Happy Parents Open Thread

Jacqueline says:

I genuinely do not understand why anyone would want to do that [put through pregnancy/motherhood] to someone they love.

A genuine question deserves a genuine answer, but since my son is only 5 months old, I don't feel fully qualified to give one. Or rather, I could answer why we made the decision, but not whether it turned out to be correct. So hopefully, y'all can help me out.

First, note that the wording automatically assumes that the choice is being imposed by the man on the woman. In the modern age where birth control and abortion are widely accessible to adults, that is ridiculous. So let's frame the question in a more appropriate way, and ask: "Why would two people who love each other decide that it's in their own best interests to have a child - and can they turn out to be right?"

If you are a parent who is past the "payback period", in other words, looking back, you believe that you have gotten more benefits than costs from parenting, please tell us a little bit about why. I'll collect and post a few of them.

(Note to the childfree nazis: I am not saying what anyone else should do, or saying that having kids is a good thing for everyone, or even most people. I am merely trying to demonstrate that it can be a good choice, and that not every woman who has kids is a dupe or a victim, as Jacqueline has claimed)

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Having children brings joy

Having children brings joy that simply can't be measured in terms of dollars and cents.

Watching my children learn to talk/walk/read/learn is priceless and something that I wouldn't want to trade for all of the money that I could have saved (and loss revenue from my wife not working).

Her question - that she doesn't understand - merely shows that she has not had children and experienced the wonder that it involves.

The gap between the

The gap between the childless and child-having is one of the reasons for the political gulf we've got in the U.S.

Some sociologist I think made the point that the childless believe the world's problems deserve their full attention, and that being a member of the global community is more important than parenting, which tends to make people willing to restrict care to their family - very selfish and "individualistic".

The entertainment value of

The entertainment value of children is highly subjective, and folks who have children presumably expect to be entertained by it enough to compensate for the costs of parenting. Some of these parents will doubtless report that their assessment was correct. Others will report that they erred and that parenting was not as amusing as they had anticipated. The childfree presumably believed that the entertainment value of children would not be enough to outweigh the costs; however, there is probably no way for them to ascertain whether they were correct. Perhaps if I had had children, I would have been amused far beyond my wildest dreams. I'll never know.

I don't have kids, but have

I don't have kids, but have no problems with anyone wanting to do so. The reason for my not having them so far is that (a) I don't want to or I'm not yet ready to take on the added expenses, and (b) I'm not sure that I'm really grown up enough to be a parent myself. More power to those who decide to have kids, as well as to those who don't. It's a decision for both potential parents to make, and except in cases of rape, there's no way it can be said that a man is forcing anything on a woman as far as having children.

I will limit my comments to

I will limit my comments to the two children of my second marriage. They were a lot of work, but worth it. Currently, at 13 and 16, they are two of my favorite people; having in my family two delightful children whom I love and who love me is one of the best things in my life.

I did a good deal of the work of bringing them up, both in infancy and thereafter, although less than my wife did. The clearest evidence of her view of the matter is that she was in favor of having a third child, although as it turned out we were unable to do so.

We have six children so far

We have six children so far and are pretty happy with the results. Children have different benefits at each stage of their lives. As we homeschool we are fortunate to be able to experience the children's full personalities without any filtering of the school system. This results in great family life, positive socialization and fulfilling times together.
The bottom line is the decision not to have children is to leave the future up to those that do have children. That is a valid choice and we are training our children to be willing to take care of those who have decided to dedicate themselves to Now and leave the Later to them.

I didn't have kids as an

I didn't have kids as an investment strategy so there is no "payback period". I've always enjoyed kids although I think very young babies are fairly boring.

I like teaching kids about the world and reliving my childhood vicariously through them. Nothings more fun then showing a kid how to catch his first frog, or how to build a paper boat, or how to turn a old tee shirt into a giant bubble maker. So for me having kids was naturally enjoyable. I decided that wanted to eventually have a family and kids when I was in my teens.

Of course, you could experence all that without having your own kids by taking certain career paths.

BTW, Patri. I invented a game for my kids called the spider game you might want to try. This game requires some hand coordination so I guess age 2-5. Bigger than that and they could hurt you. I thought this game would help young children understand that different approaches to similar problems are sometimes appropriate.

Mackers Spider Game

Stage One - Small Spider: First you make one hand walk towards your child like a spider on the ground. It shouldn't go in a straight line and should move very rapidly. If he doesn't do anything then the spider attacks which can involve tickling or pretending to bite with two fingers used as fangs. You only attack for a short period then retreat back behind your own body with the spider. Then the spider comes out again. When the spider is on the move you use a high pitched voice to animate it's activities. I just say dody-do-do-do as it walks. Now most kids will defend themselves by trying to smack the spider. If they try to do so with their foot or to sit on the spider then just move the spider very fast so they cannot get it. Only allow them to hit this small spider with a quick smack of the hand. If they get the spider then flatten your hand on the ground and say "Splat!.
Do this several times so the get the idea.

Stage Two - Medium Spider: Still using one hand make the spider come out again but this time he is slower and more deliberate. Also change the your voice to a medium pitch. The words should come out a little slower to. If the child then tries to smack the spider with the hand do not avoid the smack as this spider doesn't care about smacks. In fact it should raise it's front two legs and laugh in the same medium voice when smacked. The child will be puzzled what to do. If he tries to sit on the spider then move it out of the way fast enough not to get caught. If he tries to step on the spider then let it happen and go "Squish!". Most kids will not try anything other than the hand swat so what you say is "This spider is to strong. Why don't you try something different." They will sometimes think of sitting on it first then you say "This spider is to fast to be sat on. Why don't you try something different". Finally, if they don't get it then ask, "Did you try stepping on it?"

Stage Three - Big Spider: The last spider is big and is made from both hands. Put them together like you are praying and now keep the wrists together and splay your hands. The thumbs are the fangs and the fingers are the legs. You have to bend over to make this big spider walk. He will walk very slow and will have the deepest voice you can muster. He is totally resistant to slaps and foot stompings, and laughs in a bass "Hu, Hu, Hu" to any such attempts. To be killed he must be sat on. Being slow makes him vulnerable to this attack. The big spider makes a "Crunch" when sat upon.

All Stages: Let the first proper attack be successful when the child is first learning the game. The spider can become more evasive to the proper attack later on but you should always maintain a high success rate for the proper attack and as close to zero success with the improper attack. Sometimes the kid will manage to step on the small spider despite your efforts and of course it should die. Sometimes the medium spider will get successfully sat upon. Spreading your hand(s) out when being stomped on pretty much prevents any pain to you. Remember this is a game for toddlers and a little older. Just stop playing it with the kids that get too big.

Inventing games for kids is not for the faint hearted. My dad decided one day to tuck my brother in with a new game he just thought of. He streched the covers across my brothers chest and started bouncing my brother on the bed saying "Tucka-tuck" then decided to go through the alphabet bouncing him each time "aucka-auck", "bucka-buck", "cucka-cuck", "ducka-duck" and at about this point he realized this wasn't such a good idea because I was laughing in a sinister way. I am about 5 years older than my brother. He continued on smoothly with "eucka-euck" then "gucka-guck". I was disappointed that first night.

I could tell my dad was avoiding the game the next night when he turned out the light without doing it, but laughed again when my brother asked to be "Tucka-tucked". I was challenging my dad. I knew he was going to slip up at some point. It ended up being a nightly ritual. I don't know if my brother ever had problems with his alphabet because of that missed consonant or not. My dad would occasionally really slip up and give me a chance to laugh at that too.