Author Topic: reconsidering having a child  (Read 19239 times)

spokey doke

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #100 on: November 28, 2017, 08:56:01 AM »
One of the main reasons I didn't want children was not just that it was a huge responsibility, but that I take such responsibilities SO seriously and am SO self critical about how well I do in meeting my responsibilities, that I would be a wreck (and likely overly critical of my DW, and also of my children).  Friends have often suggested that we would be great parents because we are such responsible people, but even the thought of it just freaks me out, makes me anxious, and I want to run away screaming.  I find keeping my own shit together is more than enough of a challenge and responsibility for a lifetime.

And so while most people do it, and many do it with great joy and ease, and simply deal with the exhaustion that can be a part of it, that doesn't mean that it is a good idea for me.  And yes, I am being selfish in a way, thinking about my psychological well being and my quality of life...but not so much in terms of...will I still have enough time to pursue my hobbies and maintain my social life?...or will I have enough money to retire by X age...but rather, how will I respond to the situation and will that be a good thing for me and for everyone else involved?

My answer is certainly conditioned by my own psychology and my life experience (just like everyone else), and I have directly experienced the fact that you can "do everything right" as a parent and have prolonged, heart-wrenching anguish at the results. So while there are plenty of responses to my points that others can make, justifying going either way, those will always be their responses to a question we can only answer for ourselves

Case

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #101 on: November 28, 2017, 10:59:35 AM »
This is a great thread filled with mostly great advice. I was 35, in a stable relationship, financially stable, etc. and I was FLOORED by what it took out of my life to have a baby.

I actually think it may be harder when you're older. You're more set in your ways, have a plan for your life, and the loss of your Saturday morning paper-and-a-coffee habit can feel devastating. I suspect anyone saying it was no big deal was quite young when they had kids and it was quite a long time ago (you definitely forget the worst parts).

I was the same age, and in the exact same position as you, when I had my first kid.
None of the changes I've experienced from having kids has felt "devastating."
This strikes me as extremely trivial and dramatic.

Exactly. The drama in this thread has gotten a bit over the top sometimes.

A lot of responses on this thread lean towards that idea of you should just know whether or not you want to have kids, and if there is uncertainty in your mind than it probably means you aren't the right person to have kids.  I disagree, but am also trying to be open-minded to the possibility that there might be some truth to it.

No one doubts that raising a child is hard, and that it may or may not work out so you have to be prepared for anything.  But I wonder if some responders are (purposely or not) trying to justify their own choices, or make child-rearing appear harder (requiring more sacrifice) than it is in order to make themselves feel tougher.  It is human nature to think "I had it so hard"; it makes you feel good about yourself, accomplished.  On the other hand, this information can give some gauge on how much freedom I'd be losing.

Having children is a bizarre dichotomy of selfishness.  It is a supremely selfish choice; you bring unnecessary burden to the planet/etc, and all in the interest of giving yourself the experience of having a child (and all that that entails).  But at the same time, it involves subsequently prioritizing the child to a high degree, which is quite selfless.

I bring up selfishness, as it has been at the core of this thread.  Some people have pointed out that wanting to having children, in order to teach them lessons and pass on things, is selfish because i'm doing it for myself.  And it might not work out (they may not share my interests; or they might be screw ups; etc..).  But really, why have children then?  If I just wanted to interact with babies/toddlers/young people, then I could volunteer/etc...  I think experiencing the raising and shaping of a child is maybe the most sensible reason to have a child.

If you don't want to gain something for yourself, no one would have children.  I think the reasons I listed previously for having children are totally legit, and yes I get that they might not work out.  But I would raise my child in such a way to optimize my chances. 

As humans, we have the ability to learn from past experiences, other's experiences, and use the application of logic to choose an optimal path.  The hypothesis here is that optimization of life will allow a parent to somewhat minimize the sacrifices of parenthood.  A core component to the equation is early retirement, as well as learning to live time efficiently (for example, paying a maid to clean, or getting robotic cleaners).  Additional ideas are that conventional (MMM forum as well) ideas on the best ways to raise a child may be inefficient and unnecessary; I think it is legitimate to question how much a child needs to be made the center of the universe (and may result in some not so nice traits in the child).  No doubt, a large sacrifice must occur, but the personal question I am deliberating on is whether I can save enough time/energy/etc... to have enough freedom to remain satisfied while having a child.  This is where various data from different MMM forum posters can be quite useful (especially those raising a child while retired).  Anyways, these are thoughts i am considering.

spokey doke

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #102 on: November 29, 2017, 09:08:33 AM »

Having children is a bizarre dichotomy of selfishness.  It is a supremely selfish choice; you bring unnecessary burden to the planet/etc, and all in the interest of giving yourself the experience of having a child (and all that that entails).  But at the same time, it involves subsequently prioritizing the child to a high degree, which is quite selfless.

I bring up selfishness, as it has been at the core of this thread.  Some people have pointed out that wanting to having children, in order to teach them lessons and pass on things, is selfish because i'm doing it for myself.  And it might not work out (they may not share my interests; or they might be screw ups; etc..).  But really, why have children then?  If I just wanted to interact with babies/toddlers/young people, then I could volunteer/etc...  I think experiencing the raising and shaping of a child is maybe the most sensible reason to have a child.


I think you have about as good a grasp as one can on this (blowing up a lot of the overly simplistic cliches that often get bandied about)...

jkitiara

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #103 on: November 29, 2017, 11:42:52 AM »
This is a great thread filled with mostly great advice. I was 35, in a stable relationship, financially stable, etc. and I was FLOORED by what it took out of my life to have a baby.

I actually think it may be harder when you're older. You're more set in your ways, have a plan for your life, and the loss of your Saturday morning paper-and-a-coffee habit can feel devastating. I suspect anyone saying it was no big deal was quite young when they had kids and it was quite a long time ago (you definitely forget the worst parts).

I was the same age, and in the exact same position as you, when I had my first kid.
None of the changes I've experienced from having kids has felt "devastating."
This strikes me as extremely trivial and dramatic.

We are talking about creating and caring for a human being here. I don't believe any of this is too dramatic. For the first year after my son was born, most of the time I was certain I'd made a terrible mistake. My marriage nearly didn't make it. I am positive I am not the first person to feel this way. Perhaps my coffee example was trivial but those feelings certainly were not. Maybe some people adjust just fine at any age or situation, and maybe some of us don't. I guess the entire takeaway is to know yourself.

My son is only 1.5 yrs now, so I'm still very close to that terrible first year. I am also a SAHM, so I think it gets amplified when you're suddenly home, cut off from the world, unable to shower, and since the original poster did not ask about any of that side of it, I won't go on any more. We appear to be out of the woods and I don't regret it.

Watchmaker

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #104 on: November 29, 2017, 03:17:37 PM »
Did people post about having regrets?  I don't remember seeing those.

I can't speak from personal experience as I don't have kids, but I have had one close friend confide they wish they had never had kids, and that they wish they could go back and make a different decision.  I've know many couples whose marriages broke up after having children (correlation, not causation).  Saddest of all, the mother of my childhood neighbors killed her youngest son and injured her other son. She obviously had mental health issues (and was found not guilty by reason of insanity) but in interviews she described being overwhelmed by caring for her children.  This is an extreme outlier,  but given that you are making a decision which affects multiple lives, I don't think the situation can be taken too seriously. 

As humans, we have the ability to learn from past experiences, other's experiences, and use the application of logic to choose an optimal path.

Exactly.  And that's why I don't have kids.  I looked around at the lives of my friends with kids and knew that wasn't the life I wanted.  Luckily, I could determine that through observation, not just through my own experience. 

That's not to say *you* shouldn't have kids. It might be the exact right choice for you.  Just don't over weigh the testimonials of those with kids telling you to have kids--realize they are a self selected group who wanted kids and who have had a overall positive experience. 
 


Greenblatt

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #105 on: December 27, 2017, 03:02:47 PM »
I would spend time trying to figure out why your wife has had a change of heart and now wants a child.

Might just be age. Happened to a lot of women I know between the ages of 35-40.

Northern gal

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #106 on: December 27, 2017, 03:21:57 PM »
Iíd ask yourself: whatís motivating you to have kids? Do you or your wife feel like something is missing? Do you feel youíre not adult enough? Do you feel left out of the conversations with friends?

Kids are a commitment and too many people have kids who frankly shouldnít and that comes out at some point. Yes, lots of people make do, itís not easy. Itís ok to not want them.  If you do, your current plans will change, they have to. That doesnít mean it will get worse, just not the same.

My only strong recommendation is for you and your wife to go get tested, make sure everything is working, and freeze some eggs and sperm. That way, if you decide to FIRE and then change your mind and want kids, youíll have more options if youíre a bit olderóage matters for conceiving, not parenting.

The motivation is the possibility of a very fulfilling/satisfying experience of getting to know/shape/teach someone, etc...  I'm not really one of those persons who sees a baby and gets all giddy.  I don't really have a deep yearning to care for infant.  It's more about forming a long term bond and getting to teach all the life lessons as I see them, watching someone grow from zero, etc...  I don't feel that something is missing in my life, per se... I'm not trying to fill a void with a child.  I don't feel left out of conversations with my friends, even though a lot of my good friends have kids.  Rather, I'm more trying to fill a void with all of the stuff I want to do when I FIRE.  Because of the career path I chose, which involved going to grad school, and now living in a very boring midwestern town, there are lots of things I'd like to go do and places I'd like to see.  This is more the motivation not to have kids, though I wonder if there are hybrid scenarios where I can have the best of both worlds.

We are early/mid 30s now, so timing is becoming a factor.

There are so many other ways to pass on your teaching and wisdom without having kids. Volunteer for an organization like Big Brother/Sister, foster kids, coach a sport.  You could travel to places and work with disadvantaged kids. You can definitely have the best of both worlds without having a child. The one thing you donít want is to have a child and then feel resentful.

+1. Do that first.

Also if the biological clock is an issue I +1 the suggestion to look into ivf to postpone kids until FIRE. Note though freezing eggs is still very risky, unfortunately currently it is still safer to freeze embryos (which comes with its own ethical challenges especially if you are on the fence).

My personal experience: struggled with infertility since my teens (following illness) so expected to remain childless. Respite fostered to scratch the itch and got over it. Met a guy who wanted kids. Agreed to try ivf. Love having children but it has completely changed my life and I'm so glad I *lived* (travelled / moved to the beach / learned new skills) beforehand and now don't have to balance a corporate job with parenthood.
« Last Edit: December 27, 2017, 03:27:28 PM by Northern gal »

affordablehousing

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #107 on: December 29, 2017, 12:01:18 PM »
I think selfishness/selflessness is at the core as well. In this privileged air as well, where there is a lot of control over fertility, (IVF, adoption, abortion, birth control) you are deciding in having a kid that you in particular want a bigger share of the planet for your spawn. In contrast, by not having a kid, you are shortening your lease on the world by not extending your claims by a generation, but likely will use a larger share during your own lifetime (hence wanting to do more, make more, have less responsibility). Another way to think about it is you could also buy another's time to care for your child, to give you more time. If this agrees with your model of childcare, you can through a nanny, subsidized relative, etc. exert more control over your own schedule.

One datapoint I heard about is a friend's husband who is an artist. He was very concerned about giving up time to have to deal with a kid when his wife got pregnant. I saw him at a party about a year later and he said he was over it and liked being a dad. This was another person supremely concerned with the selfishness/selfless dichotomy. I suspect he had a lot of his anxiety over being a parent manifest as his building desire to devote even more time to work.

I think there are some broad philosophies one can probe on a message board, and then there's your own question and situation, best addressed by a good psychotherapist through some concentrated work. Get an MD or at least a PhD. They'll be a lot cheaper than a bad decision here.

erutio

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #108 on: December 31, 2017, 05:56:03 AM »
Having a child changes your life in a similar way to getting married. You go to the store, hand in your old life, and get a completely new life in return. Your new life will have both wonders to behold and struggles to overcome. You will hardly see some of your old friends. You will become closer to some new ones. It is not necessarily better or worse.

If you decide you want kids, have them by age 35 if you can. The early stages of parenting are physically tiring. After a few years, it becomes more of a mental, psychological exercise. I waited until almost age 40, and those early years are a blur.

Small nitpick, but having a child is NOTHING like getting married. For many people, the day before you're married and the day afterwards  can be literally the exact same.  Having a baby is a life frameshift.

Teachstache

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #109 on: December 31, 2017, 07:29:54 AM »
Spouse and I waited until 33 & 34 to have a kid (we were 32 & 34 when we got pregnant). We began our marriage under the presumption that we wouldn't have children, by choice. Once I hit 30, I began really wanting a child, just because I felt like something was missing from my life. Spouse and I decided that the time was right to try for a kid. We did consider how we'd handle a child with severe medical or cognitive needs. Decided to go ahead and try anyway, understanding that "we got what we got," and there's no use planning on things going according to plan. 5 years after that choice, we have an almost 3 year old son with autism. He's a wonderful child and I wouldn't change a thing about him.

The hardest things about parenting at our house are the lack of free time, given that spouse and I both need a lot of "me" time. Son is a handful of energy and needs constant attention and stimulation.

We haven't had a lot of time for each other, and we've argued over who does more childcare, house chores, etc. Sometimes, we both think that we're failing as parents, especially when it seems that everyone else has this parenting thing down, and we're still struggling to get our kid to hold a spoon. However, it has deepened my love for my spouse, as he had been an incredibly affectionate and involved father, more than I ever thought he would be.

Parenting is hard. Especially if your kid has special needs. It'll make you question your sense of who you are. It'll be the highest of highs (the first time your kid smiles at you) and the lowest of lows (wondering how the hell everyone else is doing parenting so much better than you & realizing that you don't know how to do it any better than what you are).

If you and your wife feel like your life will be incomplete without a child, I'd say that's an important question to ask yourselves. How would you handle having a special needs child, both individually and as a couple? How committed are you to handling really long term, really hard tasks together?

Those things don't cost money, they cost time, as well as mental and emotional fortitude. Those are, in my mind, the most important costs to weigh.

froggie

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #110 on: December 31, 2017, 07:45:53 AM »
After reading through most of the replies, I think there is one area that was totally overlooked. Allow me to chime in with a few more questions that might be helpful in your "evaluation" of whether or not having children is the right path for you and your partner.

If you aren't a baby person, how will that affect the family balance in the first few years of your hypothetical baby? Is there a chance a lot of the hands-on care of the baby, from feeding to bathing, to soothing, to carrying etc. may land on your partner, and create a strain on your relationship? Picture the sleep deprived mom recovering from childbirth (the recovery for me was a LOT more difficult than the actual birth!), bonding with the baby but feeling exhausted, tapped out, drained and very hormonal... There is an outside chance that your relationship can suffer if one of you starts to feel resentment for "carrying the entire load".

We all learn from our mistakes, I may have married a wonderful man who just turned out to be a very hands off father and that really changed a lot of things for our couple and our definition of what a family looks like. When your spouse takes zero vacation, travels a lot for work during the week, and wants to sleep in on the weekend,... it takes a lot of open communication from both partners to overcome those bitter feelings.

Having family nearby would be a huge plus. I didn't have that chance, but I've also heard stories where parents (that is, the grandparents of the hypothetical baby) totally overwhelm the new family and throw it off balance. Their intentions are good, but in the end they can add stress by wanting to be involved beyond your comfort level.

So I'd ask myself: do we want the same thing from a family? Are we on the same page when it comes to the responsibilities associated with raising a child? Does "not being a baby person" mean that I'm off the hook for the first three years of my child's life? How will that child affect the greater family dynamic - your family and your partner's?

Other than that, despite being a divorced single mom, I am in the no-regret, most-fulfilling life experience camp; and definitely NOT putting the child first in everything you do. Perhaps that's the French in me talking ;) Your hypothetical child will thank you later.

Best wishes!

Case

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #111 on: December 31, 2017, 12:34:09 PM »
After reading through most of the replies, I think there is one area that was totally overlooked. Allow me to chime in with a few more questions that might be helpful in your "evaluation" of whether or not having children is the right path for you and your partner.

If you aren't a baby person, how will that affect the family balance in the first few years of your hypothetical baby? Is there a chance a lot of the hands-on care of the baby, from feeding to bathing, to soothing, to carrying etc. may land on your partner, and create a strain on your relationship? Picture the sleep deprived mom recovering from childbirth (the recovery for me was a LOT more difficult than the actual birth!), bonding with the baby but feeling exhausted, tapped out, drained and very hormonal... There is an outside chance that your relationship can suffer if one of you starts to feel resentment for "carrying the entire load".

We all learn from our mistakes, I may have married a wonderful man who just turned out to be a very hands off father and that really changed a lot of things for our couple and our definition of what a family looks like. When your spouse takes zero vacation, travels a lot for work during the week, and wants to sleep in on the weekend,... it takes a lot of open communication from both partners to overcome those bitter feelings.

Having family nearby would be a huge plus. I didn't have that chance, but I've also heard stories where parents (that is, the grandparents of the hypothetical baby) totally overwhelm the new family and throw it off balance. Their intentions are good, but in the end they can add stress by wanting to be involved beyond your comfort level.

So I'd ask myself: do we want the same thing from a family? Are we on the same page when it comes to the responsibilities associated with raising a child? Does "not being a baby person" mean that I'm off the hook for the first three years of my child's life? How will that child affect the greater family dynamic - your family and your partner's?

Other than that, despite being a divorced single mom, I am in the no-regret, most-fulfilling life experience camp; and definitely NOT putting the child first in everything you do. Perhaps that's the French in me talking ;) Your hypothetical child will thank you later.

Best wishes



In regards to being a baby person, i think im just not a baby person for babies in general but i think this will not impact my own child rearing.  Im pretty confident i would do my best split the tasks with my wife.  I also think despite not being a baby person (neither is my wife) we would totally adore our child.

In regards to the spouse issues, it sounds like your ex-husband was a POS if he wouldnt help out at all or even take vacation for the family.  Me are most certainly not in any sort of situation like that.

In regards to not putting the baby f8rst in every decision, i agree.  This is where i have disagreed with most of the people on this thread.  A child will come first on critical issues, but i am a firm believer in the importance of having things in my life that are independent of the family.  A key part of this is ability to FIRE.  Given that people who work 40+ hour jobs are still able to be good parents, i think the notion that having a child is a total loss of freedom is bogus.  That said, it is definitely way different than having no children.

Something i ponder about is the affect of the mentioned parenting style (given complete and near singular focus on the child, or even approximating that) on how the child develops.  One might hypothesize its not entirely positive.

Im not necessarily advociating one extreme versus the other.  Rather, im proposing that for some people, there are optimal paths that deviate from what society views as acceptible. 

froggie

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #112 on: December 31, 2017, 02:51:50 PM »
Something i ponder about is the affect of the mentioned parenting style (given complete and near singular focus on the child, or even approximating that) on how the child develops.  One might hypothesize its not entirely positive.


You aren't going to like this Case, but the best remedy might be to have SEVERAL kids then - chances are they would all learn to be more resilient and not expect you give them all your undivided attention ;)

OK just kidding, I've got just one kid (8) and so far he isn't a brat.
On another subject, I think it will help that he won't be getting a cell phone until he can pay for it and its monthly bill :) But many children don't even know there is a monthly fee beside the device they've grown so fond of. I am teaching him all that, and more. Hopefully soon he'll understand better why frugality is so important. For now he thinks I am cheap!!

As for the ex? I suppose I was as much as fault as he for not expressing clearly & early enough my expectations. Before marrying him would have been smart. Dang it. We learn, and we move on. I am lucky enough that we co-parent fairly well and at that point that is all I need from him.

Take care.


Kyle Schuant

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #113 on: December 31, 2017, 05:08:29 PM »
How demanding a job it is depends on your involvement as a father. If you choose to be involved, it's tough. If you choose to be the "shut up son, I'm reading the paper" dad, it's not. But then you'll discover why most divorces are initiated by women.

Just my opinion, but I do you really want kids?    You sound like you are more concerned how it will affect your life.    My opinion doesn't mean jack since I have none, but I always assumed that the life you're used to comes a close second to the well being of the child?
Yes and no. Kids do come first because... well, they demand it. But you put yourself, first, too - because otherwise you can't help the your kids. It's like how in an aircraft if you're with a kid and the oxygen masks drop, you put yours on first - because you can't help your kid if you pass out. Same in all first aid situations.

So you have to take care of your needs to a degree, simply to be able to be a functioning and useful parent. A classic example is the screaming baby. You've changed them, fed them, sung and rocked them for half an hour - and they're still screaming. It's like fingernails on a blackboard. You're going nuts, you have a brief thought of shaking the child in frustration, or even smothering the child to shut it up.

That's the time to put the child down in their cot and go outside in the fresh air for ten minutes. As my paramedic friends say of patients, "If they're still screaming, they're still alive, they can wait." Your sanity or losing it in those ten minutes is a danger to the child, whereas being alone for ten minutes in their cot is not. So you put them down and go outside for a bit to swear or cry and breathe deeply and calm down.

From this it extends further. Sometimes you just want to be able to have a crap alone without a small someone wandering in to say hello. You need to get out of the house and have a conversation with someone which is not about babies or the consistency of their poo. And so on.

It's not really that the work is hard, more that it's relentless. There's no scheduled coffee or meal breaks, you're available 24 hours a day.

What you quickly discover is that there's a reason that God or evolution or whatever made two parents. It's too much for one. There are times when you need to step in for your spouse, "I'll take care of this, you go and have a cup of coffee or a lie down, I'll come wake you at dinner time." And they'll need to step in for you.

A lot of this can be planned. You change your work so that you're doing four long days instead of five shorter ones, this gives you a Friday alone with the kids so your spouse can go out all day alone. Or you commit to coming home from work by 4pm on Wednesdays so the spouse can go out to volleyball.

Having children will absolutely impact you and your life. You are not going to have ten hobbies and wake naturally every morning after a solid eight hours' sleep. If you organise yourselves well, you will have one hobby and wake naturally every second morning after a disturbed sleep where you just rolled over and went back to sleep - the other mornings are where you're the one who got up in the night and early. That is, you take turns. But again, this has to be planned.

As a personal example, each weekday my wife gets up with the kids 6-630, and I stay in bed until a bit after she leaves the house. I then get up and sort the kids out for the morning with breakfast and the older one's schoolbag, we take him to school at 830. Then it's back for the day with the younger one, a toddler. I do housework tasks spread through the day - but not ad hoc, planned. Monday, Wednesday and Friday I vacuum and clean all benches and surfaces, Tuesdays I do fruit and vege shopping and Thursdays supermarket shopping, and I have stock lists to tick off, stock lists which relate to the menus, since every Monday we have chilli, Tuesday we have soup, and so on.

Tuesdays and Thursdays people come to my garage gym from 4pm, so my wife finishes work early and picks the older kid up from school and is home by then. She'll then heat up the dinner I made earlier in the day so we can eat at 6. This means she's later home on Mondays and Fridays, making up the hours she was short Tue/Thu. Wednesday night I go out to the city to play games with friends. Friday night is shabbat dinner, we often have people visit us then, if not then it's a night home together for my wife and me, we'll play a game, watch a movie, or listen to an old radio play.

And so on and so forth. Being a parent is nothing mystical and magical. It's a job. You do your job better if you organise it well. This doesn't mean being the "tiger mum" and driving your kid around to six different activities a day. It does mean planning and scheduling to a degree, and spreading the workload around through the week and between the couple reasonably.

Because if you don't plan, then one person - usually the woman - ends up doing everything, and doing it ad hoc. And things are chaotic and there's screaming and crying and not just from the kids. If you make your spouse feel like a single parent, there's every danger they'll decide to make it official.

It's a job, and properly-done it's a job like any other - it'll be mostly tedious, sometimes frustrating, and have moments of joy. Because it's a job involving your own children, the frustrations and the joys will be greater than those of any paid job.

People make a big deal of being a parent and toss a lot of emotional baggage at you about it, especially at women. As a man you get to miss out on all that bullshit about breastfeeding vs not, childcare vs not, whether to ever give your kid lollies, how to encourage them to walk - believe me, this trivial shit is the subject of arguments more bitter and vicious in mother's groups than the Israeli-Palestinian dispute has ever had - but you will get it second hand.


Having children is neither selfish nor unselfish, any more than working as a coder vs working as a teacher is selfish or unselfish. Everyone's work contributes to society generally, and gives them benefits, too. Everyone likes to think their job is the most important job in the world, but at the same time they have days where they resent someone or something about the job and its demands on them. Toss aside all that self-indulgent nonsense: it's just a job. But you should try to do your job well. Have some professional pride.

In the end, it's just a job, a job which you can do well or do badly, a job which is mostly tedious, it just happens to be the job with the greatest joys and greatest frustrations of your life.
« Last Edit: January 01, 2018, 01:10:22 AM by Kyle Schuant »

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #114 on: December 31, 2017, 08:33:44 PM »

In regards to being a baby person, i think im just not a baby person for babies in general but i think this will not impact my own child rearing.  Im pretty confident i would do my best split the tasks with my wife.  I also think despite not being a baby person (neither is my wife) we would totally adore our child.

In regards to not putting the baby f8rst in every decision, i agree.  This is where i have disagreed with most of the people on this thread.  A child will come first on critical issues, but i am a firm believer in the importance of having things in my life that are independent of the family.  A key part of this is ability to FIRE.  Given that people who work 40+ hour jobs are still able to be good parents, i think the notion that having a child is a total loss of freedom is bogus.  That said, it is definitely way different than having no children.

Something i ponder about is the affect of the mentioned parenting style (given complete and near singular focus on the child, or even approximating that) on how the child develops.  One might hypothesize its not entirely positive.

Im not necessarily advociating one extreme versus the other.  Rather, im proposing that for some people, there are optimal paths that deviate from what society views as acceptible.

We are not baby people either.   My spouse and I used to kid that neither of us are very maternal, but more logical and not very emotional.   That being said, I donít think you have to be as long as you are able and willing to do what it takes.  I hated newborn stage, but of course did everything had to do, I didnít enjoy it much more the second time around either, but again, I look back and there were some really nice moments.

As for having the baby needs in the FIRST point of every decision, is not the same as the SINGULAR focus of the decision.   As a parent, you do need to consider the babies need first, but thaynot the onl6 factor.   The freedom is lost in the sense that you canít do what ever you want.  It doesnít mean that you canít do anything. Wit( a child it mean that there is another human and considerations that need to in account where as before there wasnít.  This applies not only to the critical things butalmost all decisions.

A small one, some people want to go for a drink after work, before you might call your spouse and tell them you are going to be late and go.  With child, you now may have to think about is your wife who has been home all day going to want a break, will you be able to make it hom in time to see the child before he goes to sleep, if the child is in daycare, who is picking him up.   You still may go but there has to be more thought to the decision. 

You want to run to the store to pick up something, before you could be at the store and back in 30 minutes.  With a baby, itís almost nap time, you donít want to disturb the nap if you are blessed with a sleeper, so you wait, then when the baby wakes up, you got to change him, and feed him and then get him dressed.   NOW, 3 hours later you can go to the store. 

When I refer to the freedom being lost, i mean things that I used to do, I have to make sure that I have adequately planned for to ensure my kids are taken care of first.  If you want o do somethingís, you have to make sure you have accounted for the care of your child first.  Thatís all.   

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #115 on: January 01, 2018, 08:46:47 PM »
It's an impossible question to answer for someone else, but I just wanted to chime in to share that for me and my husband, having a child (and another on the way) has been the most awe-inspiring, joy-inducing, heart-expanding thing ever.  Yes, it's also all those other things people have pointed out - exhausting, demanding, life-changing.  It's just really hard to put into words the depth of feeling and experience that accompanies having and raising kids.  That said, this thread is definitely proof that not everyone who has kids shares my positive view of all this.  And I'm not sure you can ever know in advance on which side you'll fall.

One of my best friends and her husband are child-free by choice (hers -- he wanted kids initially, but got on board with her thinking to stay with her).  For awhile, I was baffled by my friend's strong conviction that she didn't want kids - I think bc she's the most adventurous person I know, and to me parenthood is like the grandest and craziest adventure you could imagine, so it seemed odd to me that she wouldn't want to do it. But after more thinking and talking to her about it, I completely respect her view and choice.  She has other adventures she wants to pursue in life (including a really strong commitment to her line of work, which is in the public interest), and honestly just does not want to be tied down to the massive responsibility that comes with raising a tiny human.  (Not that you necessarily need a reason to not have kids - not wanting them is perfectly good enough!)

I would spend time with your friends who have kids, and would also do a lot of talking with your wife about your hopes/dreams/expectations/fears.  Include best and worst case scenarios too.  Good luck.

Case

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #116 on: January 03, 2018, 08:41:00 AM »
Spouse and I waited until 33 & 34 to have a kid (we were 32 & 34 when we got pregnant). We began our marriage under the presumption that we wouldn't have children, by choice. Once I hit 30, I began really wanting a child, just because I felt like something was missing from my life. Spouse and I decided that the time was right to try for a kid. We did consider how we'd handle a child with severe medical or cognitive needs. Decided to go ahead and try anyway, understanding that "we got what we got," and there's no use planning on things going according to plan. 5 years after that choice, we have an almost 3 year old son with autism. He's a wonderful child and I wouldn't change a thing about him.

The hardest things about parenting at our house are the lack of free time, given that spouse and I both need a lot of "me" time. Son is a handful of energy and needs constant attention and stimulation.

We haven't had a lot of time for each other, and we've argued over who does more childcare, house chores, etc. Sometimes, we both think that we're failing as parents, especially when it seems that everyone else has this parenting thing down, and we're still struggling to get our kid to hold a spoon. However, it has deepened my love for my spouse, as he had been an incredibly affectionate and involved father, more than I ever thought he would be.

Parenting is hard. Especially if your kid has special needs. It'll make you question your sense of who you are. It'll be the highest of highs (the first time your kid smiles at you) and the lowest of lows (wondering how the hell everyone else is doing parenting so much better than you & realizing that you don't know how to do it any better than what you are).

If you and your wife feel like your life will be incomplete without a child, I'd say that's an important question to ask yourselves. How would you handle having a special needs child, both individually and as a couple? How committed are you to handling really long term, really hard tasks together?

Those things don't cost money, they cost time, as well as mental and emotional fortitude. Those are, in my mind, the most important costs to weigh.


I think I mentioned this earlier in the thread, but having a child with a large disability like that, where they could never become independent, is probably my largest fear.  I don't mean offense by this, but will be typing openly, so don't read on if you think it might significantly hurt by someone's thoughts on the matter. 

I'm grappling with the choice of taking on the massive responsibility of caring for a child for 18 years.  If you are one of the few that has a child with a major disability, this could transform to a full lifetime commitment.  It might also prevent some of the experiences of raising children that many people have them for.  I know what I'm saying is very selfish, but I still believe that most people have children for selfish reasons... or else why have children at all?  In a previous response, I discussed the duality of selfishness and selflessness that the choice to have children entails.

I don't know how I'd respond to having a child with a disability.  It's sort of incomprehensible at this point.  I think I'd try to still do a good job taking care of the child.  But I'm tempted to say that if honest with myself, I would absolutely regret it under those conditions.  I fear that I'd feel an overwhelming sense of doom and depression.  Hopefully you don't find this view depressing or insulting.... I would think a number of people share this opinion.  I have in-laws with an autistic child... I have massive respect for them being good parents to the child (who is now an adult requiring care)... it is not what I want. 

I guess a lot of this is obvious; no one goes in wanting a child with a disability.  It happens unexpectedly.  Maybe the way I think about this is like sky diving.  Maybe 99% of the time it is an awesome life-changing experience, but 1% of the time your backpack is full of picnic supplies rather than a parachute. 

Some people get to a point about having no regrets about having a child with a disability... are able to still be happy.  There is at least one reddit thread out there discussing people who do regret it but would never admit it openly due to societal/etc pressure.  I don't know where I'd end up landing.  As I think about this, I'm not sure how anyone can know in advance... a singularity of sorts. 

I think this partly reflects my general aversion to risk.  Do you avoid having a potentially rewarding experience due to a small risk of disaster?  This of course applies in other areas beyond child-rearing.

I'm sort of blabbing on and on at this point... but I guess I'm trying to answer the original questions.  How would I response to having a special needs child?  Well, the above hopefully shows you that I'm terrified of that possibility.  It depends how far on the spectrum he/she is.  Mild autism seems like no big deal; severe autism would be very hard.  It seems to put at risk everything that my wife and I have been working towards (e.g. FIRE).  My wife would probably handle better than me.  Usually I am more the one to remain calm during difficult situations, but a situation like this would shake me to the core.  I cannot predict how I would respond.  Hopefully through much internal struggle I would evolve and grow.  My wife and I typically handle long-term, really hard things very well.  We work well together and are generally responsible.  I still think these particular sorts of scenarios are unknowns, which are hard to predict.  Most of us have not had to deal with situations like this.

A response question is, do you make decisions based on the worst-case-scenarios or based on the most likely scenario, or both?  These are complex thoughts, and exactly what I am wrestling with (but mostly focusing on the most likely scenarios).

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #117 on: January 03, 2018, 09:48:26 AM »
Well I had a particularly shitty weekend and it was really the first time that I can see the drawback of "losing freedom" with having kids, so I'll share my experience. It may or may not be relevant.

Our dog died on Sunday morning. My husband took her body to the vet to be cremated and when he came home, he didn't want to sit at home so we went out for some errands with the kids. Got home around 330 after picking up some take out. I started throwing up at 4:30. Was fine overnight until about 5:30 the next morning, when the throwing up started again. My husband was quite distraught about the dog, and felt the house seemed empty even with two rambunctious kiddos running around. He kept asking me to come downstairs so he would feel less alone. I complied, but promptly had to run back upstairs to throw up and lay down. Finally I felt well enough to call his friend to come keep him company since I was of no use. However, a few hours later, I decided that I needed to go the ER for anti nausea meds and IV fluids (I'm pregnant). So he had the friend take me to the ER and he was still stuck at home grieving the dog and caring for the kids. If we didn't have kids (or if we had someone to watch the kids), he would have taken me to the ER and then at least he wouldn't be at home alone with his grief. He needed me to be with him and I couldn't be, and it really bothered me. I tried to think through the possible solutions of who to call to help with the kids and how to resolve the situation, but nothing was reasonable at the time (I probably wasn't thinking super clearly). To me, this was the ultimate loss of freedom, much more than not being able to drink coffee or poop alone. Thankfully we have a great friend so at least my husband didn't have to worry about me in addition to the dog and the kids. It still totally sucked to have my body fail at the exact time that my husband truly needed me and there was nothing we could do because we couldn't drag the kids to the ER and we didn't have anyone that could watch them (his friend is a single guy with not much kid experience. The kids love him but he didn't feel comfortable being alone with them on short notice for who-knows-how-long-an-ER-visit-takes.) 

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #118 on: January 03, 2018, 04:38:03 PM »
For me it comes down to money. I could FIRE on my own, but to pay for all the things a kid would need for me to feel like a good parent I would need to work several years longer. I absolutely value freedom from work more than offspring. If  i were already rich, or lived in a society with paid family leave laws, subsidized high quality childcare, and free college I would consider it. Then all the costs if the child is special needs?
No way.
I always joke with people who try to pressure me about having children (mid thirties woman here) that they are welcome to give me 24k upfront each year for the cost of day care where I live. Time relates to money too because if I had money I could pay for a break or send them to boarding school.

Something that has helped me think about it is watching vlogs of people who have kids. You really get the every dayness of it. Every day, there they are, throwing up on you, not sleeping through the night, spending your money on food they refuse to eat. Supposedly its worth it when they say I love you mommy/daddy. But I don't see it.

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #119 on: January 03, 2018, 07:30:12 PM »
Spouse and I waited until 33 & 34 to have a kid (we were 32 & 34 when we got pregnant). We began our marriage under the presumption that we wouldn't have children, by choice. Once I hit 30, I began really wanting a child, just because I felt like something was missing from my life. Spouse and I decided that the time was right to try for a kid. We did consider how we'd handle a child with severe medical or cognitive needs. Decided to go ahead and try anyway, understanding that "we got what we got," and there's no use planning on things going according to plan. 5 years after that choice, we have an almost 3 year old son with autism. He's a wonderful child and I wouldn't change a thing about him.

The hardest things about parenting at our house are the lack of free time, given that spouse and I both need a lot of "me" time. Son is a handful of energy and needs constant attention and stimulation.

We haven't had a lot of time for each other, and we've argued over who does more childcare, house chores, etc. Sometimes, we both think that we're failing as parents, especially when it seems that everyone else has this parenting thing down, and we're still struggling to get our kid to hold a spoon. However, it has deepened my love for my spouse, as he had been an incredibly affectionate and involved father, more than I ever thought he would be.

Parenting is hard. Especially if your kid has special needs. It'll make you question your sense of who you are. It'll be the highest of highs (the first time your kid smiles at you) and the lowest of lows (wondering how the hell everyone else is doing parenting so much better than you & realizing that you don't know how to do it any better than what you are).

If you and your wife feel like your life will be incomplete without a child, I'd say that's an important question to ask yourselves. How would you handle having a special needs child, both individually and as a couple? How committed are you to handling really long term, really hard tasks together?

Those things don't cost money, they cost time, as well as mental and emotional fortitude. Those are, in my mind, the most important costs to weigh.


I think I mentioned this earlier in the thread, but having a child with a large disability like that, where they could never become independent, is probably my largest fear.  I don't mean offense by this, but will be typing openly, so don't read on if you think it might significantly hurt by someone's thoughts on the matter. 

I'm grappling with the choice of taking on the massive responsibility of caring for a child for 18 years.  If you are one of the few that has a child with a major disability, this could transform to a full lifetime commitment.  It might also prevent some of the experiences of raising children that many people have them for.  I know what I'm saying is very selfish, but I still believe that most people have children for selfish reasons... or else why have children at all?  In a previous response, I discussed the duality of selfishness and selflessness that the choice to have children entails.

I don't know how I'd respond to having a child with a disability.  It's sort of incomprehensible at this point.  I think I'd try to still do a good job taking care of the child.  But I'm tempted to say that if honest with myself, I would absolutely regret it under those conditions.  I fear that I'd feel an overwhelming sense of doom and depression.  Hopefully you don't find this view depressing or insulting.... I would think a number of people share this opinion.  I have in-laws with an autistic child... I have massive respect for them being good parents to the child (who is now an adult requiring care)... it is not what I want. 

I guess a lot of this is obvious; no one goes in wanting a child with a disability.  It happens unexpectedly.  Maybe the way I think about this is like sky diving.  Maybe 99% of the time it is an awesome life-changing experience, but 1% of the time your backpack is full of picnic supplies rather than a parachute. 

Some people get to a point about having no regrets about having a child with a disability... are able to still be happy.  There is at least one reddit thread out there discussing people who do regret it but would never admit it openly due to societal/etc pressure.  I don't know where I'd end up landing.  As I think about this, I'm not sure how anyone can know in advance... a singularity of sorts. 

I think this partly reflects my general aversion to risk.  Do you avoid having a potentially rewarding experience due to a small risk of disaster?  This of course applies in other areas beyond child-rearing.

I'm sort of blabbing on and on at this point... but I guess I'm trying to answer the original questions.  How would I response to having a special needs child?  Well, the above hopefully shows you that I'm terrified of that possibility.  It depends how far on the spectrum he/she is.  Mild autism seems like no big deal; severe autism would be very hard.  It seems to put at risk everything that my wife and I have been working towards (e.g. FIRE).  My wife would probably handle better than me.  Usually I am more the one to remain calm during difficult situations, but a situation like this would shake me to the core.  I cannot predict how I would respond.  Hopefully through much internal struggle I would evolve and grow.  My wife and I typically handle long-term, really hard things very well.  We work well together and are generally responsible.  I still think these particular sorts of scenarios are unknowns, which are hard to predict.  Most of us have not had to deal with situations like this.

A response question is, do you make decisions based on the worst-case-scenarios or based on the most likely scenario, or both?  These are complex thoughts, and exactly what I am wrestling with (but mostly focusing on the most likely scenarios).
Warning: please skip if you are sensitive about termination

My husband and I had a heart to heart before kids(actually before we got married since we were serious about this one - this was one of the few make or break questions) and decided we'd terminate if we found the baby would have issues  when it is inside. Our thinking is that we don't want to prolong the pain the baby is in for our selfish reasons (to be parents, to use modern medicine, etc). If the baby comes out and we then find issues (autism, disability due to accident, etc), then we'll suck it up and deal with it. But we can't knowingly let our kid suffer from birth.

I'm sure not everyone thinks this way but this is what makes sense for us. Luckily we haven't needed to test it out. HTH.

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #120 on: January 14, 2018, 01:27:35 AM »
Case,

Here is another thing to consider....

My friend insisted to her husband that they have kids, and he agreed to one (second marriage for him, he had hoped to be done with kids).   Then she insisted on a second, pretty much agreeing that he would be a somewhat hands off dad.  He travelled a heck of a lot for his work, etc.   What she did not realize was that her husband's family had a history of ADHD, which meant she had kids that were an especial handful... and she was ready to call it quits for a while there... Instead she got a nanny and a housekeeper.

If either you or your wife's family have ADHD, consider that in the mix.

For those that are especially fearful of having a kid with a disability, I was too.  Then as I grew up and actually looked a what these kids are like and what their parent's lives are like, I realized that these are some of the most awesome kids out there.   (Not talking about relatively rare low functioning autism here..but other physical disabilities, down syndrome, etc.