"Why Parents Hate Parenting"

Why Parents Hate Parenting, sent to me by my friend Christiana of US Meets UK.  Read and discuss.


When I mention this to Daniel Gilbert, he hardly disputes that meaning is important. But he does wonder how prominently it should figure into people’s decisions to have kids. “When you pause to think what children mean to you, of course they make you feel good,” he says. “The problem is, 95 percent of the time, you’re not thinking about what they mean to you. You’re thinking that you have to take them to piano lessons. So you have to think about which kind of happiness you’ll be consuming most often. Do you want to maximize the one you experience almost all the time”—moment-to-moment happiness—“or the one you experience rarely?”

Then read this response to the article on Babble.com, equally thought-provoking.


Biz did indeed find a silver lining, carefully extracted from Gilbert and his fellow gloomy scientists, and it was as follows: though average happiness goes down when you have kids, experiences of extreme pleasure and pain increase. In effect, by having kids you are re-submitting your life to the turbulent intensity — the highs and lows — of earlier phases of life.

I’ll post my thoughts after I have a little more time to sit with it, but my initial thoughts are:

Holy shit.

Uh, oh.

Oh, crap.



Ugh, like my twenties again?

Hmmmm.  Less predictable, less control, more ups and downs.  Not this.


8 thoughts on “"Why Parents Hate Parenting"

  1. Hello husband of mine! How did you get that petite curvy body?….seriously you are the same person on the inside (not the vajayjay part…..but all the rest;)

  2. Yes… I have often prophecized that a life with children would be *less* enjoyable than one without, for the reasons stated in the article and your excerpt. And with more drama too. As you said… Ugh. Do I still want kids? Yes, I think so. But at least I’m aware of what I’m giving myself up to.

  3. I tried to write a long response to this and just had too much trouble putting it into words.

    But long story short: Yes, having kids is very difficult. And I’ve had more trouble than most — unplanned baby (3 months after our wedding/moving in together), chronic illness with pain and fatigue, months of bedrest, severe postpartum depression, a strong-willed baby who never stops and never sleeps, tiny condo with no nursery, unplanned stay-at-home and the identity crisis that brings…. I’ve completely lost track of myself as a person. I’m counting the days till the baby starts school — only 2-3 more years till I have some time to reclaim my own interests!

    But with all that, I wouldn’t wish it away for a moment. The joys ARE stronger, and we believe there are more of them. It’s like marriage, or even pet ownership — sure, there are compromises and you can’t live 100% as you would with no one else’s interests to consider. But these things bring love into our lives. Pure, sweet, blissful love. As much as I might miss my unfettered life once in a while, that love makes my life richer, and I truly believe it’s worth the tradeoff.

    • @TwoWishes Tara, You know, I think the undercurrent of your response was right on: having kids isn’t a strictly logical thing. It can’t be. If it was, it would make less sense than it does now – you know, at least partly hormonal and emotional.

      Some decisions can’t be made in the head. Sure, they have to make some sense, but ultimately, the decision-maker is your gut/ heart/ soul/ emotions/ hormones.

      Our pets are wholly unproductive additions to our lives. They cost us (tons of!) money, drive us nuts, and make things harder. We can’t travel on a whim or stay out late or enjoy a quiet evening (if we’re out of treats or food or they feel like wrestling). I’m so glad we have them. They keep us from leading quiet lives, predictable ones where you know if you put something down on a table, there it will remain. When I travel, things are too quiet, too still without our crew of chaos-causers. And — I struggle to put this into words — our relationship gets something extra to focus on other than just each other. Put another way: I appreciate my husband’s different-ness when I see how good a team we are together when we deal with the dogs. He plays; I cuddle. He disciplines; I soothe.

      So I’m going to wait until the emotional side tips the scales over the logical. At some point, I’ll just WANNA. In the meantime, I’ll let the logical side start planning and preparing… because that point is coming really soon.

  4. Hmm. I read that blabber article with great interest. It was refreshing to hear a parent willing admit the sacrifices in a non-romantic way (for most of the article anyway). Although I did cringe at the presumptuous comments about the childfree, I know he’s just using the language familiar to him and not meaning to offend me really.

    At first, when I read your comment that some decisions can’t be made in the head, I thought I disagreed with you. My decision not to have children is all about looking honestly at how I like to spend my time, what kind of life I want to live, what my financial priorities are etc etc. But then I remembered the engagement period of agony and obsessiveness over whether committing to a childfree life was really something I wanted. It was entirely my heart struggling to comprehend what my brain was telling me, and only once I realized that I was making logical explanations for my feelings and (lack of) hormonal impuse, did I let my decision lie and feel settled.

    • @Christine, Right. Weird, right? I’m reading an old Michael Pollan book about a little house he built for himself (by himself) as a place to write, to getaway, to be alone. He writes about needing to find a logical explanation to bolster what he feels, analyzing from three formal perspectives something he knew all along, as though only when the logical and emotional agree can a decision be good. Then he laughs at himself. I totally know that feeling.

      Us cerebs (cerebrals, I made it up) feel like we have to make logical decisions, but I know I often find myself looking for reasons to agree with what I feel.

      • @Marisa, As weird and out of context as this sounds, this discussion makes me think about my after-work hobby/obssession- teaching and training muay thai and jiu jitsu. I’m constantly hurt, always banged up, tired and sleepy during the week, unable to spend more time with my friends and enjoy DC at 25 years old the way most feel they should. It’s a relatively expensive hobby (less so now that I teach) that requires a strong commitment (more so now that I teach) and doesn’t seem pay-off from an objective perspective. I spent years trying to logically and analytically justify the fact that I spend so much time doing it before finally coming to terms with the fact that I simply enjoy it. Sometimes we don’t have to qualify the things we want.

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