Re: Parenthood

1

I got as far as the "the mom is hot!" argument, which I thought was stupid. I mean, the mom worked all day, then cooked dinner for everyone, and then had to nag people. Yeah, that would suck. But I didn't realize that it only bothered me because I was perving on the mom.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 8:11 AM
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I think the point of that commentary, oud, was less that the description was about perving and more that it was focused on presenting a neat little picture of put-togetheredness. In other words, a lot of parents are unhappy because they imagined parenthood as a pretty picture and now have to deal with the fact that, actually, it's pretty messy.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 8:22 AM
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I know that is what s/he says -- but I found the speed to which s/he jumped to that from the descriptors given extraordinary. I glossed over the description entirely really (thinking more of the fact that she was doing everything) -- but what we get is "trim," "hair in bun," "glasses on head." In my personal repertoire -- hair in bun and glasses on head means harried -- it's what I do with with my hair and my glasses when I want them away from me now, without caring for a tidier solution. The author immediately says, "Of course we are all thinking, 'Wow, the mom is hot!'" When not only didn't that occur to me, I found it a little freaky that that was the immediate takeaway for this author. Like they've watched too many 80s teen movies.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 8:29 AM
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My reaction was similar to #1. As I recall, the original piece was surprisingly well-grounded in the social science literature for a news magazine feature.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 8:32 AM
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Fair enough.

And I will say, while I am sympathetic to the article's point that a great deal of parental unhappiness derives from expecting the entire movie to be about them, the author seemed somewhat unaware of the extent to which parents cope with their own life being not about them at all.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 8:36 AM
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I thought the "hot mom" commentary was to show that the response to the video may have been different if the mom were not thin, not white, not upper-class, not educated-looking, and that the writer focused most of the paragraph on her own identification with the mom than with the scenario described in the video.

Yes, I do think TLP was pretty harsh on moms--apparently TLP's thesis is that everyone unhappy is a narcissist--in that, while I think it's not incorrect to point out the flaws in the "I'm going to reproduce and everything will be so wonderful and all about ME" plan, I also want not to lose all sense of compassion for people to whom this idea has been ruthlessly marketed their entire lives.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 8:45 AM
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But I didn't realize that it only bothered me because I was perving on the mom.

Of course not. She's too old to perv on.


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 8:47 AM
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You know, I went into parenthood with very low expectations, as I do with everything, and I'm still depressed.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 8:48 AM
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8: So you expected to be miserable and you are?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 8:52 AM
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the extent to which parents cope with their own life being not about them at all

I thought this too, but also that it was somewhat mitigated by the proposal that parents shouldn't feel that their entire lives should revolve around their children, and that it can result in a joyless hovering and fretting that is never really about the kid and doesn't make the parents happy anyway. That's a more complex engagement with the problem, but again, lacking in compassion for the current experience of parenthood.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 8:52 AM
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Life. Don't talk to me about life.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 8:54 AM
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[A]pparently TLP's thesis is that everyone unhappy is a narcissist....

"Narcissism" is to amateur Internet psychiatry what "privilege" is to Internet amateur film/literary criticism.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 8:55 AM
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Further to 5.2 and 6.2, I am sympathetic to the disappointment that comes from buying into the myth that "now my life will be complete" because that's more or less the myth that I bought into as far as marriage goes, and coming to a place were I realized that Marriage (and the mutual effort to live out the script) had swallowed my entire identity kinda sucked a little. I have no doubt that there are those who would look at me in the last stage of that and see a self-absorbed brat demanding attention. It's easy enough for the same thing to happen in parenting -- you are expected to make everything in your life about the kid and at some point something in you snaps and you just want to scream, "I still exist!"


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 8:59 AM
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9: more or less. It's not surprising, I know, but it is a counter example to the "unhappy parents had too high expectations" thesis.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 9:00 AM
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14: At least you don't have to cope with disappointed expectations, though. You have that going for you.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 9:01 AM
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New mouseover text!


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 9:06 AM
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I also wonder if there's a difference in the amount of time people have spent around children before having children, and if it's related to disappointed expectations. I remember my ex saying he and his ex-wife had all these problems early on in their marriage, and they both thought having a few kids would fix those problems, give their relationship a purpose, etc., and instead, it revealed their problems were even bigger than they thought. And I was like, dude, had you ever met a child? I don't even know where that expectation comes from, but it seems pretty common.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 9:06 AM
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Also features a fun takedown of Lori Gottleib.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 9:12 AM
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My therapist used to say that it's much harder to get any growing done once you're in a relationship, and much much harder to change once you've got kids.

Not that this is a fortune-set-in-cement, but that often people tend to solidify at whatever stage they were at when they got married/had kids. A large part of that is that kids offer the luxury of projecting everything onto them, without the time to reflect and process.

A second large part of it - she'd say - is that people tend to settle down with someone at the same developmental stage, and so unless both people happen to grow exactly at the same pace, the lagging spouse holds the growing spouse back.

In other words: Locking down with kids and marriage stabilizes things; growth destabilizes things.

(I don't want to put words in Di's mouth, but I'm pretty sure her and UNG could somewhat fit into this narrative, in that Di continuing to grow brought the short-comings of the marriage and UNG into focus and ultimately it was sufficiently destabilizing that the marriage had to end.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 9:17 AM
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lacking in compassion for the current experience of parenthood. [and other similar comments above]

I agree that the pure tough love get-over-it approach to narcissism is in its own way shallow, but it's still very valuable to trace out the omnipresence of narcissistic assumptions in American culture.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 9:21 AM
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20: My point was more that a desire for identity and recognition isn't always narcissistic, and "obvious" narcissism is often something very different when viewed within a much longer context.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 9:29 AM
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The article was in New York magazine not in the New York Times.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 9:30 AM
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the lagging spouse holds the growing spouse back

Oh great, as if there weren't enough ways I was doing this already.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 9:42 AM
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How much is the appearance of narcissism here a product of the constraints of the genre these people are writing in?

Gottleib and Senior are writing self-helpy memoirs for a broad audience. That means that they need to focus on themselves, and do so in a way that a broad audience can understand immediately. Did Gottleib really think her relationship would be like Will and Grace secifically, or did she use Will and Grace because she knew her readers would instantly recognize and feel an emotional pull from the reference?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 9:42 AM
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My point was more that a desire for identity and recognition isn't always narcissistic,

A mother doesn't have an identity? Something more is going on. You have to ask why an identity bound up in meeting the needs of others is no longer perceived or experienced as satisfying. (And I agree that it isn't).

and "obvious" narcissism is often something very different when viewed within a much longer context.

If you mean that "narcissism" shouldn't simply be a slur word but we need to recognize it as bound up with some cultural ideals that have great value, then I agree. It's sort of the shadow side of the project of individual liberation. (Complicated because people aren't really best understood as individuals and can never really be free).


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 9:44 AM
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The mass of [people] lead lives of . . .

17 -- I've only heard of that attitude as a marker of pathetic self-delusion.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 9:49 AM
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One of my brothers and his wife would perpetually say how I'll understand once I'm married/have kids/achieve their life goals, which always irritated the hell out of me. I don't feel like there have been giant unanticipated surprises associated with marrying or having a kid.

In particular, they were married for the standard few years before having a kid, and were incredibly skeptical that we intentionally got pregnant before having a wedding.

I kept thinking "I didn't cease to exist between the age that you got married and the age I got married. You think everything that you got settled while married was completely worthwhile, but those years I spent single were completely worthless?"


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 9:58 AM
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The mass of people may have led lives of quiet desperation in Thoreau's time, but now, thanks to the internet, we can all be quite noisy about it!


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 9:59 AM
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26.2 Yeah, I thought it was a joke, too, because who is that stupid? But the dozens of miserable young fathers I've met in the intervening years all seem to say this without apparent irony. Most of the women I know seem to recognize the stupidity of it, but I contend it might be because we tend to have spent more time around kids of various ages before deciding to have some.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 10:00 AM
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I've read a fair amount of TLP and am still unsure what to think of her. I will say that her attitudes towards narcissism are colored by her choice of profession; therapy is a fundamentally narcissistic enterprise and if a large proportion of your interaction with the world at large occurs in that context the world will start to look lousy with puddle-gazers.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 10:03 AM
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"In other words, a lot of parents are unhappy because they imagined parenthood as a pretty picture and now have to deal with the fact that, actually, it's pretty messy."

Yup. My cue to say "Get over it and MY LAWN!"

Part of that problem is, we (generally) don't live in small villages in multigenerational homes now, with a continuous cycle of adults and children present.

Fantasy slams into realty later on, and adaptation is more difficult.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 10:18 AM
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25: There is a cultural script for motherhood, and when your identity begins to reflect that script more than it does "the true you," a loss of identity is experienced. Further, even when you fully experience your own identity as a mother, if the rest of society sees you as *only* a mother, without regard to your wholeness as a human being, then there is a loss of identity.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 10:18 AM
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My cultural script for motherhood won't compile.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 10:23 AM
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I initially read "compile" as "compost."


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 10:29 AM
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This is a funny thread to read -- my kids are visiting their grandmother for the weekend, and I'm luxuriating in the self-indulgence. I just spent an hour rowing while I watched an episode of Buffy, after sleeping late and not making breakfast for anyone except myself. (Buck doesn't eat in the mornings).

I don't find parenting particularly more onerous than anything else, but on the other hand I'm lazy and easily irritated, so I find most things fairly onerous. And I have very easy children, so I'm no real judge.

I find myself wondering if part of what drives this perception of parenting being so draining and difficult is that productivity issue -- I can't remember the proper description, but the thing that explains why education has become relatively more expensive than material goods, because technological improvements in productivity aren't easily applied to it.

Being a parent is so important in terms of letting your kids grow up sane, happy, and decent people, but any given four-hour period has no real effect on how the kids turn out -- what you do is only important on the month-by-month and year-by-year level. So each long afternoon with them feels, when it's not pure pleasure in itself which it is sometimes but not always, like drudgery that isn't having any effect, like rolling a rock uphill.

I don't mind that so much, because I feel that way about most things (breathing again? I just took a breath a couple of seconds ago!) but to someone who's used to getting things done, I could see it being differently frustrating than most other experiences.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 10:43 AM
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32: I realized while hanging out with a first-time pregnant woman this summer that if I had to put up with people talking to me the way they talked to her ("You're going to be a mother! You can't [have your unique and interesting personality and value system] anymore!"), I'd have to do some serious meditation not to punch people all the time if I were having a kid.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 10:49 AM
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I'm worried that when we have two kids, they may not always synchornize their naps and nap for as long as Hawaiian Punch currently does.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 10:54 AM
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8: So you expected to be miserable and you are?

I'd say it was more like he was looking to have kids and then he had some kids, and heaven knows he's miserable now.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 10:56 AM
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("You're going to be a mother! You can't [have your unique and interesting personality and value system] anymore!")

I didn't get anything like this. I got a lot of "Everything changes! Get ready! Life will never be the same!" but not tied to sacrificing who I am.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 10:57 AM
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39: To be fair, the person who kept saying these things most often is a deeply irritating person in general. Her comments were of the "you don't want your child to think your life is 'normal,' do you?" type.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 11:00 AM
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Her comments were of the "you don't want your child to think your life is 'normal,' do you?" type.

This is one of the things that delights me most about having kids -- that they don't know how odd we are yet. They'll figure it out eventually, but for now we're their baseline for reality.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 11:08 AM
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32: part of what I was trying to get at in 25 was that the idea of a "true you" separate from your various social scripts is sort of illusory. Or, today it has some reality, but that's only because we've gradually developed a socially defined script for the "authentic individual", the quest for the real me, etc. that people get to play out. That script has value in many ways, it's a desire for liberation and a tool for exploration, etc. But it's also shadowed by narcisissm because it's so radically individualistic. At its extreme, it becomes nothing but a demand for pure recognition by others, e.g. celebrity.

So if parenthood is not satisfying, perhaps it's not because it's a social role and hence limiting, but because the role of parent is somehow not fully or effectively supported by the set of social values we've internalized, or the broader culture, etc.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 11:09 AM
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37: Oh, you can take that to the bank. I expect you get some economies of scale (in terms of effort) with rising numbers of children, but they sure don't kick in between the first and second.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 11:15 AM
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(breathing again? I just took a breath a couple of seconds ago!)

In fairness, they *are* LizardBreaths.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 11:16 AM
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I can't remember the proper description, but the thing that explains why education has become relatively more expensive than material goods, because technological improvements in productivity aren't easily applied to it.

The Baumol Effect?

This is one of the things that delights me most about having kids -- that they don't know how odd we are yet. They'll figure it out eventually, but for now we're their baseline for reality.

Or, like my experience, their baseline for reality could be slightly off for the rest of their lives. Not that it's a bad thing.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 11:19 AM
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That's it -- I tried googling 'productivity paradox', but wasn't close enough to get something I recognized.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 11:34 AM
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The psychologists guys who study happiness (Diener, Gilbert, etc.) seem to explain why parenting is such a downer without much appeal to identity or cultural scripts at all. Mostly, they just talk about time and energy commitments.

Parenthood is serious blow to happiness, no matter how it is measured. It brings down both your hour by hour reports of your mood and your longer term evaluations of how well you are doing. But the psychologists generally describe this as coming simply from the fact that you don't have the time to do other basically pleasurable things. I remember one study reporting that the happiest a parent gets is when they are watching TV without kids interrupting them (like LB has been recently).

It isn't "oh my god, I'm not living up to my mother!" Its just, "can I get a moment's peace!"

I wish I had more time to read this stuff.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 11:39 AM
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Wait, the Baumol effect is meant to explain why teachers' salaries are so high?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 11:43 AM
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I had trouble getting through the previous comments because my youngest one had an explosive shit all over the rug that also got on his oldest brother's very special teddy bear.
On the other hand, I just got 15 minutes of laughter out of the two older ones by stacking the Uno deck so that they started the game with all Skip cards and won right out of the gate.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 11:45 AM
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49.1: Child rearing: it's a crapshoot.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 11:47 AM
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Child rears: they shoot crap.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 11:51 AM
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The psychologists guys who study happiness (Diener, Gilbert, etc.) seem to explain why parenting is such a downer without much appeal to identity or cultural scripts at all. Mostly, they just talk about time and energy commitments.

There are all kinds of activities that involve intense time and energy committments but make people happy. The difference is whether the committments make you feel valued / good / proud or not.

It isn't "oh my god, I'm not living up to my mother!" Its just, "can I get a moment's peace!"

interesting way to frame it. The way you think about what counts as "peace" vs. irritating interruption, your expectations of personal control of your time, etc. are as influenced by society and culture as anything else.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 11:56 AM
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my youngest one had an explosive shit all over the rug that also got on his oldest brother's very special teddy bear.

OK, that's objectively shitty.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 11:57 AM
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I don't mind that so much, because I feel that way about most things (breathing again? I just took a breath a couple of seconds ago!) but to someone who's used to getting things done, I could see it being differently frustrating than most other experiences.

Babies are easy compared to non-babies, I reckon, but so far I know just what you mean. I had been spending a good chunk of time mindfully going, "What exactly that is so interesting am I doing with my time right now, huh?" to myself before we reproduced, too, which was probably a useful exercise.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 12:06 PM
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52: I dunno, I think the distress we feel at the sound of children crying or the repulsion at having to clean up poo is not largely a product of culture.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 12:10 PM
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55: lots of desirable things involve at least some drudgery and distress, the question is what gets foregrounded in how we think about it.

Not going to continue because it might be getting irritating that I'm a non-parent discussing parenthood abstractly, when most people here are parents discussing it more concretely. (And ironically I'm a non-parent in part because of fear of some of the very things discussed in this thread). But two last points:

--because something is "social" or "cultural" does not mean it is more surface, easier to change, less essential than something that is "natural".

--the cultural changes around parenthood are all bound up with deep economic shifts (related to things Biohazard mentioned in 31) that make them even harder to change.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 12:28 PM
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Its just, "can I get a moment's peace!"

Given that I often feel this way about my cats (they swarm you in unison - waking up at my house consists of one sitting on your chest trying to press your mouth open with her mouth and the other purring and nibbling on your hair and running all over you - and that's just the start of the day), I occasionally think I'd be a terrible parent. I mean, cats you can kick out of bed. And ignore without feeling terrible about impeding their development or giving them neurosis.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 12:30 PM
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56.2: I'd been considering asking, impertinently, whether you were actively considering parenthood (hence your interest in the subject at this time).


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 12:40 PM
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because something is "social" or "cultural" does not mean it is more surface, easier to change, less essential than something that is "natural".

Oh I agree. I hope nothing I said depends on denying this.

The explanation I'm pushing I something I think I heard from Dan Gilbert on NPR. I think the one assumption you need to get it going is that a happy person has a lot of different kinds of activities in their lives, and if one activity pushes all the others out, only the most dedicated and obsessive people will continue to be happy.

When I put the point that way,the claim that cleaning poo and listening to children scream is inherently stressful, ceases to be a part of the argument.* The point is that any engulfing activity can be a downer.

I guess at this point you could say that expectations of diversity of experience are a recent cultural product.


____
* Although whenever I hear a baby cry, I think "millions of years of evolution went into making this a very hard sound to ignore."


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 12:42 PM
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I think it's also hard to get used to the kind of gratification you get from kids, as opposed to the kinds of gratification you might get from work or peer relationships. It's mercurial, in that the same kid who was glued lovingly to your side one second is, in the next second, singing a song about how he hates you. It's way intense, in that the loving things kids can say would, if they came from the mouths of adults, be terrifying stalker shit. It's also frighteningly mirror-like, in that you hear the kid saying all the stuff you say, and making that face that you only make when you think no one's looking. There's not that nice divide between your identity/feelings and the other person's, like there is with adults. And you can accomplish small wonderful things with kids, but unlike good work, you can't just brush your hands off and call it a day, because then it grows into some weird other thing later.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 12:50 PM
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I thought that whole narcissism analysis was too simplistic. It seems to let the culture off the hook completely for the values-shift that's occurred over the last 75 years or so. (Coinciding, not coincidently, I think, with the creation of the teenager as a category.) Who would have been spoken of, in 1930, as a "failure as a parent"? People whose children went to the gallows? People whose children suffered a mental illness? It seems to me that, as society has shifted towards everyone defining themselves as middle-class, not only have the traditional middle-class mores expanded to cover more people, but their import has expanded to cover every aspect of daily life. That is, you can't point to some outcomes, however positive, and say "see, we did alright raising that kid", but rather, every aspect of the process must be correct as well.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 1:55 PM
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56: As a parent, I was going to say much the same thing. It's exhausting, yes. But there's something about work that actually matters that other work can't compete with. The fact that you can't just brush it off and move on is a feature, not a bug. You are not alienated from the labor of parenting -- unless you do a really bad job.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 2:08 PM
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I like having kids. I think part of the "not doing other pleasurable things" might have resonated, had I not been in grad school up thru the younger's first year. Since I finished that, I have so much more time...


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 2:12 PM
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I had been spending a good chunk of time mindfully going, "What exactly that is so interesting am I doing with my time right now, huh?" to myself before we reproduced, too, which was probably a useful exercise.

I've been doing a fair amount of this, trying to figure out if I want to have kids or not. Then I start beating myself up for not doing anything interesting while I have no obligations.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 2:14 PM
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My brother-in-law was recently talking to the rest of us about his plans for his and my sister's 15-year anniversary. "We were going to go out for dinner just the two of us, but then we realized it would be so much more fun with all of the kids!" They live near both sets of grandparents and could easily have had free overnight babysitting, if they'd wanted.

I was just incredibly taken aback by the sentiment; my other sister loves and worries about her children and does have fun with them, but I think she would leap at the chance to have some uninterrupted adult time.

Somehow the first sister seems to have organized their family into a pack (with a broad, extended family network, mind you) that does most activities together. It may have something to do with the fact that she married at barely 23 and started having kids by 25 or 26. Also, she's put her career totally on hold to raise her kids. There doesn't seem to be all that many things she wants to do that she can't do with the kids along. This would very much not be the case if I ever have kids.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 2:17 PM
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One of my close friends is an ex-Mormon who describes her sister and sister's family exactly like the first sibling in 65. I thought of her before I saw Jackmormon had written the comment. No idea if there's something cultural going on or if it's just a coincidence, but still.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 2:28 PM
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65, 66: Maybe they don't want to spend time with each other. It happens.


Posted by: James Earl Carter | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 3:13 PM
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I find I'm really skeptical of studies about happiness, anyway, or maybe psychological studies more broadly. I try to imagine myself being able to do a Likert scale about a stretch of days using some homogenous, discrete, rankable idea of happiness and yeah ok, don't need to finish the sentence because my doubt has announced itself already. Add in vagaries of memory and it's a big mess. There have been periods when I was unhappy and found myself thinking "I used to be so much happier" and then realized I was just telling myself that so I wasn't thinking of my happiness as permanent.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 4:12 PM
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Are all unhappy parents more or less alike?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 4:24 PM
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Heebie: yes, two kids is sooo much more difficult than doubling the one

For me, almost everything is more enjoyable when my kids get to share it with me too.

Yet, I have spent this weekend with a child who is been alternating hitting me and giving the best hugs ever. She just cant decide what to do.

She tackled her brother in an effort to hug him. Fifteen minutes later, she was hitting him.

She was VERY proud of her fancy purple ribbon from her horse show (best one for staying in the middle) until she decided to rip it up.

As Nazerth sang, Love hurts, love scars.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 4:47 PM
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71

Watch out, Jews and lesbians! This guy is cra-a-a-azy!


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 5:32 PM
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And ignore without feeling terrible about impeding their development or giving them neurosis.

This is a pretty clear sign that you're History's Greatest Monster. Or at least the history department's greatest monster.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 8:25 PM
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"Nazerth" is halfway between Nazareth and Narberth.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 8:28 PM
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74

71 to 71.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 8:35 PM
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68 - Basically none of that matters. They don't rely on one person accurately reporting their own happiness. They rely on large groups of people not making systematic mistakes. They also don't rely on subjective comparisons of how happy you are compared to the past -- they use your report of how happy you are now. So in the stuff that helpy-chalk is talking about, they don't ask parents if they're as happy as they used to be. They compare the self-reports of parents with non-parents.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 9:29 PM
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35: but any given four-hour period* has no real effect on how the kids turn out -- what you do is only important on the month-by-month and year-by-year level.

I like this thought; in addition to being true it has the same form as, "Everyone overestimates what can get done in a year, and underestimates what can get done in a decade." which despite being a self-help platitude is one that I actually find useful to keep in mind (or remind myself of from time to time).

*In particular, says this ex youth sports coach, the triumphs, indignities, injustices or whatever else experienced in the youth sporting event going on right now are almost certainly immaterial in the long run.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-22-10 9:33 PM
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I'm late to this, but, while I didn't read the underlying NY Magazine article, the author of the "takedown" strikes me as both stupid and a dick. The attempts to undermine the article's conclusions are lame, and by "you're narcissistic" I think he just means "I'm better and more smug than you."

To 76 and 35, I'd like to believe that "any given four hours doesn't matter" is true, but I have my doubts. Often, the huge errors and screw-ups matter more than long periods of well-executed boring stasis.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 4:44 AM
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More parenthood how-not-tos.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 08-23-10 4:57 PM
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To 76 and 35, I'd like to believe that "any given four hours doesn't matter" is true, but I have my doubts. Often, the huge errors and screw-ups matter more than long periods of well-executed boring stasis.

I just saw this, but you really think so? I mean, if you're talking about death or permanent injury due to a moment of inattention, sure, but that's not a high-percentage worry: there just aren't all that many maimed children out there where it's all their parents' fault for screwing up. Barring that sort of thing, I can't think of a one-off error that I'd expect to have a major effect on my kids' life.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 9:03 AM
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79: This kind of ties back to the conversation about the degree to which/whether even something like molestation is damaging to a child. I do think that damage to kids tends to be because of long-standing problems (though of course the accidents LB mentions and single drastic violent episodes like sometimes shaken baby syndrome are exceptions) but kids for whom abuse/neglect is part of the norm are not in "well-executed boring stasis," so I admit these are somewhat different issues.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 9:48 AM
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79: Yes, I was thinking about it and the only other possible category I came up with were emotionally shattering events, but absent variants of the death and injury inattention--seeing grandma torn apart by a pack of wild dogs rather than the child themselves suffering that fate--I think most things later viewed as climatic emotional events are just that, the climax of longer dysfunctional buildups. (Or maybe events that the *parents* can't get over. Tell Johnny how he was fucked by not being chosen for the U-11 All-Star team enough times and he will begin to believe it.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 9:57 AM
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I'm not a parent myself, if just married, but looking at my parents, as well as my brothers and their families or various co-workers and such I just don't recognise all this angst about being a parent and how kids do or do not swallow up all your time and attention. Sure, they have problems and not everything worked out or works out, but there just doesn't seem to be either this idea that children will make your life worthwhile beyond belief or this overwhelming fear that you will screw up horribly...

Or perhaps everybody can just keep appearances very well.


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 08-24-10 12:59 PM
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