent (with all the work and responsibility that goes with that).

RelaxedGal

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 350
  • Age: 41
  • Location: 495 corridor, Massachusetts, USA
Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #29 on: December 29, 2016, 08:40:40 AM »
My experience:
Husband wanted one kid, I wanted two.  It took a year to get pregnant.  After seeing a fertility specialist we decided we didn't want kids badly enough to do fertility treatments or adopt.  Conceived the next day. 

All of our family is a plane ride away.  Our parents and siblings all came to visit in the first month and saw firsthand how fussy/colicky/crying/needy this baby was.  We were miserable because of the lack of sleep and the screaming, and doubly so when the extra hands flew back home.  I went back to work 7 weeks postpartum and it was so wonderful to be around people who don't scream at me, people who can communicate their needs, and meet most of them on their own.  I went to the cubicle of each of my childless coworkers and warned them to never, EVER have children.  My husband got a vasectomy.

Things have gotten progressively better.  The pediatrician confirmed whet my husband suspected all along: the baby had acid reflux.  We got a prescription for Ranitidine and things got much better.  She was also sensitive to milk protein (passed through breastmilk) so I went dairy-free and things got even better.  Around 8 weeks she was sleeping for a couple of hours at a time and I was getting at least 5 total hours of sleep/night.  Bliss!  No, actually still miserable because that's not enough sleep, but it was much better.  By 4 months I was getting actual sleep (two 4 hour blocks) and then she started teething which meant more wake-ups, more screaming in the night, more time needing cuddles (and ibuprofen).  Between the exhaustion and having a little one in daycare I've never been so sick as that first year.  I got strep throat twice (and the antibiotics are almost worse than the disease), pink eye twice, norovirus hit our house, plus head colds and the little one got ear infections after the head colds which meant she had to stay home from daycare because of the fever until the Dr confirmed it was ear only.  I was pumping at the office mid-morning, on my lunch, and mid-afternoon which meant I had no time for office socialization.  I got pretty glum around 8 months and dropped the lunchtime pumping.  Adding lunchtime socialization did wonderful things for my mood but horrible things to my supply and trying to bring that up added a new dimension of stress.

She's nearly 6, and in Kindergarten.  Moving from a big daycare (only closed on the major holidays) to public schools (teacher in-service?  Snow days?  Half days?  April Vacation?) is taking some juggling.  It used to be that I had MLK day off and my husband had President's day, so we'd either take the day off and make it a date day (VERY needed when you have kids) or at least the one with the day off would meet the working one for lunch.  Now the one with the holiday off is staying home with our daughter.  And hopefully still meeting the working one for lunch, but it's definitely not a date.

If you're moving back near family in 2 years I recommend waiting a bit. I think nearby family would have helped us juggle things.  Maybe an extra adult to stay home with a sick baby once every few months so we didn't use all of our sick time.  Or an extra set of hands on a Saturday afternoon so I could use my own for something other than cradling the (needy, fussy) baby.  If you don't wait (or get surprised) it's OK to throw money at it.  We had a standing date night every week.  We used those two hours to do pedestrian things like go grocery shopping an embarrassing number of times.  It was worthwhile, though, to have 2 hours together as adults and reconnect.  Now that she has dropped afternoon nap and goes to bed an hour before us it's almost like a date night every night, and it is so nice.

Scandium

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2223
  • Location: EastCoast
Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #30 on: December 29, 2016, 09:21:52 AM »
I've come to the conclusion that I'd be interested in fatherhood but not motherhood. I can see a path to joint "fatherhood" if we allocate my salary to outsourcing "motherhood" through nannies, cleaning services, grocery delivery, etc

This is BS. The only difference is mothers carry the baby, give birth and breastfeed. Everything else can (and should) equally be done by both men and women. As a father I'm 90% of the time the one getting up when our son wake up at night. I change majority of diapers, clean the house at least half the time, get groceries, drop off at daycare, stay home when he's sick every other time etc. We both take the kid to the doctor together. Having male organs in no way prevent me from doing these things. (I'm the only one mowing the lawn though for some reason). I don't see this work as a "favor" I'm doing to my family because I'm special, it's simply what's minimum required and to be expected.

We work about the same amount, both desk jobs, fairly demanding. If the father works a ton and don't have the time to do this that's one thing. But "I'm the father" is not a valid reason to avoid anything that doesn't absolutely require a vagina.

mm1970

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6982
Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #31 on: December 29, 2016, 10:54:33 AM »
I've come to the conclusion that I'd be interested in fatherhood but not motherhood. I can see a path to joint "fatherhood" if we allocate my salary to outsourcing "motherhood" through nannies, cleaning services, grocery delivery, etc

This is BS. The only difference is mothers carry the baby, give birth and breastfeed. Everything else can (and should) equally be done by both men and women. As a father I'm 90% of the time the one getting up when our son wake up at night. I change majority of diapers, clean the house at least half the time, get groceries, drop off at daycare, stay home when he's sick every other time etc. We both take the kid to the doctor together. Having male organs in no way prevent me from doing these things. (I'm the only one mowing the lawn though for some reason). I don't see this work as a "favor" I'm doing to my family because I'm special, it's simply what's minimum required and to be expected.

We work about the same amount, both desk jobs, fairly demanding. If the father works a ton and don't have the time to do this that's one thing. But "I'm the father" is not a valid reason to avoid anything that doesn't absolutely require a vagina.

Yeah, but statistically, it's not that even.  (It's totally even in my house!)

And her husband being from a developing country - I'm guessing he's even more "traditional" than the US.  Just guessing though.  Plus the mention of both their parents being SAHMs with smoothly running households.

Lagom

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1258
  • Age: 36
  • Location: SF Bay Area
Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #32 on: December 29, 2016, 11:08:57 AM »
This is interesting and inspiring stuff. Can you identify what led to you stepping up rather than ducking out. My friends are newly expecting and he has been trying to step up this year but not doing as well as he hoped (his words).

Hmm, not sure what I can offer other than he should reflect on his relationship and how much he values his wife's happiness and well-being. It sounds a bit trite maybe, but that's mostly what motivated me. My ex was an extremely selfish person while my wife is giving to a fault. Knowing what it feels like to be the spouse who is expected to do everything, I can't bear to do that to my wife, even when she openly offers to take on more of the load. She is so thoughtful and wonderful that I would feel like a total ass taking advantage just because I want to sleep more and dislike doing certain chores. Also, I feel like a badass for voluntarily taking on extra work (beyond what's expected) in the name of helping my family. As I said, to me that defines manliness.

I also want to feel like I am actively parenting. It's important to me to have a strong role in my child's development and going to work has exactly zero to do with any of that. Why wouldn't I want to participate in feedings, play time, late night soothing, etc.? In my opinion, if you actually want kids, all of these things shouldn't be seen as drawbacks or challenges any more than, say, the physical labor involved in building something. With the right mindset (a mustachian mindset, one might say!), the labor itself can be quite satisfying and either way, the reward is always worth it in the end.

Note that I agree with all of you mentioning that there is a cultural/statistical issue with fathers as a group not doing their fair share. My only response is that they are not acting in a manly fashion. If they are mustachian, at least there is some chance they might recognize that fact (maybe don't word it that way!) and embrace hedonistic adaptation and the satisfaction to be found in working hard to create something wonderful.

Cpa Cat

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1625
Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #33 on: December 29, 2016, 11:39:23 AM »
I identify with just about every single thing in your post. Seriously. The gender dynamics, the ambivalence about children and the reasons for it - I could have written this post.

I got married when I was 20 and we weren't sure if we wanted children. Now I'm 34 and I'm sure I don't want children. My husband continues to be ambivalent, and as he gets older he sometimes ruminates on the idea that we're not leaving anything behind.

I've told him that we could have a child if he wants, and I wouldn't object to it. I would grow the baby in my own womb, even. But once it was born, I would rent an office outside our home and work full time. I do not want to be a stay at home mother. The idea that I would be the person who is 100% responsible for making doctor's appointments and going to them and meeting with teachers and staying up late with a sick kid - ack. It might be different if I was the person who was 25% responsible for those things, or if my husband decided to take on being a stay at home father. But that's not what would happen. In fact, I feel like I would resent it if I did 25% and my nanny did 74% while my husband did 1%. Oh sure, he'd play games with our kid - but clean up vomit and poopy diapers? Guess when he last cleaned the cat litter.

I think this is what you mean by outsourcing motherhood. It's not that you wouldn't love your child and nurture your child, it's that there is a traditional job of "motherhood" that involves taking on the majority - or all - of the labor tasks, and you do not want that job.

I don't know how to advise you. We are making the childless-by-choice decision and I do feel that I'm happier than if we had a kid. I am not 100% sure that my husband is happier. But then, I would probably be more inclined to have children if he was "mommy" and I got to be "daddy". I understand that for some parents, they feel that there should be no difference in those two roles - but there would be in my relationship.

erae

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 90
Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #34 on: December 29, 2016, 02:29:54 PM »
Thanks to all who have taken the time to leave their two cents on this thread. You're a thoughtful group and each post brings up great points that I'm still digesting. A few initial themes I'm taking away so far:


Division of Responsibility/Gender Dynamics
Props to the men who have worked to equalize housekeeping + caregiving duties in their own marriages. Most marriages - mine included - will never look like that. I called it mommyhood because I have yet to see a truly egalitarian marriage when kids are involved, but defusing the gender bit with less-loaded terms like primary/secondary parent works too. Either way, my take-away from this thread is that a precondition for baby-making is that I need to let go of any ideas I'm holding onto about fairness - whether it's a lack of egalitarian marriage models, love languages (for those familiar, I'm all Acts of Service + Quality Time and he's Physical Touch + Quality Time) or just that my husband is an awesome partner but a shitty roommate - the burden of a child would fall disproportionately on me, just as the household management has. So I would need to accept that reality and THEN unapologetically throw money at outsourcing the logistical support I would no longer expect from a partner. Appreciate historienne and Cpa Cat ballparking that percentage at 60-75% and for the parents whose graphic illustrations of late night parenthood and bodily fluids (RelaxedGal, Mrs.Dinero) helped to sketch out that remaining 25-40% that we would need to embrace as parents.
Okits hit a nerve, too, citing how strong these parental responsibilities can become if our kid has special needs. Part of the caregiving I did in my 20's was in a residential program for kids with autism. I think some of the gravity I feel around parenthood comes from (too-deeply?) understanding the care special needs kids require, and the strained marriages I saw in that role.

Zooming Out
I had read/heard/picked up from some dubious source (these forums?) a formula for figuring out how many kids to have: take the average of (1) the number of babies you want (2) the number of school kids you want (3) the number of adult children you want = the "right" number of kids. It sounded ridiculous, but it does help me zoom out from fixating on a super needy baby/toddler years. I have a lot of girlfriends going through the baby and toddler years and from where I'm sitting they look brutal: women leaving jobs b/c they can't find childcare, insane hours trying to balance everything, constant exhaustion. But a few of you brought up a long-game approach to thinking about family: the happiness (Fireball, KCM5), the evolution of parenting through a kids' life, the biological component, that I don't get to see very often from where I sit right now in my own life.

Life as a Non-Romantic
I'm also grateful for the stories of others who also lacked the rose-colored glasses so many seem to have around parenting, too - COlady, dca, and sol. I'm not one to get "fever" about anything - kids, marriage, careers - so the biological clock and baby fever paradigms just don't resonate. Maybe that means parenting isn't for me? I think it's more likely to indicate, as others mentioned, that I could go either way and be happy either way. Azure975, msklye, and CPA cat are all models for well-considered childfree lives. I'm very community oriented and could easily direct my energy into projects and non-parenting relationships. My husband is more of a homebody and introvert, but he has said he could "feed" other interests and expectations about his future if we decide against kids.

Thanks, again, for all of your comments






astvilla

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 234
Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #35 on: December 29, 2016, 03:42:22 PM »
I don't know if Mustachians as a subset group attract more DINKs than the general population since Mustachians value freedom, independence.  Goals of FIRE and enjoying life, not about being tethered to one or more children.

FWIW, as mentioned before, humans are "supposed" to reproduce and it's how we evolved.  Your brain does change when and after you have kids. 

And just to scare childless women lol, your risk of breast cancer actually goes down if you get pregnant.  And actually, the younger you are when pregnant, the lower the breast cancer risk.  FYI

https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/hormones/reproductive-history-fact-sheet

So I'd be inclined to say from a purely biological, evolutionary, and health beneficial standpoint, having kids is probably a good thing. And I think there's a good reason biologically for the pressure to have kids (we would die out).  The division of responsibilities also has deep roots in biology as there are similarities/stereotypes in many cultures regarding child rearing and womens' role in society. Also, having kids offers caretakers (if the kids are raised right) so in the long run, there's a good benefit to having kids, granted if the kids are raised well to love their parents.

That plus the work-life balance in our culture and family culture of kicking our parents out of our lives when we are 18 (or 30 now? lol) makes raising kids on 2 parents more difficult.  I imagine if laws mandated maternity leave for both parents, prevented discrimination, protected job security, reduced stress from job and finances, and made having+ raising kids much easier, more people would actually have kids.  I hear in Germany or other countries with low birth rates, there are more incentives and accommodations to have kids?  But in the US we don't have that problem in part cause of immigration? If new policies and laws are adopted to help have kids, probably more would consider it.

Playing with Fire UK

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2615
Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #36 on: December 30, 2016, 02:00:07 AM »
And just to scare childless women lol, your risk of breast cancer actually goes down if you get pregnant.  And actually, the younger you are when pregnant, the lower the breast cancer risk.  FYI

I see your risk of breast cancer and raise you obstetric fistula.

GilbertB

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 130
  • Age: 42
  • Location: Gent
    • Sci-fi Meandering
Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #37 on: December 30, 2016, 04:09:21 AM »
Kids are great, but you must really want them, have the desire to love etc.

I've had to give up things, yeah, but teaching STEM to a 4 year old girl that's sitting on your knees is all king of awesome (yeah for Khan Academy's "early math" games), that beats beer pong everyday.
And now we can go running together (she's on her bike), tickling fights, drawing or trying to explain why the physics of Paw Patrol does not make sense...

Or just cleaning the kitchen with her doing a cuddly "Alien Facehugger" to my head/shoulders.

I'll be teaching her welding in a few years so she can out boy the boys :)

soccerluvof4

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5495
  • Location: Artic Midwest
  • Retired at 50
    • My Journal
Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #38 on: December 30, 2016, 07:26:10 AM »
I have 4 kids and we wanted them and thought we had it all figured out and planned financially to have them. Bam....WRONG! but still best decision we ever made. Sol's first post was laughable but to point and I agree totally with him. I will say in your case and with some of the problems you are having there is no way I would consider having kids. You guys need to take care of the health of your relationship and some issues before taking on more. I have always had respect for people that were honest about reason not having kids then just having them to have them. I am not saying thats your case but as others have said a lot of red flags in you initial post.

DirtDiva

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 216
  • Location: Rocky Mountains
Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #39 on: December 30, 2016, 07:26:39 AM »
We are one of those couples who were ambivalent about having kids, but "took the plunge" and had a son after we had been married 8 years.

The gender imbalance was very real in my life.  DH did not step up as a father or as a roommate.  Paying a once-weekly cleaning person made things better but as you can imagine, there were many, many other obligations that fell to me.

Additionally, the son had oppositional defiant tendencies from an early age.  Very intelligent, and very determined to do his own thing.  Not a people-pleaser.  It was a tough 18 years.

It's not possible to say I wish he had never been born.  We both love him and we three have a fairly close, though complicated, relationship with him.  He and his Dad are currently reading and and discussing Martha Nussbaum's book Anger and Forgiveness.  They are both philosophers at heart.

But his presence in our lives nearly ended what was before and has become again a very close, loving, and rewarding marriage.

I once revealed on the now-defunct Simple Living forum that if I had to do it again I would not have had a child.  There was a shitstorm of anger and criticism toward me.  Llhamo was a voice in the wilderness, defending my honesty. 

rockstache

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5900
  • Age: 2015
  • Location: Northeast
Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #40 on: December 30, 2016, 07:41:36 AM »

I once revealed on the now-defunct Simple Living forum that if I had to do it again I would not have had a child.  There was a shitstorm of anger and criticism toward me.

I'm really sorry to hear that. I greatly appreciate your perspective and honesty.

acroy

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1702
  • Age: 42
  • Location: Dallas TX
    • SWAMI
Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #41 on: December 30, 2016, 07:59:46 AM »
Do it! Commit to it and do it well!
Seriously, it helps give purpose, direction, meaning to life. Put something into the world instead of just taking. Best of luck!

Typhoid Mary

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 64
  • Location: The Good Life, Nebraska
Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #42 on: December 30, 2016, 08:19:58 AM »
I'm not going to try to talk you out of kids, I for one am a person who found my life's purpose in motherhood.  I stayed at home with my two daughters until the youngest started kindergarten (both husband and I wanted this) and I recently returned to full time work (both husband and I wanted this).  I did all the child care and housework from 8-5 when I was home (the length of his work day) and we split all the chores/cares after 5 and on weekends.  When I returned to work, now everything is split 50/50, but I am still usually the "default" parent when the kids are hurt or sick.  They want mommy, they just do, even though daddy would help them in a heartbeat. It's been great for us, and equal and fair and all that other fun stuff.
THAT BEING SAID........

When everyone talks about having kids, they always assume a healthy child.
That isn't always the case.

Our first born son had Down Syndrome and multiple medical fragilities that would have required life long care and expensive treatments had he not passed away when he was a few weeks old from his heart defect and brain hemorrhage.  Some of you have read my journal to know that his 19 days of life cost over $250,000 (pre Obama-care crappy health insurance) and that we were on the hook for a large portion of that.  Again, money is not something we considered important when held against the importance of our son. Son>$$.  Always. 

Why do I bring this up? Because nothing in life is guaranteed.  Your child could have medical conditions that required one of you to leave your careers and be a full time caregiver.  You could need 24 hour in home nursing care.  You could have a perfectly healthy baby.  You just never know. 

If you are on the fence about a healthy baby, I would encourage you to explore your feelings about the possibility of an unhealthy baby and rethink some more. 


lizzzi

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2111
Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #43 on: December 30, 2016, 08:44:58 AM »
Taking a much longer view on the subject...I loved having my two children for the first 17 years. Then they got old enough to more or less go out into the world and do what they wanted. (We did pay for college for both of them.) Now that both adult children are at middle age and I guess I am almost a senior citizen, I have to say that other than those first, fulfilling, child-raising years, it's been a huge waste of time and money. Shouldn't have bothered. Neither has much in common with me or cares much about me, except when they want something. I'm not being negative or critical--I certainly want both of them to have the lives they want. But I find that close friendships and a second, very happy marriage have given me a far better life than relationships with my adult children have. Good families are golden, but not all families are like the Waltons or families on the Disney channel...and there's really no way to know how your kids are going to turn out in the long haul. Just saying.

limeandpepper

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4500
  • Location: Australasia
Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #44 on: December 30, 2016, 09:18:56 AM »
If you are on the fence about a healthy baby, I would encourage you to explore your feelings about the possibility of an unhealthy baby and rethink some more.

This. So much this. Yes, these days you have advanced medical technology and screening yadda yadda yadda, but nothing is ever guaranteed. And even if the child is born healthy, something could happen afterwards to turn your worlds upside down.

OP, read this thread:

https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/sl93q/get_out_the_throwaways_dear_parents_of_disabled/

And I'll contribute a story, too:

I work at a restaurant. Every week this nice older man comes in with his grown-up daughter. She can walk and eat only with his assistance. I think she might be able to say a few words, max. He orders her meal and drink first, and feeds her. Only after she's done, he orders his own meal and eats. If he has a wife, I've never seen her. I wouldn't be surprised if he did have a marriage that ended because of all the incredible difficulties involved in raising this special needs child.

There is no way I can cope with something like this. Sure, the chances are small, but if you're one of the unlucky ones, that's it. You've signed off on your freedom in an awfully major way, indefinitely... and you can really only mitigate this by being rich enough to hire people to help you deal with it. I think for people who really, really, really want kids, the desire is so strong that they can read stories like that and still be willing to take the risk. Are you one of them?

---

P.S. Though I am not the OP, I want to give huge thanks to the people who dare to be honest about regretting having kids, in this thread or anywhere else. Thanks to you, there might be fewer regretted children out there. I have personally always felt indifferent about the whole kids thing (I don't find the idea repulsive, but I'm not enthusiastic about it either), and probably the main thing that sways me is the massive chorus that says "you'll regret not having kids" and "it's different when it's your own, it's incredible like nothing else and it's always worth it". But because of voices like yours, I know that there are all sorts of possibilities and I can make a more educated decision.

Poundwise

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1497
Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #45 on: December 30, 2016, 09:41:13 AM »
Two more cents for your bucket of pennies:
- Are you or your husband the types of people who nurse regret?  I have read that in a comparison between taking an action vs. not taking an action, people most often regret not taking an action. If this is the case, you may want to consider having a child.

- How flexible are you? Becoming a parent means embracing uncertainty.  You don't know what kind of child you will get. You don't know what kind of mother you will be, what kind of father your spouse will be.  You don't know if the baby will spit up on your blouse just as you are about to go to work, or where your toddler will have hidden your cell phone, or whether you'll get an email from an irate teacher because your child got into a fight at school.  You don't know if they will grow up to be adults that you respect or even like. You can influence the outcomes some, but there is no real control.

For me, it worked out pretty well.  I never thought I liked children much, even as a kid, but when I was 33 I had an annoying stomach bug which turned out to be pregnancy.  And I turned out to love babies and children.  My kids are so far healthy and happy. And my husband, who previously had a laissez-faire attitude towards housework, has developed over the years into a meticulous housekeeper. On the other hand, I surprised myself by abandoning my career as a scientist to stay at home with the kids. I have some regret there, but am still hopeful that I can pick up again after they grow up, even if I can't be a superstar academic. I feel that my husband and I went through the fire and have emerged as better humans as a result of parenting.

For an opposing outcome, a relative struggled for years to have children, spending tens of thousands on IVF.  I am sorry to say that she seems to be miserable still. On the other hand, I doubt she would say she is sorry that she had her kids, who are also generally healthy and happy.

Maybe it comes down to this: are you and your husband basically happy, contented people already? Or is your happiness very fragile? How easy is it to knock you off balance?  I feel that having kids usually makes a person more of who they are already.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2017, 06:38:45 PM by Poundwise »

Playing with Fire UK

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2615
Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #46 on: December 30, 2016, 10:20:01 AM »
P.S. Though I am not the OP, I want to give huge thanks to the people who dare to be honest about regretting having kids, in this thread or anywhere else. Thanks to you, there might be fewer regretted children out there. I have personally always felt indifferent about the whole kids thing (I don't find the idea repulsive, but I'm not enthusiastic about it either), and probably the main thing that sways me is the massive chorus that says "you'll regret not having kids" and "it's different when it's your own, it's incredible like nothing else and it's always worth it". But because of voices like yours, I know that there are all sorts of possibilities and I can make a more educated decision.

This. Thanks for being so brave. I am the person IRL that people tell that they (either in a desperate moment or in general) wouldn't have children again. Every single one thinks that they are the only one. This is not a helpful situation. I know that you love your kid(s).

I'm also the person that needs to hear some balance instead of this permanent stream of pro-baby parents telling me that child rearing is 100% sunshine and no shit.

Playing with Fire UK

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2615
Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #47 on: December 30, 2016, 10:26:52 AM »
Found this relevant link

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-38145118

Quote
It's good to know I'm not the only one who has felt empty being a mom. While I love my two children very much, I feel today I should never have had them. Not only are they expensive, but to raise children comes at a cost to career advancement unless women wait until they are over 35. There are so many reasons to feel joy in being a mom, but I feel exhausted and unfulfilled.

pachnik

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1833
  • Age: 55
  • Location: Vancouver, BC
Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #48 on: December 30, 2016, 10:41:34 AM »
I don't have any kids.  I honestly was never very interested in having them.  probably no maternal bone in my entire body. 

Also, my childhood wasn't great - i really struggled in many ways.   I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to help my kids if I had any and that they would have to struggle too. 

sol

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8492
  • Age: 42
  • Location: Pacific Northwest
Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #49 on: December 30, 2016, 10:54:26 AM »
Don't you worry, baby haters.  Immigrants will keep our country alive and healthy even as our first world birth rate drops below replacement levels.

Fortunately, our government is so very accepting of all of those incoming optimistic immigrants, seeking a better life in America!