Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Father in La-La Land

Browsing around, I came across an article called 10 Reasons Not to Have Kids Yet...or Ever which is not exactly the most comprehensive list in the world (at least compared to The Top 100 Reasons Not to Have Kids)...but nevertheless...

Because I posted a comment to the article, I get sent notifications when other posters post comments. Here is an interesting response from a father:

I am a happy parent of two, and here are my reasons to have kids:

1) Having a captive audience. Who better to listen to your cheesy renditions of bed-time stories than a wide-eyed child? Or your off-tune renditions of lullabies?

2) Best cure for loneliness or boredom. It takes a lot to sever your relationship with your child. Sure, it takes a lot of love, time and understanding, but tell me something worthwhile that doesn't require effort? Put some love and time into it, and it's probably your best bet for a lasting, close relationship with another person.

3) Relive your childhood. If there were things you loved about your childhood, you can recreate them. Things you hated? You have a chance to set them right.

4) Live comedic performances for free. If a 1-yr old baby playing fetch with your labrador or dancing in the buff to a Michael Jackson tune won't make you smile, nothing will.

5) A witness to your greatness and to your shortcomings. If you continue to screw up-- tell half truths-- your kid will know. If you are prone to tantrums, your kid will know. Likewise, if you love unconditionally, give your time generously, and are truthful, your kid will know. What better inspiration to become a bigger person than that little beloved witness in your house?

6) Getting old will be easier. This I'm speculating on, as I'm not yet old. But I dread to think what holidays without children would be like. Imagine being 75 and spending a lonely Christmas in a retirement home. Yuck! Or my wife, being a solitary widow when she outlives me. Thank God for my two boys. And if they give me grandkids, I'll have little babies to buy xmas gifts for.

7) Will bring your relationship with your partner to its true light. If you are unsure of how strong your relationship with your partner is, there is no better measuring stick than the challenge of bringing up children together.

Well, that's it for now. GTG.

There are a couple of things I found very illuminating about this response:

First, the fact that a parent can state that he had children so that he can have a captive audience, cure loneliness and boredom, be entertained, make getting old easier to bear and have a witness to his greatness screams SELFISH to me, but who am I to judge? Oh, that's right - I am a selfish childfree person, so what would I know about selfishness? ;)

Second, in response to the items listed by the father above, I feel compelled to post a line-item response to this gentleman:

1. Do you really find performing before a long-suffering, captive audience fulfilling? Why not spare everyone the agony and sing into a mirror?

2. Make some friends. Be a devoted partner or husband. Take your wife on a date. Take a class. Develop some listening skills. Show interest in other people. Become a volunteer. Go to school. If having children is the only way you can prevent being lonely or bored, you aren't really living your life.

3. Want to relive the fun things of your childhood? Go ahead. You don't need kids to do it. Ride a rollercoaster, have a pajama party, write in your journal, play board games, play a game of touch football, have silly theme parties with your friends (and make silly videos), laugh until your sides hurt. I do, and you'd be surprised how many other adults, when given the opportunity, like to do these things too. Or if you really can't bear the idea of doing these things without children in tow, take your nieces, nephews or friends' kids out for a day. And then when you're all tired out, turn them back over to their parents and get on with your peaceful life.

4. Get pets. They are endlessly entertaining. I highly recommend having multiple cats and watching their wrestling matches. Boatloads of fun. Or marry a funny person like I did. Rent vintage Eddie Murphy stand-up routines. Your library probably rents them for free. Classic! Here's my favorite Eddie Murphy routine of all time. I laugh just thinking about it!

5. I have news for you. Your kids aren't the only witnesses to your greatness and shortcomings. Have a wife? She's a witness. Have friends? (maybe not, since you rely on your kids to cure your loneliness) - if so, they are witnesses. Have a job? Your boss is watching. If you only care about what children think of you (and not adults), you are selling yourself (and everyone else in your life) short.

6. Follow my advice in #2 above and make some friends. That way, when you get old, you won't have to rely on your adult children to keep you company out of obligation - you will actually have people who voluntarily hang out with you (and really, isn't that more rewarding?) - people to share your life with, to do fun things with, to talk with. Can't bear the thought of not having children around at Christmas time? Invite your friends and family over. Most of them probably have kids - make it a big party! Better yet, adopt a needy family and shop 'till your heart's delight. There is certainly no shortage of kids who would be thrilled to receive Christmas gifts.

7. Have an affair. Develop a drug or drinking problem. Max out all the credit cards. Develop a gambling problem. I mean, come on. If you have to add "challenge my marriage to see how strong it is" to a list of reasons having kids is so wonderful, you're really stretching. This is a minus, not a plus. I am very happy not knowing my marriage's stress threshold, thank you very much.

Edited to Add: I just remembered that my very first post on this blog was about holding onto your inner child. Very relevant to this post.


redwings19 said...

BRAVO. That's exactly what I would have said!!

A. Hidell said...

I agree - that guy's comment made my head hurt! I came upon your blog via the "10 reasons" article (it was posted to CNN this morning), and I love it. I will now be adding it to the long list of blogs I read daily. Keep up the good work!

Mimi said...

Live and let live. These are his reasons for having children, just as you have your reasons for not having children. Why do you insult this father for his reasons for having kids when you complain about others insulting you for not wanting children?

Gumby said...

"Why do you insult this father for his reasons for having kids when you complain about others insulting you for not wanting children?"

I think the difference is that one involves bringing another human into existence, apparently with a preset "job" no less!

I know Dr. Phil is roughly a joke but he says one thing that I can totally agree with:
Children should not be born with a job

It really doesn't matter one bit what someone's reasons for NOT having kids is; that doesn't affect anyone's life but their own.

Having kids to entertain oneself, mitigate one's own insecurities, try to validate one's marriage, etc. - now that is selfish, not to mention a little sick in my opinion.

CFVixen said...

WORD! If those are the best reasons that guy can come up with to breed, he needs to stop trying to convince others (and, apparently, himself).

Unknown said...

I bet this guy's wife decided they would have kids and he went along with it before ever thinking it through for himself. Then he manufactures his "reasons" a few years later based on the vast experience he's gained from the few hours a week he spends "parenting." He just reads like that type, you know?


The Pint said...

I may be on the fence about having any kids of my own, but I know for sure that if my husband ever gave me any of those points as reasons for why he'd want kids/why we should have kids, the answer would be a big, fat "Are you !@#%ing kidding me??"

pamelli said...

The guy was just trying ( and failing horribly!!) to be 'cute and witty'.
But that's rather an ambitious task to undertake , especially when you have such a 'breeder mind' with all its inherent limitations...

Insomniac Chef said...

I found John Neumann's comments on there very telling, honest and depressing. I love how all the mommies quickly rush to judge his life and tell him the crushing pain of regretting having kids will pass and surely things must be worse for his wife so he has to be strong for him. What a ringing endorsement of parenthood. My husband can't wait to sign up after reading that.

Childfreeeee said...

Insomniac, it's funny you point out John Neumann's comment because I also found his comments very honest and depressing. For those of you who don't want to dig to find his comment here it is:

"Good evening ladies, it seems I’ll be the only male responder. My wife and I now have a 7 month old son. I was ambivalent about the decision to have a child, something I’ll always regret. I should have been more assertive of my beliefs, but it seemed selfish to withhold. Being a parent is the most difficult thing I’ve ever done (this coming from someone who works full time while going to grad school). In the time since his birth, I feel like my wife and I have lost each other. She loves me, but loves him more. I miss having a wife and I find my role of friend and lover is now that of provider who spends his days worried about money. I love my son dearly, but he has changed everything. In reflection, I think some couples are well suited to have children. They are forgiving of each other, selfless, find their greatest joy in the company friends and family, they are able to let go of the day’s troubles and dance, they see their partner in their children and love them more for it. We, as it turns out, are not such a couple and the pain of realization is crushing. Live for joy, love with operatic passion, dance with another, make a life of your choosing - you only get one."

The Pint said...

Oh, that's so sad. Sometimes people are lucky and find that despite their initial ambivalence, they really do enjoy being parents - and I do know a lucky few - but it's not the case for everyone. I find it irresponsible and belittling that others would brush off his very honest assessment of how fatherhood has changed his life with what boils down to, "You'll get over it - everyone does, and since it MUST be worse for your wife (because of course fathers are only secondary parents) you should shut up and squelch any doubts you may have, otherwise you're a bad bad husband & father!" It's like sticking your fingers in your ears and going "lalalala" to avoid hearing an unpleasant truth: parenthood doesn't make everyone happy.

Atlantalee said...

While John's comment is sad, and I certainly don't blame him for feeling it or making it public, I also don't blame others for saying "get over it." I've made plenty of decisions in my life that have changed my course and that I have regretted. I realized however, that I was on a new path, and I had to make the best of it. He became a parent, and now he can either make the best of it by being an attentive father and husband, or by wallowing in regret. I probably wouldn't use the words "get over it," but maybe, "try to find joy in the life that you have chosen, even if you don't think it was the right choice." If he goes on believing that he can't be happy being a father, then he won't be.

***Not saying anyone should go into parenthood with the idea that they'll just adapt, but for their own sanity, parents should probably try to find a way to enjoy it, because those kids aren't going anywhere.

The Pint said...

I think the problem with telling John just to "get over it," not to mention implying that his problems can't possibly be as intimidating as whatever problems his wife is having, is that by doing so, they're cutting him off from expressing his unhappiness with the situation, as if his feelings aren't at all valid.

Sure, he's going to have to find a way to deal with the situation now because there's a child involved, and the responsible thing to do here is to follow through and do his best to be a good father.

However, ignoring the fact that he's unhappy isn't going to make it go away - how is he going to learn how to deal with his feelings if he's not even allowed to express them? The fact that he is unhappy should at least be acknowledged as a valid and normal response to the situation, rather than held up as an example of why he's a "bad" father.

SwissBarb said...

1) Ugh. Boring.

2) Get a life. Then have kids if you still want some.

3) Relive your childhood? How about living in the present?

4) Umm... not everybody thinks babies are cute or funny. I certainly don't. But the labrador will make me smile.

5) See #2. Other people in your life can be judges of your greatness and shortcomings, you don't need to create new persons for that.

6) Who says your kids will live near you when you're old and that they have the time/ability to visit for Christmas? Maybe you won't even get along! Get involved in your community instead!

7) If you're unsure how strong the glass of a window is, throw a big rock at it. Yeah.

I may be a bit bitter today, forgive me :-D

Anonymous said...

While reading his list, I was thinking, "Um...just get a dog."

On another blogging forum, I asked the question why people choose to or not to have kids. Among many interesting responses, I was given:

1) "If you're a woman and you don't have children, you're wasting your life and killing unborn children by not having them." Yeah.

2) "Have children or you'll die in a nursing home." That's right. It's guaranteed that your spawn will change your Depends when the time comes.

Sophie the french said...

BRAVO Childfreeee for your answers! This guy has very strange things in his mind, sometimes i had to read twice to make sure i had read what i had read!! I hope he wasn't totally sincere!

Gumby said...

There's no way in hell I'm changing my mom's depends when that time comes! I guess she's shit outta luck! ha ha

I'm an only child too, so I guess she should have had more kids to up the odds.

I've said it before and I'll say it again - I don't do vomit and I don't do shit! Period!

Fanboy Wife said...

That guy is an advocate of having children in order to test a relationship? That is one of the most idiotic things I've ever read. Isn't there a 50% divorce rate in the United States? Aren’t a huge amount of children born to unmarried parents? (Are there any statistics on those relationships?)

At least drug additions, affairs, and financial ruin don't involve creating a completely innocent person to drag into the mess.