Author Topic: on the fence re: kids  (Read 26336 times)

wenchsenior

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Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #100 on: January 04, 2017, 04:48:31 PM »
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Quote from: okits on January 03, 2017, 12:12:27 PM
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Quote from: lizzzi on December 30, 2016, 08:44:58 AM
I have to say that other than those first, fulfilling, child-raising years, it's been a huge waste of time and money.

This is the single most depressing thing I have read on these forums.  Without question.  My god.

I second that. Maybe the kids don't come around because you have a bad attitude about life so they're distancing themselves?

Yeah, depressing, but I appreciate the honesty.  There are many facets to family situations, so a pat explanation (if the parents have a bad attitude the kids will stay away) can't capture the complexities of many real life situations.

I appreciate the honesty as well. Also, I think the negative reaction to that story really has more to do with the person reacting than the reality of the situation. If you have a child that you enjoy right now, you don't want to think that your relationship could sour in the future. So you think it must have been something the parent did, and that you won't do.

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The cult of having children feels a lot like religion to me. For people in it, who really believe in it, it seems almost impossible to see how something that brings you so much meaning could be a burden to someone else. For those on the outside, you're confused why everyone is involved in this ritual that has no meaning for you. Both sides would argue that they're the ones with their eyes open and know what really matters, but in the end can you really prescribe a one-size-fits-all approach for everyone?

I didn't say that that statement was depressing to be judgemental.  It was a gut emotional reaction to a very strong statement about LIVING children that this person spent 18 years with and has apparently no emotional attachment.  Child-loving or child-free, that is just a sad, sad thing to read.  Imagine being told, or just knowing that your parents consider you a "waste of time and money".  It just took my breath away to read, that's all.   And yes, as a parent of a teenager, I would be heartbroken to think that I could ever feel this way.  Even if my teen ended up being a horrible adult, I am as certain as I can be that I would not view raising the child as "a waste of time and money". 



Well, I guess 'waste of time and money' definitely depends on what you expected to get out of child-rearing, right?    I mean, if you go into it hoping/expecting that you will end up really liking your children as adults (as well as just reflexively loving them just because...that's what hormones wire you to do) and that you will be close to them as adults, and that they will grow into people you admire or are proud to have raised...Don't you think it's pretty common for those things to not pan out?  My impression is it that it is quite common, certainly among people of my acquaintance. It's not the majority, but it isn't rare. 

And as for the reverse, where the grown kids end up feeling only mild attachment/fondness or just indifference to parents once they are independent, is even more common, I'm pretty sure.  Depending on what your expectations were as a parent, that could suck a lot and you could end up considering all your effort and hopes a waste, I guess.

Anyway, I think benign indifference or mild fondness shouldn't be that surprising.

Note: This doesn't even include all the actively resentful or hostile relationships going one way or the other, which are pretty common as well, but usually result from some kind of familial dysfunction.

Lagom

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Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #101 on: January 04, 2017, 04:55:14 PM »
As a former teacher who has in various capacities worked with kids from pre-school through college, I do think it's worth stressing that if your kid has a negative relationship with you that is not related to some kind of disability or trauma, most of the time (certainly not always) it's at least partially your fault. For example, when I taught middle school I had kids cussing and saying all kinds of nasty stuff straight to my face. Boundary pushing, hormones, etc. And it didn't bother me at all because it was normal and also they were 12. Why should I care if a 12 year old wants to insult me? If anything, it was hard not to laugh at them. And guess what, the kids loved me (even the rebels). I respected them and listened to them, and failed to take the bait when they tried to get a rise out of me. I was a consistent supportive presence, which made classroom management quite easy in the end. Other teachers I knew punished, even suspended the trouble makers, or worse, yelled back at them. They never had their student's respect (at best they were feared) and some of them probably ended up posting a lot of negative comments on some forum thread titled "on the fence re: becoming a teacher."

I have found the above approach is the same when parenting. Be your kid's advocate and adviser first and foremost. Realize that their bad attitude is almost certainly temporary and completely normative, as are their mistakes. If you find yourself getting angry, put yourself on timeout and cool off. They are kids and you are an adult. Nothing they do should phase you.* Adult children on the other hand... well hopefully a lifetime of consistency will make them a joy as well, but you can't control everything :)

*Note I am, of course, not referring to extreme cases (kids committing major crimes or whatever), but those situations are way to rare to be worth worrying about as a perspective parent and still usually a result of an avoidable series of events.

totoro

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Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #102 on: January 04, 2017, 05:05:25 PM »
Didn't read through the debate but to the OP I'd say either way is okay.   

The choice you make will radically change how your life functions and your close relationships, but you will adjust and be pretty happy either way I'd bet.   Just google "the psychology of human adjustment" and read up :)

I didn't want kids, and then at 30 I suddenly did.  Adds work, expense and stress, but also brings a lot of joy and close connectedness. 

I'm grateful for them and I look forward to grandchildren.  I prefer this to not having kids by far now, but have close friends and family who are perfectly happy without them even if they wanted to have kids initially and couldn't.

Pigeon

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Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #103 on: January 04, 2017, 05:13:39 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.

I very strongly disagree.  Adopted older children frequently have a variety of issues that can be extremely time and labor intensive.  They need more parental effort, not less.  There are many good reasons to adopt older children, but that they will be easy is not one of them.

Meowmalade

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Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #104 on: January 04, 2017, 05:53:38 PM »
I'm also at the age where if I want to have kids, I need to start trying now.  A few years ago, we were planning to have kids, and I was tremendously stressed about all the decisions.  At the time, I was working full-time with a side business and my life was like working two full-time jobs, and something was going to have to give.  I also didn't know whether I wanted to stay home or find a daycare, and was worrying about how I would handle the first few years of raising a baby as I don't deal well with lack of sleep and stress.  To make a long story short, my husband felt that there are too many people in the world, and he asked me if I would be okay not having a kid (we had previously discussed adoption but I came to the conclusion that it wasn't for me).  I was initially upset, but then after some thought, decided that it was okay, and figured that I still had time to try if I changed my mind.  I started off feeling like I might be making the wrong decision and missing some huge part of life, but as the weeks passed, I felt like a weight had been lifted off me.  We wouldn't add the environmental impact of another human (plus future generations) to the planet.  I did not have to make all the decisions that I had been stressing about.  I can sleep through the night, and when I am sick with allergies and can barely take care of myself, I do not have to take care of a baby as well.  I don't have to worry that our child will have a disability or a terrible personality or that something will happen to them.  We hear about scary things from our friends (open-heart surgery for my friend's little girl!), see all the things on the news, and I constantly say "thank god we don't have kids".  I have a lovely little niece, so I can still be the doting aunt.

I didn't find MMM until after, but that's when we first realized that maybe we could FIRE!  We were worried about being laid off earlier this year, but knew we would be okay and could keep our house even if it happened.  If we had kids, we'd have been ready to pick up and move to another city for work.  We have so much freedom right now, and the future looks bright!

Just another viewpoint from someone who's been on the fence :)

CanuckExpat

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Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #105 on: January 04, 2017, 07:36:17 PM »
this pregnancy purgatory of being off the pill but not actively trying to conceive is a drag

A bit of a sidenote, doesn't the quoted part above mean that you are simply having sex? What's the drag.. you get to have sex :)

CanuckExpat

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Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #106 on: January 04, 2017, 07:40:22 PM »
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I have to say that other than those first, fulfilling, child-raising years, it's been a huge waste of time and money.

This is the single most depressing thing I have read on these forums.  Without question.  My god.

Perhaps I'm reading your sentiment wrong. Are you implying the poster shouldn't have those feelings, shouldn't share those feelings out-loud, or that it's unfortunate that the poster had that experience?

I can understand the last reason, but couldn't support the first two. I'd like to thank the poster for being honest about his/her feelings, it's not something people get to talk about often probably because of certain reactions. In anonymous surveys, and most rigorous research, lots of feelings similar to the posters comes up, but it is not always something people feel comfortable discussing with others, because they are told they shouldn't feel that way.

I thank the poster for being honest, and encourage others to do the same when possible. Especially since OP was asking for honest opinions.


pbkmaine

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Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #107 on: January 04, 2017, 08:13:45 PM »
As a person who has always been childless by choice, I have had many people express regrets about having children to me. I assume they felt it was "safe" to to tell me. One woman, hearing a mutual friend extoll the virtues of parenthood, took me aside and fiercely told me to stick to my guns. "Huge waste of time and energy" is far more common than you think.

sonjak

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Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #108 on: January 04, 2017, 08:39:08 PM »
I've enjoyed reading the thread and appreciate everyone's input.  I'm CF and am very happy about it.  I've become more sure the older I get.  But I also love my nieces and nephews and am selfishly grateful for my siblings who chose to have kids and are great parents so that I really enjoy the people my nieces/nephews are and continue to grow into.

I wanted to share this link though as I think it's funny and insightful and written by a parent who sees both sides (Why You should Never, Ever Get a Tattoo but Having a Baby is Fine):

http://www.theuglyvolvo.com/why-you-should-never-ever-ever-get-a-tattoo-but-having-a-baby-is-fine/

Here's a recent post about having a second child: funny/painful/touching:
http://www.theuglyvolvo.com/the-33-step-extremely-fun-board-game-of-having-a-second-child/

Lagom

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Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #109 on: January 04, 2017, 09:00:05 PM »
I've enjoyed reading the thread and appreciate everyone's input.  I'm CF and am very happy about it.  I've become more sure the older I get.  But I also love my nieces and nephews and am selfishly grateful for my siblings who chose to have kids and are great parents so that I really enjoy the people my nieces/nephews are and continue to grow into.

I wanted to share this link though as I think it's funny and insightful and written by a parent who sees both sides (Why You should Never, Ever Get a Tattoo but Having a Baby is Fine):

http://www.theuglyvolvo.com/why-you-should-never-ever-ever-get-a-tattoo-but-having-a-baby-is-fine/

Here's a recent post about having a second child: funny/painful/touching:
http://www.theuglyvolvo.com/the-33-step-extremely-fun-board-game-of-having-a-second-child/

Uh oh, what have I done? I have both! :O

totoro

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Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #110 on: January 04, 2017, 09:43:14 PM »
As a person who has always been childless by choice, I have had many people express regrets about having children to me. I assume they felt it was "safe" to to tell me. One woman, hearing a mutual friend extoll the virtues of parenthood, took me aside and fiercely told me to stick to my guns. "Huge waste of time and energy" is far more common than you think.

Totally respect the choice and agree there will be some that regret but anecdotal evidence is not the same as stats.  There are stats based on widescale surveys. I'll dig up the links later but 97 percent of mothers were happy with having kids in one carried out by the us health department.  A large percent who did not have kids were happy with this too although regret rate was higher.  I personally believe people have a wide adjustment margin.  Have kids - odds are you'll be happy with it.  Don't have kids?  Same. 

The only part I find difficult is when people push one side or another on someone who has decided one way or the other and they don't let it go when asked to. Usually the person who has chosen no kids.

totoro

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Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #111 on: January 05, 2017, 01:57:58 AM »
Here is the survey:

97% of mothers said rewards are worth the costs
https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_23/sr23_026.pdf

The 3% or so who did not agree are still a significant cohort. 

Here is a gallop poll on the desire to have children.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/9091/Desire-Children-Alive-Well-America.aspx

"What about the third of Americans who don't have children and are over 40? The majority of these people say that, if they had it to do over again, they would have at least one child."

About 4% did not want children at all.

And yet when you look at how happy people are, the fact that they may or may not regret having children (or not) doesn't seem to impact life satisfaction too much over the long-term.  Studies found that satisfaction varied for parents and that:

(a) parenthood by itself has substantial and enduring positive effects on life satisfaction;
(b) these positive effects are offset by financial and time costs of parenthood; and
(c) the impact of these costs varies considerably with family factors, such as the age and number of children, marital status, and the parents' employment arrangements.

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jomf.12095/abstract

GuitarStv

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Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #112 on: January 05, 2017, 06:46:53 AM »
Here is the survey:

97% of mothers said rewards are worth the costs
https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_23/sr23_026.pdf

The 3% or so who did not agree are still a significant cohort. 

Here is a gallop poll on the desire to have children.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/9091/Desire-Children-Alive-Well-America.aspx

"What about the third of Americans who don't have children and are over 40? The majority of these people say that, if they had it to do over again, they would have at least one child."

About 4% did not want children at all.

And yet when you look at how happy people are, the fact that they may or may not regret having children (or not) doesn't seem to impact life satisfaction too much over the long-term.  Studies found that satisfaction varied for parents and that:

(a) parenthood by itself has substantial and enduring positive effects on life satisfaction;
(b) these positive effects are offset by financial and time costs of parenthood; and
(c) the impact of these costs varies considerably with family factors, such as the age and number of children, marital status, and the parents' employment arrangements.

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jomf.12095/abstract

Of course most people will say that the rewards are worth the costs.

- There's a huge stigma (particularly for mothers) against saying anything bad about your kid.
- Once you have a kid, that's the end of the conversation.  The only coping mechanism easily available to you is to work really hard to convince yourself that having the kid will all be worth it some day.  Your other options are murder, adoption (which becomes a virtual non-starter again because of social pressure), and suicide.


That's why the seemingly conflicting reports.  People will say that there's 'satisfaction' in having kids, but study after study shows that (in North America) they are measurably less happy with children than without.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2017, 08:33:07 AM by GuitarStv »

sjc0816

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Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #113 on: January 05, 2017, 07:26:25 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.


If you resent your husband enough that you only cook for yourself and not both of you....I'd say you are probably not in the best mind set for parenting (that just really stood out to me). Just being honest. Parenting (and marriage, frankly) has a lot of compromise and sacrifice involved. It's never "perfect" in regards to equally split duties...and it never will be. We divide and conquer based on our time and abilities and we give each other some grace in the areas where we might be weak. My husband also needs lists to get things done. So? I'm a better cook, so I do the cooking. He cleans the bathrooms more thoroughly than I do...so he does those. I still carry most of the housework because I work at home. I don't resent him for that. He wasn't the best parent of an infant...I wasn't the best parent of a 3 year old. He's the BEST dad to our elementary age boys. Much better than me. Did I know as an infant that he would be so great with 10 year olds? No....but I gave him grace and we just worked our way through it all.

I don't live in a fantasy world about parenting. It has not been easy. I did have to quit my full-time job when my oldest was born because he had health problems his first year that required physical therapy 3x per week...and we couldn't make that happen both working 10-12 hour days. We rolled with it.

If you don't have the personality to handle the unexpected....or to bend and flex with your partner through parenting....it's not for you. Your income is great but that doesn't mean much in regards to parenting or keeping a healthy relationship with your spouse through it.

totoro

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Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #114 on: January 05, 2017, 09:57:20 AM »
Of course most people will say that the rewards are worth the costs.

- There's a huge stigma (particularly for mothers) against saying anything bad about your kid.
- Once you have a kid, that's the end of the conversation.  The only coping mechanism easily available to you is to work really hard to convince yourself that having the kid will all be worth it some day.  Your other options are murder, adoption (which becomes a virtual non-starter again because of social pressure), and suicide.

That's why the seemingly conflicting reports.  People will say that there's 'satisfaction' in having kids, but study after study shows that (in North America) they are measurably less happy with children than without.

Surveys are anonymous.  If you are not responding to multiple choice questions which bear no repercussions honestly then I guess what you are saying is that parents can't admit to themselves how they feel.  I would disagree with this as a widespread phenomena.
I'd agree there probably are some parents who dislike being parents and don't verbalize this due to social pressure. 

I think what you also have working against you in your theory of social pressure stopping a bunch of people from saying how terrible parenthood is also attachment and adjustment.  People get attached and bond with their children and this is part of a normal human response.  People also adjust.  This means that even if there are bad things about parenthood, the response might not be hatred or rejection, but adjustment of expectations and return to a level of happiness.   Changing diapers is not fun, but you get over the grossness pretty quick and carry on.

I think it also comes down to choice.  If you felt you did not want to have children and it happened anyway you might have greater regret.  If you wanted children and could not have them - ditto.  This is where adjustment comes in and good news - you will probably still end up pretty happy.

And the studies about being less happy as a parent show that you will likely be less happy than childless couples when your children are small IF you are struggling to cope because of work/money/single parenthood/lack of support.  There is definitely a financial and emotional cost to parenthood that can create stress if not supported and impact happiness.  The measure changes for those with more support and parents also tend to become happier as their kids become less dependent ie. older.  The biggest impact on happiness as a parent when looked at between countries is government policies that support parents paid employment.  Long-term parenthood is positively correlated with life satisfaction.   

If you plan to FI prior to having kids and not have work-parent pressures this will likely positively impact happiness.   My take from the data is that set up your work-life well if you want to be happier as a parent.  I went part-time and worked from home and was happier with that.  Plan for it if you can or look at whether you have other family supports or enough money to assist.

https://contemporaryfamilies.org/brief-parenting-happiness/


rubybeth

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Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #115 on: January 05, 2017, 10:13:21 AM »
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...).

Haven't read the other comments yet, but I want to really question this part of what you wrote. I don't have a child but my husband is a therapist who workes with families/kids and studied attachment theory extensively, and the damage that can be done to a child who has less than totally involved parents can be incredibly negative.

You can outsource some of the work of parenting (daycare/nanny, hire help for housework), but parenthood (really GOOD parents) are as involved as possible with their kids--spending LOTS of time with them, teaching them things, playing with them, taking them places, talking to them, singing songs, reading books, etc. Look at MMM himself as a guide--he and his wife freed up themselves to BOTH be involved as parents, encouraging their son's interests, sharing responsibilities for his care, and loving/teaching/guiding him 100% of the time. Frankly, I wish more parents did this.

If those are the things that you want to do (actually spend time with your kid), then I think you'd be okay, but your other comments about resenting your workload as a work-at-home wife don't bode well for you being happy as a parent. Being a parent (especially being a mother, unfortunately) means you are 100% on, 100% of the time, with no vacations/breaks.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2017, 10:39:02 AM by rubybeth »

sol

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Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #116 on: January 05, 2017, 10:30:03 AM »
Being a parent (especially being a mother, unfortunately) means you are 100% on, 100% of the time, with no vacations/breaks.

Well that's just false.  Maybe for a single parent with no family and no job?  With a kid who is not yet in school or daycare?

My wife and I both get lots of time off.  We sleep.  We go to work.  We cook.  One of us can read sometimes while the other one plays.

I agree that a (single) parent has to be available 100% of the time, willing to drop whatever else you are doing, but that's not the same as actually parenting 100% of the time.

With two parents, this job is easy!  My wife and I both get to disappear for a few days at a time with some regularity, leaving the other parent with 100% of the duties for a while.  I wouldn't want to live like that all the time, but for a few days or a week at a stretch it's totally fine.

Heck, my kids love it when one parent is gone for a while.  That usually means pizza for dinner at least once, and nobody asks them to clean their rooms.  The rules get significantly relaxed with only one of us around.

rubybeth

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Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #117 on: January 05, 2017, 10:43:20 AM »
Being a parent (especially being a mother, unfortunately) means you are 100% on, 100% of the time, with no vacations/breaks.

Well that's just false.  Maybe for a single parent with no family and no job?  With a kid who is not yet in school or daycare?

My wife and I both get lots of time off.  We sleep.  We go to work.  We cook.  One of us can read sometimes while the other one plays.

I agree that a (single) parent has to be available 100% of the time, willing to drop whatever else you are doing, but that's not the same as actually parenting 100% of the time.

With two parents, this job is easy!  My wife and I both get to disappear for a few days at a time with some regularity, leaving the other parent with 100% of the duties for a while.  I wouldn't want to live like that all the time, but for a few days or a week at a stretch it's totally fine.

Heck, my kids love it when one parent is gone for a while.  That usually means pizza for dinner at least once, and nobody asks them to clean their rooms.  The rules get significantly relaxed with only one of us around.

You may not be the active/in-charge (sometimes called "lead) parent 100% of the time, but you are still a parent 100% of the time. If an emergency happened and your kid had to go to the ER, you'd probably both want to be there. If their school went on lockdown because of an active shooter, you'd both want to find out WTF is happening. The concern/worry/caring for your kids is 100% of the time, even if you can tag team some of the daily work. You sound like you're probably a good father, but some fathers (and mothers) aren't so great and the mother (or sometimes father) ends up doing 90-100% of everything day-to-day. It sounded like what the OP was describing with her DH, which is why I wanted to caution her that you can't just "phone in" being a mom or dad. Loving your kids and being active in their lives is a 100% effort kind of job.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2017, 01:48:00 PM by rubybeth »

charis

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Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #118 on: January 05, 2017, 10:43:35 AM »
I agree with sol.  I'm not teaching/guiding my kids 100% of the time.  For one, my oldest is in elementary school for a large chunk of the day and the youngest is in preschool.  Occasionally we hire a babysitter or they have an overnight at the grandparents.  This morning I let my kid play on the kindle for a bit so I could pay some bills without him hanging from my neck like a monkey.  Apparently, I'm out of the "really good" parent club.

Also, vacations and breaks still exist, they are just different from the pre-child era.  If I'm being honest with myself, other than the lack of sleeping in on the weekends, taking a nap whenever I feel like it, or traveling slightly more, my today-to-day life hasn't changed dramatically.  My pre-kid life wasn't terribly exciting I guess.  And I was a responsible, risk-averse person who would also get to the ER if a family member or good friend landed there. 
« Last Edit: January 05, 2017, 10:52:01 AM by jezebel »

totoro

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Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #119 on: January 05, 2017, 10:52:17 AM »
Being a parent (especially being a mother, unfortunately) means you are 100% on, 100% of the time, with no vacations/breaks.

....
You may not be the active/in-charge (sometimes called "lead) parent 100% of the time, but you are still a parent 100% of the time.

I think what you might be saying is that you get attached and care and so you are involved in another beings life for good or bad.  It is not like a job where you are working and then you are not. Like being married in a way but more so because you are the responsible adult.  Not everyone wants that and it does impact how much free time you'll have.

The question to ask is whether you enjoy being attached and responsible for another being and will it be worth it for the benefits.  The research suggests it is for most parents, but not all.  Three or four percent do not like being parents and regret the choice according to the study.

I'd say setting up supports like childcare, house cleaning and a reduced work schedule can go a long way if you can afford to do this.  And having a compatible life partner makes it much easier. This is what I would consider.   




limeandpepper

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Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #120 on: January 05, 2017, 11:34:07 AM »
Surveys are anonymous.  If you are not responding to multiple choice questions which bear no repercussions honestly then I guess what you are saying is that parents can't admit to themselves how they feel.  I would disagree with this as a widespread phenomena.

It's not that unusual for people to lie on surveys even if they are anonymous, scientists call it the social desirability bias.

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-21601880

totoro

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Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #121 on: January 05, 2017, 12:38:55 PM »
I agree social desirability bias can be an issue in surveys.  I disagree that this is something that invalidates all surveys as:

1. This bias is reduced when a survey is anonymous. 
2. Properly designed surveys will adjust for this partly through the types of questions asked and options for response or how data is correlated and analyzed. Ie. not questioning directly on whether or not having children makes you happier but asking other types of questions about life satisfaction and then correlating the responses with the presence or absence of children and then correlating this to other social conditions.  This is the approach taken in many of the large scale surveys, including the one I linked that looks pretty well designed to me: https://contemporaryfamilies.org/brief-parenting-happiness/
3. There are measures that can be applied to adjust for dis/honesty like the Crown-Marlowe Social Desirability Scale.

rubybeth

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Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #122 on: January 05, 2017, 01:47:11 PM »
Being a parent (especially being a mother, unfortunately) means you are 100% on, 100% of the time, with no vacations/breaks.

....
You may not be the active/in-charge (sometimes called "lead) parent 100% of the time, but you are still a parent 100% of the time.

I think what you might be saying is that you get attached and care and so you are involved in another beings life for good or bad.  It is not like a job where you are working and then you are not. Like being married in a way but more so because you are the responsible adult.  Not everyone wants that and it does impact how much free time you'll have.

The question to ask is whether you enjoy being attached and responsible for another being and will it be worth it for the benefits.  The research suggests it is for most parents, but not all.  Three or four percent do not like being parents and regret the choice according to the study.

I'd say setting up supports like childcare, house cleaning and a reduced work schedule can go a long way if you can afford to do this.  And having a compatible life partner makes it much easier. This is what I would consider.

Yes, exactly. Thanks for clarifying that for me, totoro! :)

CanuckExpat

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Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #123 on: January 05, 2017, 08:16:20 PM »
If you plan to FI prior to having kids and not have work-parent pressures this will likely positively impact happiness.   My take from the data is that set up your work-life well if you want to be happier as a parent.

Based on personal experience, I'd agree with the first part, not sure about the first.

We had son in daycare from about 8 months to 20 months while wife and I worked full time. We both had cushy white collar jobs, with employers who supported good work life balances, flexible schedules, etc. There were mMaybe some annoyances here and there when he got sick, but generally with a good work life balance, things were good and I enjoyed spending time with son on the evenings and weekends.
We took him out of daycare at about 20 months when wife and I both quit our jobs. Not working is fun, but spending all day with a toddler, not so sure about..

It's hard to compare, since the ages were different (toddlers might just be terrible compared to infants), but I think I enjoyed evening and weekend parenting better thank this full time thing now that we are FIREd..

If I had realized this earlier, I would have budgeted for him to stay in daycare while were were retired, or something along those lines (thinking out loud)
« Last Edit: January 05, 2017, 08:20:31 PM by CanuckExpat »

ck25

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Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #124 on: January 05, 2017, 09:00:38 PM »
I'm in the same camp as Meowmalade where the environmental impact weighs heavily on my decision, plus the thought that the Earth might not be such a great place within our lifetimes.

Not going to lie, pregnancy also seems super uncomfortable.

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Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #125 on: January 06, 2017, 01:45:06 AM »
I agree social desirability bias can be an issue in surveys.  I disagree that this is something that invalidates all surveys as:

1. This bias is reduced when a survey is anonymous. 

If I got a survey from the Health Department asking whether I was happy that I had kids, I'd be concerned about anonymity and whether I was going to have my kids taken away if I answered less than enthusiastically. There is a difference between a survey being anonymous and the participant believing that it is anonymous.

For example if someone had answered 'I hate my child and intend to harm them' is a participant going to think there is nothing that the HD could or would do to identify the child at risk. If they could then it isn't an anonymous survey. For the avoidance of doubt; saying that you were happier before child(ren) is totally different to wishing them harm or being an unsuitable parent.

I agree that well designed questionnaires/studies are a useful data set in this discussion.

Case

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Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #126 on: January 06, 2017, 07:07:38 AM »
Of course most people will say that the rewards are worth the costs.

- There's a huge stigma (particularly for mothers) against saying anything bad about your kid.
- Once you have a kid, that's the end of the conversation.  The only coping mechanism easily available to you is to work really hard to convince yourself that having the kid will all be worth it some day.  Your other options are murder, adoption (which becomes a virtual non-starter again because of social pressure), and suicide.

That's why the seemingly conflicting reports.  People will say that there's 'satisfaction' in having kids, but study after study shows that (in North America) they are measurably less happy with children than without.

Surveys are anonymous.  If you are not responding to multiple choice questions which bear no repercussions honestly then I guess what you are saying is that parents can't admit to themselves how they feel.  I would disagree with this as a widespread phenomena.
I'd agree there probably are some parents who dislike being parents and don't verbalize this due to social pressure. 

I think what you also have working against you in your theory of social pressure stopping a bunch of people from saying how terrible parenthood is also attachment and adjustment.  People get attached and bond with their children and this is part of a normal human response.  People also adjust.  This means that even if there are bad things about parenthood, the response might not be hatred or rejection, but adjustment of expectations and return to a level of happiness.   Changing diapers is not fun, but you get over the grossness pretty quick and carry on.

I think it also comes down to choice.  If you felt you did not want to have children and it happened anyway you might have greater regret.  If you wanted children and could not have them - ditto.  This is where adjustment comes in and good news - you will probably still end up pretty happy.

And the studies about being less happy as a parent show that you will likely be less happy than childless couples when your children are small IF you are struggling to cope because of work/money/single parenthood/lack of support.  There is definitely a financial and emotional cost to parenthood that can create stress if not supported and impact happiness.  The measure changes for those with more support and parents also tend to become happier as their kids become less dependent ie. older.  The biggest impact on happiness as a parent when looked at between countries is government policies that support parents paid employment.  Long-term parenthood is positively correlated with life satisfaction.   

If you plan to FI prior to having kids and not have work-parent pressures this will likely positively impact happiness.   My take from the data is that set up your work-life well if you want to be happier as a parent.  I went part-time and worked from home and was happier with that.  Plan for it if you can or look at whether you have other family supports or enough money to assist.

https://contemporaryfamilies.org/brief-parenting-happiness/

It's not just social pressure.  It's pressure on yourself, as well as generally a good way to act for the child.  Who wants a parent who admits they would rather not have had children?  Who wants a parent who wont admit it but actually feels that way.  It's a complex situation at best.  I don't think there is going to be any easy way to poll this accurately.  I'm not sure of the ways to objectively determine quality of life, but simply asking people their opinions is probably highly prone to human error.

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Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #127 on: January 06, 2017, 08:03:29 AM »
Quote
Well, I guess 'waste of time and money' definitely depends on what you expected to get out of child-rearing, right?

Ah, there's the rub, and I think that aspect of the post is part of what bothered me the most.  Child-rearing isn't a purely self serving enterprise in my eyes.  Sure, you do get things out of it from time to time, like appreciation and love, but a lot of the time, you put more in than you get out.  It isn't a put x input = get y output scenario.  Even if my kids for whatever reason want nothing to do with me as an adult, I would never consider the years spent with them a "waste of time and money".  It's bizarre to me.  I do appreciate the posters honesty, but it definitely was depressing. 

totoro

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Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #128 on: January 06, 2017, 08:44:53 AM »
I agree social desirability bias can be an issue in surveys.  I disagree that this is something that invalidates all surveys as:

1. This bias is reduced when a survey is anonymous. 
.....
There is a difference between a survey being anonymous and the participant believing that it is anonymous.

There are no shortage of studies on this.  Anonymity reduces the impact of social desirability bias.  If you don't believe a survey is anonymous I guess it may depend on the rational basis for this belief as to how widespread this phenomena is.  Question design and data collection method does far more to address this issue.

I'd agree if you are suddenly home ft with a toddler without additional care because you have RE it could be less enjoyable than working and having a toddler.

I'm not sure of the ways to objectively determine quality of life, but simply asking people their opinions is probably highly prone to human error.
[/quote]

There is a whole field of survey design that is pretty well developed and addresses data collection and analysis techniques that control for all sorts of error and bias.  There is a widescale study on parental "happiness" linked above. 

This particular study did not ask people how they felt about being parents.  The study examined comparative data from 22 European and English-speaking countries.  They utilized two well-respected surveys (the International Social Surveys of 2007 and 2008 and the European Social Surveys of 2006 and 2008), confining themselves to data prior to the global recession in order to avoid confusing reports of happiness in a period of relative prosperity with reports taken in a period of economic stress.  The study focused on the differences between parents and non-parents in the same country, or the relative effects of parenting. 

It then correlated these differences with other factors like government support programs. They gathered this policy information for all 22 of the countries, along with their Gross Domestic Product and their fertility rate, to make sure that the findings were not simply reflecting the effects of living in a richer country versus a poorer one.

What they found was that the negative effects of parenthood on happiness were highly correlated and entirely explained by the presence or absence of social policies allowing parents to better combine paid work with family obligations. And this was true for both mothers and fathers. Countries with better family policy “packages” had no happiness gap between parents and non-parents.

Fathers’ happiness was slightly more sensitive to money policies (child care costs, specifically), and mothers’ happiness was slightly more sensitive to time policies (especially paid sick and vacation days). But these differences were minor. The most important predictor of higher relative levels of happiness for parents was the presence of family policies making it less stressful and less costly combine childrearing with paid work.

The US did not do very well on this study.  It had the largest happiness gap between parents and non-parents. In some countries like Hungary and Denmark parents have higher happiness.

My take on this is that if you are going to have a child in the US the impact on work-life balance is high without mitigating social policies and programs.  You will need to address this yourself if you'd like to mitigate the negative impact on well-being that working and caring for a child brings when you don't have enough time off or are financially stressed by high unsubsidized childcare costs.

The paper on this study is here: http://epc2014.princeton.edu/papers/140098

charis

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Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #129 on: January 06, 2017, 08:55:32 AM »
Quote
Well, I guess 'waste of time and money' definitely depends on what you expected to get out of child-rearing, right?

Ah, there's the rub, and I think that aspect of the post is part of what bothered me the most.  Child-rearing isn't a purely self serving enterprise in my eyes.  Sure, you do get things out of it from time to time, like appreciation and love, but a lot of the time, you put more in than you get out.  It isn't a put x input = get y output scenario.  Even if my kids for whatever reason want nothing to do with me as an adult, I would never consider the years spent with them a "waste of time and money".  It's bizarre to me.  I do appreciate the posters honesty, but it definitely was depressing.

I agree, but I think the waste of time and money aspect goes along with ultimately regretting having children.  If you regret having children, you may look at it as a waste of your time and money.

But I am more interested in the poster's comment that their grown children have "nothing in common" with the parent.  Are children supposed to have things in common with their parents?  Why should we expect that of them?  How is that an indicator of whether having children is worth it?  This sounds more like expectations not lining up with reality.  My sister and I don't have much in common with my mother, and I know it bothers her.  But she seems to treat it like a shortcoming of ours, as if we are at fault for not choosing to be more like her.  And that just pushes us further apart.  I will be pleasantly surprised if I have stuff in common with my grown children.

Back to the topic, for me parenting is hard and sometimes grueling, but it is almost separate from how I feel about my children.  I love them so blindly (I am not blind to their faults, but my love is, if that makes sense) and so fiercely that the question of whether it's rewarding or worth it doesn't mean the same thing as it used to.

use2betrix

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Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #130 on: January 06, 2017, 08:58:56 AM »
To me it sounds like you guys struggle with the dynamics of a relationship and "who does what" far too much to start throwing kids into the mix.

tthree

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Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #131 on: January 06, 2017, 12:45:15 PM »
this pregnancy purgatory of being off the pill but not actively trying to conceive is a drag

A bit of a sidenote, doesn't the quoted part above mean that you are simply having sex? What's the drag.. you get to have sex :)
The way I read it, the purgatory would be NOT having sex. 

IMO if you are abstaining from contraception, but not abstaining from sex you are trying. I mean they're not not trying, y'know?  This coming from someone who had sex once while off birth control and has a seven year, and then had sex twice while off birth control and has a three year old.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2017, 01:09:32 PM by tthree »

tthree

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Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #132 on: January 06, 2017, 01:07:59 PM »
If you resent your husband enough that you only cook for yourself and not both of you....I'd say you are probably not in the best mind set for parenting (that just really stood out to me). Just being honest. Parenting (and marriage, frankly) has a lot of compromise and sacrifice involved.
The not cooking for the husband because of "back end work" (grocery shopping, planning and cleaning??) really stood out to me too.  To be honest most of the parenting to date has been back end work.

I agreed with the other posters that have mentioned a lot of parenting is dealing with the hand you are dealt, and adapting according.  Truth be told, I thought DH would be a much better parent; turns out he is a really awesome fun uncle, but a really shitty co-parent.  Case in point: he just had the opportunity to be the primary parent over the holidays while I was at work.  Caveat: his "primary  parenting" still involved me grocery shopping, cooking supper, cleaning the kitchen, playing with the kids and putting the children to bed, while he watched TV and drank beer.  By day three, he asked if he could go back to work.  By the last day when I asked him how it was going, his response was, "he kept the children alive".  Because of his negative experience I thought he might appreciate the "work" I do when he is not around.  Nope.  Turns out because he didn't enjoy being at home with the kids his time equals work.  Because I enjoy being home with the kids my time does NOT equal work.  Whatever.  If he wants to be miserable so be it.

azure975

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Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #133 on: January 06, 2017, 02:07:54 PM »
But I am more interested in the poster's comment that their grown children have "nothing in common" with the parent.  Are children supposed to have things in common with their parents?  Why should we expect that of them?  How is that an indicator of whether having children is worth it?  This sounds more like expectations not lining up with reality.  My sister and I don't have much in common with my mother, and I know it bothers her.  But she seems to treat it like a shortcoming of ours, as if we are at fault for not choosing to be more like her.  And that just pushes us further apart.  I will be pleasantly surprised if I have stuff in common with my grown children.

I wonder if my dad feels this way too. I know he's disappointed that we haven't followed the path he wanted for us--ie, white picket fence, marriage and children. I am married but childfree by choice, and my brother is a free spirit who shows no intention of settling down. He feels that these lifestyles are not "normal" and I know it is a cause of heartache for him (he is an old-school Asian who does not really understand deviating from the lifescript). So another tip to add is--think how you will feel if your children make decisions that are very different from what you would hope for them.

Additionally, I feel that my calling in life is animal advocacy/rescue, and that is what I intend to do full time after I FIRE. My father feels that this is a waste and says it's embarrassing that his friends are talking about their grandchildren when all he has is grandcats. We also want to leave most of our assets to animal charities after we die, which to him is an even bigger waste. He doesn't really see the point of charity in general and says that he might as well dump his money into the ocean.

Sorry, this has turned into a mini-therapy session. I don't think he regrets having us but I think he wishes we turned out differently.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2017, 02:12:51 PM by azure975 »

pachnik

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Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #134 on: January 06, 2017, 02:15:50 PM »
But I am more interested in the poster's comment that their grown children have "nothing in common" with the parent.  Are children supposed to have things in common with their parents?  Why should we expect that of them?  How is that an indicator of whether having children is worth it?  This sounds more like expectations not lining up with reality.  My sister and I don't have much in common with my mother, and I know it bothers her.  But she seems to treat it like a shortcoming of ours, as if we are at fault for not choosing to be more like her.  And that just pushes us further apart.  I will be pleasantly surprised if I have stuff in common with my grown children.

I wonder if my dad feels this way too. I know he's disappointed that we haven't followed the path he wanted for us--ie, white picket fence, marriage and children. I am married but childfree by choice, and my brother is a free spirit who shows no intention of settling down. He feels that these lifestyles are not "normal" and I know it is a cause of heartache for him (he is an old-school Asian who does not really understand deviating from the lifescript). So another tip to add is--think how you will feel if your children make decisions that are very different from what you would hope for them.

I've wondered too if my parents feel this way about me. 

I don't have children and I don't have a career.  I have had a series of steady pink-collar jobs though and I usually really like my work.  I also belong to two 12-step programs + have a mental illness.   I can't imagine these are things parents can really use when comparing their kids to other people's kids.   :)   

This all sounds kind of awful when written out but I am happy with my life and have a successful marriage now.   I guess due to how I am, I am happier with a 'smaller' life and have a lot of gratitude for  it.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2017, 06:36:18 AM by pachnik »

Janie

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Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #135 on: January 06, 2017, 08:19:52 PM »
Of course most people will say that the rewards are worth the costs.

- There's a huge stigma (particularly for mothers) against saying anything bad about your kid.
- Once you have a kid, that's the end of the conversation.  The only coping mechanism easily available to you is to work really hard to convince yourself that having the kid will all be worth it some day.  Your other options are murder, adoption (which becomes a virtual non-starter again because of social pressure), and suicide.

That's why the seemingly conflicting reports.  People will say that there's 'satisfaction' in having kids, but study after study shows that (in North America) they are measurably less happy with children than without.

Surveys are anonymous.  If you are not responding to multiple choice questions which bear no repercussions honestly then I guess what you are saying is that parents can't admit to themselves how they feel.  I would disagree with this as a widespread phenomena.
I'd agree there probably are some parents who dislike being parents and don't verbalize this due to social pressure. 

I think what you also have working against you in your theory of social pressure stopping a bunch of people from saying how terrible parenthood is also attachment and adjustment.  People get attached and bond with their children and this is part of a normal human response.  People also adjust.  This means that even if there are bad things about parenthood, the response might not be hatred or rejection, but adjustment of expectations and return to a level of happiness.   Changing diapers is not fun, but you get over the grossness pretty quick and carry on.

I think it also comes down to choice.  If you felt you did not want to have children and it happened anyway you might have greater regret.  If you wanted children and could not have them - ditto.  This is where adjustment comes in and good news - you will probably still end up pretty happy.

And the studies about being less happy as a parent show that you will likely be less happy than childless couples when your children are small IF you are struggling to cope because of work/money/single parenthood/lack of support.  There is definitely a financial and emotional cost to parenthood that can create stress if not supported and impact happiness.  The measure changes for those with more support and parents also tend to become happier as their kids become less dependent ie. older.  The biggest impact on happiness as a parent when looked at between countries is government policies that support parents paid employment.  Long-term parenthood is positively correlated with life satisfaction.   

If you plan to FI prior to having kids and not have work-parent pressures this will likely positively impact happiness.   My take from the data is that set up your work-life well if you want to be happier as a parent.  I went part-time and worked from home and was happier with that.  Plan for it if you can or look at whether you have other family supports or enough money to assist.

https://contemporaryfamilies.org/brief-parenting-happiness/

I looked briefly at the first study you mentioned from the CDC. The interviews were conducted in person by female interviewers. Check our the methodology section on page four.

totoro

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Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #136 on: January 06, 2017, 10:41:27 PM »
I looked briefly at the first study you mentioned from the CDC. The interviews were conducted in person by female interviewers. Check our the methodology section on page four.

If you read a bit further you'll see that respondents used a computer to record responses and, "Some of the more sensitive questions were asked using Audio Computer-Assisted Self-Interviewing, or ACASI. The ACASI mode of interviewing is a more private mode of data collection because it allows the respondent to hear the questions and response choices over headphones or read them on the screen and enter a response into the computer without the interviewer, or anyone else, knowing what the response was."

I'd agree the correlation of other data like in the other study I quoted in detail seems a better method.  Do you have alternate reliable stats for that study's finding that the vast majority of parents find that the benefits outweigh the costs?  There sure are a lot of studies on this!  http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs13524-014-0321-x

My view is that this is likely true, just as it is likely true that the vast majority of those who choose not to have children will end up happy with this choice.

FINate

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Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #137 on: January 06, 2017, 10:46:39 PM »
DW and I got married young and waited 9 years before having kids. We loved being DINKs and made the most of it, saving for FIRE and doing a fair bit of travel and other experiences. That said, we always knew we wanted kids and were ready for them when we finally had them.

Kids change everything, are a lot of work and can be extremely frustrating at times, but also hugely rewarding. It's difficult to describe the joy they bring to our lives as they grow and their little personalities emerge  - there's no one big thing to put my finger on - it's a bunch of sweet little snapshots in time: that funny or insightful thing they said, the faces they make, the questions they ask, wanting me to "get them", watching their faces light up when I share stories of my childhood, sharing what for them is a new experience, dancing together in the living room, the picture they drew for/of me, or the time they got the giggles which gave me the giggles which made them giggle more and then we were all rolling on the floor laughing... With kids I think the reward is in appreciating the many beautiful small things and the wonder of experiencing life through the freshness of a child's eyes. But it's also a huge amount of work and personal sacrifice, financially and timewise - IMO you have to go into it with that mindset otherwise it's difficult to enjoy those little things.

I think it's also important to point out that some people are "baby people" whereas others aren't. This has little bearing on whether or not to have kids - the baby phase is gruelling but passes quickly. DW and I are NOT baby people. Don't get me wrong, we loved our babies and cherished them, and I have many fond memories of cuddling them and filed away memories that I still love (such as staring into the eyes of my 3 month old at 3am one night). But we actually enjoy being parents more now that they are a little older and we look forward to guiding and teaching them as they grow into adolescence and young adulthood, knowing full well that each phase brings unique challenges.  So my recommendation here is to take this into account when listening to parents talk about their experience - is it a story from a parent just needing to vent about the impossibilities of caring full time for a fussy infant while getting little to no sleep? Or is this a parent with an unusually easy baby that eats well and sleeps through the night (these are rare, but they do exist) and the parent is enthralled at how much fun and easy it is to just have a sleeping baby to cuddle all the time? IMO, the baby phase passes so quickly that you really need to think about all phases into adulthood in making this decision - how are you going to discipline, how will the shuttling kids to/from school/playdates, will you pay for college and how, etc.

(For the record: we are both FIRE and split the household stuff about equally, though we each have different specialities. I do dishes and yard work and home repairs, she does laundry and most of the cooking. We split everything else pretty evenly.)

If you do decide to have kids then I'll also like to suggest that parenting blogs, for the most part, are pure evil that will rob you of your joy. Stay away, far away! At the core most are really about 'style' and style is primarily about making people feel inadequate so that they'll buy shit they don't need.

MrsCoolCat

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Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #138 on: January 07, 2017, 02:14:53 AM »
I wish you and ur husband the best bc it's not as simple as yes, or no plus ppl can change their mind though that doesn't mean that both of u will, either for better or for worse.

I am 36 wks & 4 days pregnant. I am currently on the other thread with a shit situation where I don't qualify for FMLA & my employer is being unreasonably inflexible by offering me a nearly impossible two weeks of vacation, separation & rehire within 30 days, giving me a lovely maybe 6 wks of uncertain maternity leave. Ironically, I already discussed with my husband & ha, well, if I wasn't a woman, pregnant, waited, etc. this shit wouldn't even be an issue or stress. We'll be ok though.

He wanted kids more than I did esp with the stigma that I'd be the one pregnant with all its miserable symptoms & my other main issue was also the chores, & we make a lot less combined income than you. Under & less than 1/2 of urs. I did a lovely post about the gender divide & chores lol. It's quite popular though controversal bc of my bitter wording at the time.

Anyways, I am 32 going on 33 this year. I enjoyed my travels and lived my life well without kids, but I was never against kids. So many of my childless gfs complained about the same issue with chores. Can u friggin imagine adding a damn child?! While the other 40 yr old moms pretty much verified kinda "hating" their teenagers but loved them when they were little & less stressful. Lol, I know it's not exactly a short walk in the park seeing that I'm gonna birth a human with her own free will to say no & disagree with me, etc.

Ultimately I chose to have a kid bc I one day concluded that despite my "selfish" ways that I was ready to try & love someone else other than & more than myself. I was also never really against kids and I turned an unknowing blind eye to the chore issue that I know I will still have. I just didn't want to wait & try to figure everything out as time slipped away. Some things u can't take back.

Though at this point I may not have any other option besides SAHM for a bit bc of my work situation. My SO is handling it well. And I always concluded that the few ppl that I interacted with that didn't have kids they seemed to caregive in other ways to other ppl. I just didn't want to regret it by waiting. I figured it was either now or literally never bc I have a personal view of not wanting to be a 40 yr old mom to a newborn. I just don't wanna be. So instead of possibly regretting not having kid(s) or waiting until I was too old yet had the chore thing figured out (& outsourced) I said yes, to kid(s).

It took us almost 10 months on & off to get pregnant. At some point I was almost like well, I wasn't sure about kids but now mother nature is taking the option away from me completely? And my pregnancy has been miraculously easy. Minimal morning sickness, no nausea, no swelling. How about what I do have is occasional back pain, occasional leg cramps, the constant use of the bathroom & having to propel myself to get up along with 29 lbs of weight gain. Oh & it's getting cramped in my belly so everytime my daughter moves it's uncomfortable & annoying to say the least.

But I could go on about all the excitement, gender reveals, parties, how much stuff (adorable clothes) I got for her for Xmas & none for me (lol it's fine), feeling actually quite loved that even my single childless gfs gave my daughter stuff. Her first ultrasound, first kicks, seeing her cute chubby cheeks in 3-D, etc. I don't know what to expect & it hasn't been entirely easy, but I still wouldn't change my choice.

Everyone is so different & well, I haven't birthed her yet, but I personally enjoy it overall despite the bad times/stress. Good luck as no one can tell u yes or no, or predict ur happiness on the matter. You won't even know.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2017, 12:59:16 PM by MrsCoolCat »

LadyStache in Baja

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Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #139 on: January 07, 2017, 08:54:12 AM »
If you resent your husband enough that you only cook for yourself and not both of you....I'd say you are probably not in the best mind set for parenting (that just really stood out to me). Just being honest. Parenting (and marriage, frankly) has a lot of compromise and sacrifice involved.
The not cooking for the husband because of "back end work" (grocery shopping, planning and cleaning??) really stood out to me too.  To be honest most of the parenting to date has been back end work.



Um yes.  I can't believe only two posters have mentioned this.  This is totally crazy to me.

I mean, also, you said your husband makes 2/3 of the income, and you 1/3 (if i remember correctly).  So unless you have separate bank accounts, you're getting all this free money you wouldn't otherwise have, and yet you can't possibly just throw double the amount of food in the pan?  It's almost zero extra work to make double-dinner vs single-dinner.  This just blows my mind.  You're a team.

So let me tell you right now, having a kid is going to bring approximately 1000 more issues just like this one to the table.  If you want a happy marriage, there's going to be give and take, and you can not just open a spreadsheet and tally up who's doing what and who owes who what, and "no, I changed the diaper this morning, so you have to prepare the bottle" (because lord i hope you don't plan on breastfeeding with this attitude).

On the other hand, I was a bit like you, where if I was washing the dishes, I wanted my husband to sweep the floor.  Tit for tat.  If I'm working, you should work too, and then we can relax together.

And having kids changed that for me, slowly but surely.  They gave me the lesson I needed to learn.  Now, I just do what needs to be done.  And so does he.  And I don't try to balance the equation, to make sure that what I do is equal in value to what he does, because you have to look at people with grace.  All the people in your life: kids, husband, whatever, you need to assume they're doing the best they can, and you need to accept them as they are.  Yes, look for solutions, yes, state your needs, but always with grace.

So yes, maybe you should have a kid, so you can learn to be graceful.

iris lily

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Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #140 on: January 07, 2017, 10:54:58 AM »
I've been thinking about OP's dilemma and thought I'd share my story...maybe helpful? I absolutely, positively did not want or plan to have children. Period. No ambivalence. Three years into a five year marriage I got pregnant while on the pill. I couldn't face abortion so I had a daughter and shortly thereafter, a divorce. I had a tubal ligation before she was a year old so as to never make that "mistake" again.

Now I shudder to think what my life would have been without her or the two granddaughters she gave me. Truly, it strikes a cold fear in my heart to know what I could have missed. I remarried and never regretted not having more children and I firmly believe we don't all have the interest, disposition or spousal support to have children and we should NOT feel a moment of guilt about it.  Somehow I rose to the occasion though and managed to be a reasonably good mom despite my lack of initial interest.

I am not sure what the message is in this story except that you really can't know how you are going to feel before you get there.  I am sure I would have had a lovely life without a child but I know that I had a better one because I did. Not everyone has the same experience but it worked out for me.  I wish OP the best of luck as this is such a momentous decision.

Oh, I think some of us CAN REALLY KNOW how we are gong to feel before we get there.

charis

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Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #141 on: January 07, 2017, 02:06:49 PM »
I've been thinking about OP's dilemma and thought I'd share my story...maybe helpful? I absolutely, positively did not want or plan to have children. Period. No ambivalence. Three years into a five year marriage I got pregnant while on the pill. I couldn't face abortion so I had a daughter and shortly thereafter, a divorce. I had a tubal ligation before she was a year old so as to never make that "mistake" again.

Now I shudder to think what my life would have been without her or the two granddaughters she gave me. Truly, it strikes a cold fear in my heart to know what I could have missed. I remarried and never regretted not having more children and I firmly believe we don't all have the interest, disposition or spousal support to have children and we should NOT feel a moment of guilt about it.  Somehow I rose to the occasion though and managed to be a reasonably good mom despite my lack of initial interest.

I am not sure what the message is in this story except that you really can't know how you are going to feel before you get there.  I am sure I would have had a lovely life without a child but I know that I had a better one because I did. Not everyone has the same experience but it worked out for me.  I wish OP the best of luck as this is such a momentous decision.

Oh, I think some of us CAN REALLY KNOW how we are gong to feel before we get there.

You can certainly know how you feel now, before getting there.  But no one can really know how he/she will feel after the fact, which is true for having a child, having a second, etc.  One truly cannot know whether they will regret having or not having a child.

totoro

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Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #142 on: January 07, 2017, 02:24:14 PM »
You can certainly know how you feel now, before getting there.  But no one can really know how he/she will feel after the fact, which is true for having a child, having a second, etc.  One truly cannot know whether they will regret having or not having a child.

No, but you can look at the research and evaluate your personality and current wishes and hopes for the future - just like any big decision. 

As far as regret goes, regret can generally be overcome and older people are better at this than younger.  Maybe because they see that moving on is the way to go when you can't change something more easily.

And what is one of the things older people regret?  Spending a lot of time pointlessly worrying about things.

The research shows people regret missed opportunity the most, not the choices made.  Why is this?  It seems because humans rationalize and reframe choices and look for the good/silver lining.

rubybeth

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Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #143 on: January 07, 2017, 04:02:44 PM »
If you resent your husband enough that you only cook for yourself and not both of you....I'd say you are probably not in the best mind set for parenting (that just really stood out to me). Just being honest. Parenting (and marriage, frankly) has a lot of compromise and sacrifice involved.
The not cooking for the husband because of "back end work" (grocery shopping, planning and cleaning??) really stood out to me too.  To be honest most of the parenting to date has been back end work.



Um yes.  I can't believe only two posters have mentioned this.  This is totally crazy to me.

I mean, also, you said your husband makes 2/3 of the income, and you 1/3 (if i remember correctly).  So unless you have separate bank accounts, you're getting all this free money you wouldn't otherwise have, and yet you can't possibly just throw double the amount of food in the pan?  It's almost zero extra work to make double-dinner vs single-dinner.  This just blows my mind.  You're a team.

So let me tell you right now, having a kid is going to bring approximately 1000 more issues just like this one to the table.  If you want a happy marriage, there's going to be give and take, and you can not just open a spreadsheet and tally up who's doing what and who owes who what, and "no, I changed the diaper this morning, so you have to prepare the bottle" (because lord i hope you don't plan on breastfeeding with this attitude).

On the other hand, I was a bit like you, where if I was washing the dishes, I wanted my husband to sweep the floor.  Tit for tat.  If I'm working, you should work too, and then we can relax together.

And having kids changed that for me, slowly but surely.  They gave me the lesson I needed to learn.  Now, I just do what needs to be done.  And so does he.  And I don't try to balance the equation, to make sure that what I do is equal in value to what he does, because you have to look at people with grace.  All the people in your life: kids, husband, whatever, you need to assume they're doing the best they can, and you need to accept them as they are.  Yes, look for solutions, yes, state your needs, but always with grace.

So yes, maybe you should have a kid, so you can learn to be graceful.

I also noticed this but felt it was kind of obvious--you can't "keep score" as a parent, and you could practice by not keeping score now and just cooking/cleaning for both of you. Keeping score is very detrimental to positive feelings in a relationship. I really wonder how much of the conflict in this marriage is manufactured--like, how much of it really matters, if you can just let go of some of this. Make some to-do lists for him, but stop trying to parent your spouse in this way--housework ultimately doesn't matter that much, you can live in a dusty house and not die. You need something clean to wear to work and something to eat, but other than that, a messy house isn't a big deal. Houses with kids in them get even messier. ;)

I know I sometimes get frustrated that my husband doesn't do much in the way of housework without being asked, and I out-earn him pretty significantly. But my job is more flexible, and I can set my own hours and flex time much more easily than he can, so I'm home in time to relax for a while and then cook dinner each day--which he greatly appreciates. His job is also approximately 1000% more stressful than mine (me? I sit in a quiet office in front of my computer 5 days a week, him? he works with kids with serious mental health/family issues and is often "on call" for crisis situations). Quite frankly, even if he earned more than I did, I would still pretty happily shoulder the housework/cooking because it just makes more sense and I'm better at it. :D I have a LOT of patience when he's stressed out/crabby/isn't sleeping well, because I love him and think his work is pretty darn important.

mrssavesalot

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Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #144 on: January 09, 2017, 11:33:44 AM »
I would strongly recommend against having children.

Outsourcing motherhood would only make your kids feel rejected while you pursue your career. Your husband may want kids, but if you don't really want them (and the work and financial issues they bring), then you as a couple are not ready for kids.

The reality is that most of the time, the mom ends up doing most of the work raising her kids. Part of this is simple biology- mom's have the breasts, and the hips for carrying them. Also, women tend to be able to handle the actual crying and screaming a lot better than men can- there were studies on this.

Are you prepared to foot the bill for motherhood- this includes birth, enrichment activities, clothes, school trips. prom, college education (perhaps all the way up to master's degree and PhD?), AND the reality that after college, they may STILL have to move back in with you while they build their careers?

I don't know if you've been keeping up on the news, but the millinials (recent college grads), are finding it harder than ever to break into their fields and stabilize their careers after graduation.

If you're not prepared for this reality (that they might not be successful right away as "grown-ups"), then parenting is going to be a hard thing for you.

mm1970

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Re: on the fence re: kids
« Reply #145 on: January 09, 2017, 02:43:52 PM »
I would strongly recommend against having children.

Outsourcing motherhood would only make your kids feel rejected while you pursue your career. Your husband may want kids, but if you don't really want them (and the work and financial issues they bring), then you as a couple are not ready for kids.

The reality is that most of the time, the mom ends up doing most of the work raising her kids. Part of this is simple biology- mom's have the breasts, and the hips for carrying them. Also, women tend to be able to handle the actual crying and screaming a lot better than men can- there were studies on this.

Are you prepared to foot the bill for motherhood- this includes birth, enrichment activities, clothes, school trips. prom, college education (perhaps all the way up to master's degree and PhD?), AND the reality that after college, they may STILL have to move back in with you while they build their careers?

I don't know if you've been keeping up on the news, but the millinials (recent college grads), are finding it harder than ever to break into their fields and stabilize their careers after graduation.

If you're not prepared for this reality (that they might not be successful right away as "grown-ups"), then parenting is going to be a hard thing for you.

But come on, that's not much time, really.  Yeah, I did the breastfeeding, but my kids are 4 and 10 now.  Breastfeeding lasted a year (x2), my husband does half now and has since.

(That said, you don't want kids, don't have them!  To second iris lily - yeah, you may not REALLY know how you will feel after you have kids, but in my opinion it's MUCH less risky to NOT have kids.  It would be WAY worse to have them and realize later "nope, this was a bad idea!")