Parenting news and blues

Newsweek poses the question: Having Kids Makes You Happy: True or False? The article cites several studies that find parents are in fact less happy than the childless (or childfree, as many prefer to call themselves), and that they have less happy marriages as well. The author, Lorraine Ali, is herself a parent, and counters the negative data with a reminder that “there are other rewarding aspects of parenting that are impossible to quantify” and that even if parents report themselves less happy, they still have “a greater sense of purpose and meaning in their lives than those who’ve never had kids.” For my part, I can honestly say that I am much happier now than before I had children. Was my life more carefree back then? Definitely. Is my life harder now? Absolutely. But what I have gained from parenthood is not just a sense of purpose and meaning (though of course I did gain those) but happiness as well.

A new NBC series, The Baby Borrowers, thows teen couples into the parenting pit and lets the world watch as they squirm. I didn’t watch the show, but the LA Times review of the premiere reported that contrary to what one might expect, the young men did rather better with the babies than the young women, who frequently dissolved in fits of tears and frustration. I doubt I’ll bother watching, since (a) I don’t like reality TV in general, and (b) I’m going to be reliving the madness myself in a little over a week, when our new addition joins the household, and any TV I do watch is going involve things to take my mind off the crying baby in my own house, not provide back-up in stereo.

Having just visited the show’s website to obtain the URL for my link, I saw that it contains a poll asking at what age couples are best suited to become parents. The results of the poll when I voted just now were: Teens 27%, Twenties 31%, Thirties 41%, Forties less than 1%, and later than that less than half a percent. The fact that 30s ranked highest didn’t surprise me, but I would have thought that 20s and 40s would both have garnered more votes, and teens far fewer. In case you’re curious, I voted for 20s as the best time, even though (or more likely because) I had my own children in my late 30s and early 40s. One of my earlier posts (and one of my favorites) will explain why.

Lisa Chamberlain, author of Slackonomics: Generation X in the Age of Creative Destruction, which will be published in a few days, writes on her blog about the effect getting “knocked up” (her term, not mine) has had on her life. So far, not much. She doesn’t feel any pressing need to marry the boyfriend who knocked her up (like so very many others today, alas) and doesn’t think the baby is going to affect her career all that much. Okay, stop laughing, all you mothers out there. You see, Ms. Chamberlain is a member of Generation X, which is far superior to those stupid Baby Boomers (you know, the ones who for the most part did think it was important to get married before they got knocked up – or at least before they started showing) in that Gen X couples practice Shared Parenting, that is, Gen X guys aren’t hamstrung by outmoded ideas about gender roles, and they really do half of everything house and kid related, fifty-fifty, share and share alike. Personally, I can’t wait to read Ms. Chamberlain’s blog a year or so from now to see how her boyfriend is doing in the fifty-fifty department.

Comments 6

  1. Lisa Chamberlain wrote:

    Thanks for reading my blog! I do appreciate it. However, just a few notes of clarification. I didn’t say having a child would have no effect on my career. It’s’ just that I finally got to a point where I wasn’t hand-wringing about it. I’ve experienced quite a few ups and downs with my career having had no children at all! So I have a little faith that my career isn’t going to just go away as if I have done nothing for the last 20 years. Do I expect bumps in the road? Hell yes. That’s the Gen X/Slackonomics experience. No evidence it’ll change now.

    More importantly, however, I carefully avoided saying that “shared parenting” meant 50-50. That’s not my expectation. Life is a lot messier and more complex, and the more flexible everyone is, the happier we will all be. Having said that, my partner has two smart and beautiful daughters whom he loves very much and co-parents with his ex-wife. So I have pretty concrete evidence that he’ll be a pretty fantastic dad!

    Posted 01 Jul 2008 at 11:53 pm
  2. Brigette Russell wrote:

    Thanks for reading and commenting. Glad the perfect 50-50 wasn’t your expectation, since it’s pretty unrealistic. I read a NY Times article online somewhere recently about shared parenting, and some of those couples were pretty hard core about insisting that EVERYTHING had to be right down the middle. Seemed a bit obsessive to me. You’re right that flexible is better.

    Hope your pregnancy is an easy one. I’m always sick the first trimester, and then miserable again in the third. It’s ghastly, but it’s all worth it when you finally bring that baby home from the hospital.

    Posted 02 Jul 2008 at 3:19 am
  3. Bev wrote:

    I’m glad she expects bumps in the road. Little does she know that they won’t be speed bumps, but what will seem like enormous mountains. As those of us who are currently parents know, it is really easy to comment on what you THINK it’s going to be like. The reality is always different. (And yes, Lisa, you can sit and say, “Oh, I know it will be different.” No you don’t, you won’t know until it is upon you) My husband is a wonderful father, and I consider him a co-parent, as well as just an overall great. But not on any given day are our contributions 50-50, or even 60-40, or even 70-30….you get the picture. And I married this man when our first child was six months old.

    I’m interested to see what Lisa has to say six months after her baby is here, and then at two years, and then again at ten years. I do wish her all the best. The easy part is having the baby, the hardest thing you will ever do is raise it.

    Posted 04 Jul 2008 at 12:05 pm
  4. Lisa Chamberlain wrote:

    Thanks for reminding me why I’ve (mostly) stayed away from blogging about my personal life! From now on, I’ll just stick to talking with my family, friends and acquaintances, many of whom have kids and say it’s difficult of course, but have lots of positive things to say as well. People ranting on blogs, however, seem to be another species. I don’t know what I’ll be saying in six months or two years, but it won’t be a rant on a blog!

    Posted 06 Jul 2008 at 3:56 pm
  5. Brigette Russell wrote:

    Oh, the positives outweigh the negatives by far. Having kids is the best thing in the world, and nothing worth doing is easy or comes without a price. I have noticed that the “It’s so hard!” complaints and warnings tend to predominate in our cultural discourse on parenting, and this is a pity. I understand it, because the day to day grind of taking care of small children especially can really get to you, but it’s important to remember the rewards as well as the drudgery, and to be grateful for the incredible blessing that children are.

    Posted 08 Jul 2008 at 4:06 pm
  6. Dmitry wrote:

    I truly appreciate this post. I have been looking everywhere for this! Thank goodness I found it on Bing. You’ve made my day!

    Posted 17 May 2013 at 9:16 am

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