Thursday, April 21, 2011

Honest Father: Cad or Hero?

Thank you to CFVixen for alerting me to this heartfelt and brutally honest article by a married man who resents his kids because they have come between him and his wife.

I have mixed feelings about this article. My first reaction was hurray - a parent who is shattering the parenthood mystique and telling it like it really is!  If more people would put themselves out there and be honest like this, there might not be such a thing as the parenthood mystique because the hard facts would be in everyones' faces, just as much as the fairytale stories of parental bliss that permeate every cell of our culture. He is a brave man - perhaps even a hero.

On the other hand, I want to say to this man: who put a gun to your head and made you have kids? The comments posted to his article are harsh - many unnecessarily so (come on - is it really necessary to make fun of the man's appearance for crying out loud?) but I do agree with the general sentiment that he is a bit of a whiner. After all, he chose the life of parent. He went along with his wife's desire to have more children, even though things were fine with having only one stepdaughter. He even admitted that producing children boosted his masculine ego, yet now he bellyaches that he no longer gets attention from his wife.

What did he expect having children would do to his marriage? Did he really expect that he would still be number one to his wife once kids came along? Is his wife really different than any other married woman with kids? Did he really expect the romantic dinners, long talks, day trips and intimate evenings with his wife would continue once kids came along? If so, why would he think that? Does he not have friends or family members with children? How is it possible to observe other couples with children and not see how they suck the life out of a marriage?

His cutting and honest article lays bare many of the important reasons the childfree make the choice not to have kids. We don't want to end up like this man with the sad eyes - emotionally abandoned, going through the motions in a passionless marriage and just getting by in life, counting the days until our burdensome spawn fly the coop. We don't want to be downgraded from number one in our spouse's life to number two (or three or four). We want to make our partner the top priority in our lives, not the lowly creature who gets thrown the scraps of whatever attention and energy we might have left at the end of our overwhelming and draining day. We want to relish in adventures, explorations and joyful, romantic experiences now while we have the youth, energy and income to fully enjoy them, and not have to delay until retirement because we are tied down by an 18-25 year long commitment that sucks us dry.

To this sad man I regretfully say: you made your bed and now you must lie in it. If you wanted to be the apple of your wife's eye and wanted your freespirited, romantic and joyful relationship to continue undisturbed into old age, you shouldn't have had kids. Now that you have kids, they take top priority. That's just the way it is, and that's why a growing number of us think very carefully and make the important choice not to have them.

One more thing: while I respect your honesty and am grateful that in the big picture you are aiding in dispelling the myth of parental bliss, in the smaller picture I feel sad for your wife and kids who undoubtedly will suffer for your cutting honesty. After all, the internet is forever.


If you'd like to read more from regretful parents, click here.


Temujin said...

Wow, those responses to his article were harsh. Sounds like a lot of British house-mums closing ranks. I didn't see it as whining, at least not nearly as whiny as many other regretful parents.

I'm guessing if the shoe were on the other foot he would still be called selfish. Imagine if he spent more time with his kids from a previous marriage than he spent with his new wife. People would say he's being selfish, he should make time for his wife, she has needs too, etc.

You do have a point that he should have thought about these possibilities before he had kids. But, why can't someone admit to having regrets without being accused of whining? I always thought that admitting that you have regrets, or admitting you made a mistake, is what a responsible, mature person does.

I would also contrast him with those husbands who lose interest in their wives once they become parents. She's fortunate he's still trying. He's still trying to bring romance to the relationship and that means he needs to grow up?

Unknown said...
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Valerie said...

Wow. As much as I thanked him for his honesty, even *I* felt bad for his wife and kids after reading his post, and I hate children. Your post is dead-on accurate - he should not have had kids.

Unknown said...

Hi -- Clearly with 584 comments there is a lot of emotion on this topic! I agree with you--he chose to marry a woman who already had a child and then have more kids with her. If he had these feelings why did he let another kid come on the scene? It also reads like he is rather helpless when it comes to trying to make his relationship be more of what he wants it to be. Does his wife truly understand his experience? They need some marital work--the hard kind but necessary if the marriage will ever have a chance at being happy again....Laura

Daghain said...

A major part of the problem that everyone seems to be overlooking is that SHE is putting the kids first. That should never happen. Your spouse is first, the kids second. Yes, he is partlyresponsible for creating his own problem, but she is the one who has her priorities screwed up. I'll bet if she'd just start acting like his wife instead of like her kids' mother all the time, he would not have so many regrets.

Unknown said...

"Boosting masculine ego" ???

That is beyond scummy. His story just goes to show parents do not think that far ahead and are short sighted when it comes to breeding. Either way, he garners no pity from me, his kids however..I feel so sorry for them. Children know when their parents, especially father, is uninterested. I am always weary of men who have children, since I am young and have never had to push crotchfruit out of my sexy bits, many of the ones I run into make it a little obvious they miss a good snug vagina now and then. By the way, this post was beautifully written, I love your style and rhetoric.

strawberrysaturday said...

I don't agree that the wife should be putting her husband before the children. Children, if you have them, need to come first and it should be expected that your relationship changes hugely when children come along. Yes, I'm sure having children can bring a couple apart in some ways, but it can also affect the time you spend together and you no longer have as much time for each other. That's one of the benefits of being CF: that you get to put yourself and your spouse first. Having children means you forgo this opportunity because, in my opinion, to be a good parent, the children must come first.

redwings19 said...

I am a child of a father who did not want/need her. And I am sure it has affected me. Quite frankly – while I can point to the instances where his influence was needed/wanted - I don’t care. I am lucky enough to see that I got what I needed anyway.

ALSO, I have known all along that I did not want kids.

I have NO SYMPATHY for those who knew they did not want kids and still went ahead and had them anyway. Did you think there was a merit badge in it or something? Or a cash-money prize?? Pull your heads out of your butts and smell the OJ, for Pete’s sake. The ONLY obligation you have is to take care of that child until they reach adulthood. Those who hide from that I have a particular punishment in mind. Others, THINK AHEAD, DAMN IT!!! .

Selfish yes, true yes. What you wanted to hear? Probably not. But get over it. If someone wants no children, they should be able to – AND SHOULD TAKE CARE OF –the possibility of children coming from them. Children are tolerated at best by certain people. The problem is when those people are the ones who become parents. I truly feel sorry for the children at that point, as I am one of those children. FYI, I was ignored..
And while I feel sorry for the family, we need to start looking for ourselves. Not everyone wants kids which is why we are here. Why should we feel bad for the wife? She has been through this before, she should have seen a red flag somewhere when she chose to have a child with yet another man. Grow up and take some responsibility for what YOU are doing.

sthugar said...

I couldn't agree more with your post if you paid me. Reading between the lines really exposes this guy as a selfish little whiner, ESPECIALLY the part where he's talking about the decision to have the last child. I hope his youngest son never reads this article.

And at the risk of getting up on my feminist soapbox, the line about how he thrives on "putting his woman on a pedestal" just made me see red. In my experience, guys who put women on pedestals often throw tantrums when said women don't act exactly the way they want her to act at all times. How about treating "your" woman as an equal?

shell said...

I agree with ringo-this story just goes to show most parents do not think that far ahead and are short sighted when it comes to breeding. A friend of mine's 35 year old daughter had her 2nd kid 2 years ago. the first one is 5 and now this one is 2 and she says she feels "trapped". Well why didn't she think about that before having the 2nd kid? I'd feel trapped with one kid. That's why I have none.

Temujin said...

Is it just me, or does anyone else think the outrage on that website was overblown?

It’s amazing how many gut reactions to his writing evolve so quickly into a complete psychiatric diagnosis of his entire life: he was raised by a particularly distant mother; he is a sociopath; he’s mentally defective; he suffers from a Peter Pan complex, etc. Maybe all those are true, but I think I would need more information before jumping to those conclusions. What, do the _Daily Mail_ readers keep a DSM-IV handy?

It sounds to me like he's triggered a lot of people who are not really listening.

Maybe as a male I’m prejudiced in his favor. I can admit that. Can his female detractors admit that they may be a little prejudiced against him? Maybe the word “creep” gets thrown around a bit too freely when a man says something not entirely welcome.

One point I feel compelled to point out: it’s logically inconsistent to say that on the one hand HE needs to just accept his situation because that’s just the way parenthood is, just get over it, and on the other hand say that SHE needs to leave him and move on because his feelings are unacceptable. If he is just supposed to accept the unpleasant facts as they are, then she has to accept the unpleasant facts as they are. Unless there’s a double standard for some reason.

Unknown said...

A lot of men want their cake and to eat it, too. They want kids but expect that their wives will continue to wait on them hand and foot and give them a foot rub every night and then are shocked when she's frazzled and resentful that she's taking care of the kids all the time. My DH was smart--he knows that kids are a lot of work. He also knows that he LOVES that I pay so much attention to him and that he doesn't have to lift a finger around the house--and this is why he thinks having kids is a bad idea. More men need to think with their heads before thinking with their pants when it comes to having kids.

Domain said...

As I read this article I kept waiting to read the comment "So I talked to my wife about it and...", but that comment never came. This guy's feelings are perfectly normal, but no couple gets anywhere without communication.

But I think this guy's gripe is legitimate. It's interesting that when he was the stay at home dad he also had to be the comforting support for his wife, but she didn't seem willing to do the same for him when he was the one working.