I like ID Crossroads. Sheâ€™s smart, confident, and dedicated to her career in medicine, a field that I love. She recently posted about having or not having children. Some people said some stupid things about how having kids does not make people happy, and in fact, makes them feel less satisfied. I replied on her blog, but Iâ€™d like to bring the subject up here, where my ax grinding will beÂ a little more visible.
In the comments section, docwhispererÂ cited a study supporting the fact that having kids doesn’t make people happy. Well, she said she cited a study, but what she reallyÂ referenced was an article that gave us a graph of several studies, the sources of which that were not even cited in the article. I was not very impressed, especially since I couldnâ€™t easily find out how the studies were conducted. And then, basically, the article contradicted docwhisperer’s point anyway.
It started out as a whiner article about how difficult parenthood is, going along the lines of a lot of them Iâ€™ve seen lately in the trendy magazines: Parenthood sucks and you arenâ€™t going to be happy.Â I’m glad I kept reading it though, because then it started talking about cultural aspects of parenting and making several points Iâ€™ve long known to be true.
First, a career outside the home that takes on a higher priority generally adds up to having less satisfaction at home with the kids than making the kids a higher priority than the career. Basically, parents who spend more time with their children are happier parents than those who spend less time with them.
Also, though average daily happiness may be lower for those burdened with children, it would appear that the high points are much better for parents than childless people. It is a trade off. Maybe it shouldnâ€™t be average daily happiness we are trying for.
Iâ€™m tempted to tell you the whys and wonders of happy parenting, but I donâ€™t think that is the point of it all, really. Because I donâ€™t think we should be having children in order to be happy or fill some void in our life.
We should be having children in order to populate the earth with decent human beings. In order to facilitate their growth, they need to be understood to be unique individuals having and processing experiences in the world. In order to be kind to others, they need to be shown kindness. In order to be disciplined, we need to be an example of disciplined people and give our children a proper framework by which they can successfully evaluate the natural consequences of their own actions. We need to give them the chance to make choices as early as possible. We need to know when and how to evaluate those choices. We need to show them trust, teach them trust, as well as teach them when it is not appropriate to trust. We must teach them critical thinking skills and moral behavior. All of this takes hard work and a lot of dedication to the children themselves. In order to be successful, it is this activity that should take priority over others.
Just because becoming a parent is (usually) so easy doesnâ€™t mean it should be taken lightly as a career. It is very demanding. If you fail in this career, you havenâ€™t just failed yourself. Youâ€™ve failed a human being that is intimately your responsibility.