Parents - Do you feel overwhelmed?

Since the child-free thread is going strong, I figured I'd start a thread for us poor suckers who thought that having kids was actually a good idea.

I recently read a story from prominent a gay columnist talking about how he feels sorry for all the ragged couples he sees at his high school reunions and how someone should make a "It just gets worse" video for straight teens instead of "it gets better."

Specifically how does life get better for Peter Pansies and worse for the breeders? Much of my information about this topic comes from my straight bloke pals—I call each one Doug, since it’s easier than trying to remember their real names, and most of them are actually called Doug—who have come to view the gay milieu with unapologetic envy. First on their list of gripes is SEX and the frequency thereof. “Gay men have so much sex. Why can’t we have Grindr?” wail my Dougs.

According to Dr. Debby Herbenick, research scientist at Indiana University School of Public Health, with whom I also emailed this week, gay men are def doing it more often than straights: “Across the lifespan gay men tend to have more frequent sex than male/female couples who, in turn, tend to have sex more often than lesbians,” wrote the author of Sex Made Easy, adding, “ Lesbians report higher rates of sexual touching, kidding, and cuddling than others—even with age—so that seems to get better, if you will, for them.”

What else?

It gets fitter if you’re gay, and it gets fatter if you are a Doug. No expert citations needed on this one. Just walk through a gay neighborhood.

It gets peacockier for the gays, and for the straights it gets greiger and blander. Even if a heterosexual dude develops an interest in style, he is never going to catch up with the local gay who has been into it since he was a zygote.

It gets pleasanter for gays and gnarlier for straights who, according to Dr. Debby, report lower relationship satisfaction. As one of my Dougs put it, “I feel henpecked and honey-dewed, as in ‘Honey do this and honey do that.’ ”

It gets glammer. As the gays age they adorn their abodes with increasing panache. While they are festooning their groovy pads with flamboyance and color, Mr. and Mrs. Doug are collecting Hummel figurines … or descending into a hoarder situation.

It gets richer. Straight men end up becoming an ATM for an extended network of broads and brats. Cut to: Unencumbered gays lolling and lounging in shekeltastic splendor.

It gets cuter. A Doug would never compromise his perceived masculinity with facials and body-waxing. Not so the gays.

It gets more beloved. Gay social networks—those life-saving chosen families of like-minded folk—rage throughout adult life. It’s a total reversal of the relative isolation experienced by teen gays. Who has all the buddies now

The story focuses on straights in general, but let's be honest here. Most of the stuff he's talking about has a lot more to do with having kids than being straight vs gay.

So if the P&C community is game, I'd like to talk about the trials of parenthood. I recognize there's a lot of good stuff - and certainly the indulgent parent thread is awesome. But it also seems like modern parenting seems tougher in many ways than it used to be. We have a lot more expectations than say our parents (especially dads), and a lot more worries about finding the right food, taking the right enrichment courses, etc.

So final question- do you think it gets better as a parent or is all downhill?

While I view the original linked article as another version of the ol' "Black people be like... and white people be like..." shtick that I absolutely loathe, I'll try to stick to the spirit of the thread.

I've got a six year old and for me it's been a combination of moments of greater joy than I ever thought I could experience mixed with more irritation and stress than I thought I would have to put up with as an adult. Before I had a child I always hated it when people would say "You can't understand unless you have a child." I viewed it as a statement born out of arrogance and I felt like I was being talked down to, like they thought I was simply incapable of understanding something. But now? Yeah, I get it. It caused such a fundamental change in how I viewed the world and prioritized my life there's really no way I could've wrapped my head around it before. Having a child changes you and those changes can be overwhelming.

Before having a child my daily concerns were where I was going to eat lunch and whether I would watch a movie or play a game once I got home from work. For a given year I would just have goals of saving x amount of money so I and my wife could go on this or that trip. Now that I have a kid who is in school I have to make sure he's ready to go in the morning, have everyting packed up for him, make sure I get off work in time to pick him up from the extended care program before they close, make something for supper, help him with his homework and get him in bed at a decent hour while trying to work "play" in there somehow. I also started worrying about the quality of the education in my area, who we lived around, what kind of example I was setting, what we watched on TV, eating habits... yeah, the list goes on for miles. Things I haven't thought about since I was kid are now becoming main areas of thought because it all goes back to affecting how my child will grow up and live his life.

So yeah, having a kid is overwhelming because I want the best for my son and I try to do whatever I can to make that happen. That means more stress for me, more worries, a whole lot less money and less free time for myself. For me, having a child isn't about stroking my own ego, making me more attractive or successful which is all the original article seems to be concerned with. It's about helping contribute someone to the world who will hopefully be a better person than I am. Every generation wants the next to be better than them. I also buy into the idea of the genetic need to procreation because, as I said earlier, once my son was born I changed. The depth of the love and attachment I have to my child is something I didn't even know I was capable of and it really does feel like a switch was flipped somewhere deep inside me. While being a good parent requires a lot of sacrifice I also feel like it has made me a more complete person.

And yes, I know this isn't the case for everyone and I'm only speaking from a personal perspective.

“Gay men have so much sex. Why can’t we have Grindr?” wail my Dougs.

So... your Dougs want more sex... and less kids.

I feel like a lot of the Dougs missed a talk.

That said, I can't wait to read more of this thread, as my wife has been somewhat back and forth on the topic and I'm a "let life happen to you as it happens" kind of guy and really would be ok with 1-2 kids or being child-free.

Actually Dan Savage (not sure if that is the source in the OP) had a good discussion about why straight men have trouble finding NSA sex. It turns out that the problem with straight men finding casual partners is straight men. As it is discussed in numerous other threads, many women live their lives in a guarded state, apprehensive of what mine might do. And it is a fair reputation that men have earned over the ages.

Back to the parenting bit...my wife and I adopted our son when he was 8. We had to hit the ground running but I was thankful I missed all of the potty training bit. Being a parent, paritcularly of a boy who is emotionally delayed due to early-life trauma, is a feast or famine scenario. There are moments of pure joy and moments of sheer frustration and stress. But I don't think I would trade it for anything. Those moments of joy, watching my son comprehend something, actually watching him grow as a person, make it all worth it.

Of course the biggest issue I have as a parent is the feeling of being a bit trapped. I used to work late, go out with guys after work, go to movies or out drinking whenever I wanted. As a (good) parent, you have to, of course, live for your kids first. Now I have to leave work at a specific time to pick my kid up from after-school care or summer camp. While we are lucky to get family support for child care, it is still tough being limited in the things that you can do because you can't bring your child with you. But fortunately I think I have a young geek in training, so entertaining ourselves can be fun.

I didn't have children until my 40's. I met my husband when I was 38 and we hit the ground running right after we got married when I was 41. I had my son about 10 months after our wedding. So obviously I've lived a lot of my life without kids tying me down, if you want to put it that way. Having kids and being in a good marriage with a supportive spouse keeps my life full and provides an anchor that for the most part is really satisfying, as tiring and stressful as it can often be. My older child is special needs so that increases the stress. Still, I'd much rather be in this position than not.

What I didn't like about the quote is that the author assumes that most people will be most interested in what I think are pretty self-centered and surfacey aspects of life. People differ in this, of course, but I really value the deep and intimate connection that comes with family and children. But yeah, I'm looking forward to the day when it's possible for me to train for a marathon, for example, without rocking the boat too much at home. Considering I've got a 3 year old and a 10 month old, it will be a few years.

I completely support same-sex marriage, not just because the rights married people have are significant, but because it also means that same-sex couples will also get the annoying question, "So when will you start a family?" just like everybody else. I've actually seen a couple of articles about this.

As a parent of a 4 month old, I don't have a lot of experience as a parent yet. That said, I'm not a fan of articles like this that try to compare 2 different lifestyles. You can't really say 1 route it better than the other. It might be better for a particular person, but in general it is really up to the individual (or couple) to decide which they prefer. While raising my little 4 month old is extremely hard, it is already very rewarding at times. I can't imagine going my whole life without ever having kids. Of course with that said, I can completely understand people who have no desire to have kids.

To be honest, most of those points in the OP apply just as much to remaining single and straight as much as gay and coupled up.

concentric wrote:

What I didn't like about the quote is that the author assumes that most people will be most interested in what I think are pretty self-centered and surfacey aspects of life. People differ in this, of course, but I really value the deep and intimate connection that comes with family and children.

Precisely this.

My life as a married man with no kids (although the first one is currently baking in the baby-oven), my life was more responsibility and less carefree do-whatever-the-hell-I-want than if I was single. That's not being henpecked, that's giving a f***ing damn about your spouse's wellbeing and happiness.

It's different for all of us. I've lived in a family unit all my life. I can't imagine living outside of one. Just the thought fills me with loneliness and dread. I don't want to have a life unburdened with responsibilities and obligations. It would be unbearably light.

If I didn't start my own family, I would probably still be living with my parents. We still visit them a lot. We would've liked to live in the same house, actually, but there wasn't enough room for the basics, so we had to move out. It sucks that we had to move more than walking distance away.

If I didn't have kids, I'd probably be taking care of nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles. I'd probably be house breadwinner anyway - just of a different household.

I'll let you know if I feel overwhelmed as a parent after I:

Deal with my 22-year old son who went to college for 4 years, decided what he was majoring in wasn't what he wanted to do, moved back home, and is now waiting until the last minute to enroll at a local community college and applying for financial aid.

Move my 18-year old son to college today.

Get my 16-year old son back to school on Thursday.

Get my 10-year old son back to school on Thursday.

It seems like June, July and most of August are fairly quiet then BAM, everything starts up at once.

Tkyl and Kehama raise excellent points, I'm definitely not a fan of the original article. I've seen some of my parents' friends (who are gay) not so happy, nor rich, nor aging gracefully. The same is true for heterosexual couples. Painting the world with such a black and white brush really rubs me the wrong way, but I view as completely unrealistic. I also get the feeling there are some huge stereotypes in there, I sure don't get the impression that "the teen gays have all the buddies now", I'm fairly certain the world is still full of prejudice, unfortunately.

Disclaimer, my son is only 21 months old, so I have a very limited perspective on the matter (ouch, MacBrave, hope it works out for your eldest!).

Do we feel overwhelmed at times? Yes, of course, I don't think there's a single parent out there who hasn't felt that at one point. Were there some fleeting moments in which I wondered what the heck I was doing? Obviously. I feel incredibly responsible for this little lifeform I brought into the world (sorry, guys, yes, my husband helped, but a lot of the actual bringing into the world felt like it was on me). It's sometimes very hard to deal with the stress, the tantrums, the not knowing what's going on. But the joys I have felt when holding my son, breastfeeding him, playing with him, tickling him, rocking him, singing to him... Those are some of the biggest joys I have ever felt in my life - ever.

So in the end, I get this feeling that it all balances out, that the trials are there, but that the joys and positive outweigh them. I look forward to raising my son, even though I'm nervous about a lot of things about it. I'm optimistic and I think it'll get better. Of course, chances are I won't have to plan for 60k+ a year for college. The French system does have its flaws but still... there's that...

Considering how many gay people I know who work very hard to become parents, I'm not sure this article is really taking the whole picture into account.

I was always overwhelmed. I was a single parent with four kids. It's just part and parcel of the way things work. Even before I was single I was overwhelmed. I was 22, in college, and they outnumbered us. Wellington would have called a retreat in that situation.

Does it get better? Well, I guess I'd answer back with a request to define "better". Do you mean I spend less time cleaning up spilled grape juice or other things even less appealing? Yes. They graduate to grinding skateboard bearing lubricant into your carpet and being late for curfew.

But even though we're over the big "adult" adjustment I haven't reached a point yet where there's no worry. I've got my 24 year old at home again and all the fun of his new Ms. Right Now and what his work clothes do to my washer and him dealing with his long-distance relationship with his son, my elder daughter's wedding and her car troubles and her fiance's roommate problem, my younger daughter's cat ran away and my son-in-law's job situation, my elder son's having a dental problem due to an injury to his teeth he sustained in Afghanistan and his girlfriend's new job... The list continues. And they all live close, so they're all still in and out of my house at all hours.

I'm not sure it's something to ever really expect, though. I'm not sure there ever was a time when they turned 18 and you ushered them to the door and didn't have to think about them except at holidays and maybe a weekly phone call. My mother is still worrying about me at 65, and we're at the stage where I worry about her the same way I do my kids. I imagine I'm in this for the long haul.

What I can say is that as they grow, things change so it's not just a one-way transaction. They give back. They're there with an affectionate tease or a hug or a helping hand. And even with all of them having their own grown-up things going on, they're a part of you.

These days one of my favorite things is when circumstances work so their ebb and flow combine to have them all in the house at once, talking and laughing and playing games. To me that's always been worth everything ever.

We have a 5 year old and 3 year old twins, and when meeting new people it's not unusual for them to ask "how do you do it?" But this question has never really made sense to me. As a parent, the kids needs come first, always, and you simply do your best to execute on that. There's never a thought of how to get through each day--you just do.

One aspect of having kids that's been interesting for me personally is that I'm an introvert, and so it's been interesting not having the luxury of simply not interacting with people. Between play dates, playground activity, doctors, and school the interaction I'd normally avoid is pretty much non-stop, and I've been surprised to find that I really don't mind. On the flip side, after getting the kids to bed and chores taken care of I have a few hours with my wife or to myself, and that's exactly what I want. I don't feel like I'm missing out on meeting whoever somewhere because I wouldn't have been doing that even before kids. And I'm actually excited to stay home with the kids when my wife wants to go out to do something for herself because it means a whole evening of time alone once the kids are asleep.

Everything that needs to be done when the kids are awake takes 10 times longer than it would if they weren't around, if it happens at all. Home projects sit unfinished for ages, nothing is ever clean, and getting the kids to pick up a single room (at this age) can literally take all day. Having multiple kids means they can get into exponentially more trouble, too. The other day I got out of the shower to find that the kids had found a huge serrated cake knife and cut up an entire bag of tomatoes we'd just picked and they were mixing the tomato chunks with banana chunks is a salad bowl to make the Best Meal Ever for us. And that was really fine except for the cake knife part. A lot of being a parent seems to be trying to avoid hospital visits without feeling like you're hovering.

For the rest... I didn't ever really like kids until I had my own. And even now I mostly just like my own kids plus some of their friends. But even so... my kids are awesome. In fact, I can say with conviction that my kids are the awesomest kids in the whole freaking world and if any parent wrongly thinks that their kids are the best it's just because they haven't met my kids yet. In short, I don't think it's really possible to communicate the real upside of having kids to someone who doesn't have them, kind of like how it really isn't possible to describe to someone what it's like to be in love. Sure it's often difficult and exhausting and I'm sure I'd be living large if it weren't for the kids, but I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Eleima wrote:

Tkyl and Kehama raise excellent points, I'm definitely not a fan of the original article. I've seen some of my parents' friends (who are gay) not so happy, nor rich, nor aging gracefully. The same is true for heterosexual couples. Painting the world with such a black and white brush really rubs me the wrong way, but I view as completely unrealistic.

Yeah, I'm not a fan of the article. I just ignored it and used the topic an an excuse to talk about parenting.

If you think leveling up some avatar I an MMO is rewarding, it is tenfold more rewarding to raise a child. It's hard, frustrating, and often feels like a pointless grind. But it really is the ultimate experience. And just like I could not fathom spending a dime on an MMO (or trading Valve cards, WTF?) being a parent is not for everyone.

We have just the one daughter, and it gets overwhelming. so doing this with multiple children has to be even more crazy, but maybe the reward is exponential. I don't know.

If you view parenting as something you are stuck doing, then it would be pretty horrible. But if you treat it like an adventure, you get a hell of a lot more rewarding feedback from a child. Of course, there are many children whose feedback would be better kept to themselves. There is no magic strategy for success, and some children present a much tougher difficulty than others. And of course, you don't get to choose your difficulty, that is a special surprise that reveals itself after you have the child.

But yes, we suddenly saw fewer movies, hung out at the bar with friends less, and saw out free time dominated by our child's needs. But we have always viewed this as the stuff we want to do. We signed up for this. Having Jordan was a choice we discussed for years before having a child. It's really why I don't get parents that would actually try to talk others into having kids. I can relate my positive experiences, but this is an obligation spanning decades of your life. It should be scary to embark upon, but it should be done with a sense of purpose and plan.

We just had a couple of our very best friends from Lawrence come to town. I would be ling if I did not have at least a little jealously of their freedom. They've been in a monogamous, but non-marital and child-free, relationship for 20 years. But honestly, they don't seem to any more or less happy than us. They do lament not getting to spend as much time with friends that have moved on to parenthood.

What I don't think child-free folks realize is that we have moved on into new social groups with other parents. It's not because we resent or look down on child-free folks, we just have a different lifestyle now, and other parents fit into it much better, in the same way child-free folks fit better with other child-free friends. We have plenty of friends in which we discuss not just parenting, but politics and life from a more similar perspective. Although, I think it is great to mix with child-free friends in order to keep a more realistic perspective on society.

I made a good friend in my American Lit class, a 41-year-old woman who lives with her boyfriend and enjoys that child-free lifestyle. I thin my wife would love talking to her, because they have many similar interests, so we arranged to meet them at a local brew pub they hag out with. Of course, that is not something we can do very often, and there is a risk that they may see our parental responsibilities as a terrible burden.

Mostly, I think the disconnect between child-free folks and parents as unnecessary. But I don't see parents or child-free folks as more guilty of that disconnect. I think both sides take the views of the minority of either group to show that the other side is not respected. But actually, it is the minority segment of each side that is vocal about how they are viewed that skews the perception. I think most of us all get along just fine.

Jonman wrote:

My life as a married man with no kids (although the first one is currently baking in the baby-oven)

Whaaa? Haven't been following new threads lately so if missed this elsewhere (or even if I didn't): Congrats!

As for the article, I think it's best as hyperbolic light humour, and not much good for anything else—let alone insight. Concentric and Momgamer brought up the salient criticisms.

Since it has no substance, it's not worth addressing. But personally I will at least add that in terms of selfishness, which is how the article stupidly frames being a parent, I don't even have any complaints there. I'm an introvert with few friends, so my idea of free time well-spent is at home with my wife, a game, or a book, or some combination thereof; my idea of a party is a friend over for some board games. It's pretty compatible with being a new dad (at least once we got her sleep-trained). Plus I can't wait for when my daughter is ready for Lego.

In any case, she's 13-months-old, so there's not much else I can add that hasn't already been mentioned. Paternal switch flipped; previously unknown depths of joy, anxiety, and sleep deprivation, plumbed; can't imagine life without her, don't miss life before her.

complexmath wrote:

In fact, I can say with conviction that my kids are the awesomest kids in the whole freaking world and if any parent wrongly thinks that their kids are the best it's just because they haven't met my kids yet.

I agree in principle.

Mrs. Gravey: "Do you think other parents see our baby and think she's cuter than their own kid?"
Me: "No, I think we're all wired to believe our own kids are the cutest."
Mrs. Gravey: "I think they do realize it, but won't say it."

One is a Type 1 diabetic, one is autism spectrum, the third is likely there as well. We homeschool. My father-in-law lives with us for health reasons (Type 1 diabetic as well). Hell yeah we feel overwhelmed. That comes with being a parent anyway.

I think of parenting as a marathon. As much as possible consistency, calm, and a steady pace count a lot toward getting to where you're hoping to go. You're going to lose it sometimes in one or more of those areas, but being focused on a longer view of things helps.

From a lot of discussion on the subject, I also like the idea of parenting as something which evolves like this as children get older:

Nurture -> Discipline -> Training -> Coaching -> Friendship

There's always a mixture of those in there, but one of them is going to be most effective at any time during a child's development. The list helps me to put things in perspective as I consider the best ways to deal with my kids. Some examples: Our oldest is moving from the time when training her is effective to where we need to coach her more instead. Discipline is definitely not going to work so well as she becomes a teenager. Whatever she has from us so far on that front, she'll need to combine with her training as we coach her. Meanwhile, our youngest is moving from the time when discipline is most effective to when training is going to be more effective for him.

It's damn difficult, but we had a decent idea of what we were getting into both from genetics and parenting in general. This is what we wanted, and it's a life I wouldn't trade for any other.

Most of the time.

Overwhelmed doesn't come close to covering it. If we had a normal 2 year old child raising experience, I'd probably be a bit down about my inability to balance adequate sleep and getting a small amount of free time for myself. The rewards of being a parent would far outweigh this.

However, our child has autism. Classic autism, with a trajectory that currently looks like he's heading toward the low-functioning side of things. He's still young, and maybe, just maybe, after spending tens of thousands of dollars on intensive therapy, things might turn around. He might develop significant language and be able to function independently. The uncertainty and anxiety is a constant, sapping presence and our marriage is suffering a bit from the strain. So, umm, yeah.... Maybe I should head over to the depression thread now.

gewy: I mentioned my son was special needs above, but I didn't mention that it's likely autism. He's 3. We are going to see about a diagnosis Friday. This has been really difficult for us, but things have been improving. A few things that have helped us: Early Access for my son, continuing therapies e.g. speech and occupational, and for me Andrew Solomon's book Far From the Tree. I deal with anxiety anyway, and this has certainly added to it. But still, even though life is not perfect, like I say, it has been improving. What kinds of resources do you have available? I'm in Iowa, so I don't know much about local resources in Alabama, but I would guess that somewhere in your area is an ARC that would have advice. Children with autism also qualify for Medicaid and some other federally provided benefits. Please PM - whatever help/support I could provide. I don't know where you are in all this, so this may not be new information to you, but I do want you to know that you and your family are not alone.

One of my close coworker's kids has autism. They were lucky to identify it very early and that's helped a ton, and a lot of the rest was learning his triggers and how to interact with him properly. And yeah, help is expensive. He lucked out somewhat in that Stanford took an interest in his case, but even with that he's spent a ton out of pocket because insurance coverage for this sort of thing is typically pretty terrible. But his kid is older and in school and their son's needs is just another detail of their normal family life. It really does get better.

That aside, you and your wife need to sort out time for the two of you to be together, awake, and not dealing with chores or kid stuff. Schedule get busy time (seriously, like on the calendar), date nights at home after the kid is in bed (someone can be cooking a fancy dinner while the other does bedtime or whatever), and look really hard to find someone willing to initially help out while you're home with the child and once they're comfortable together, staying there past bedtime to let the two of you get out for a while, and eventually even when the kid is awake. Retaining that sense of intimacy in the face of adversity is one of the hardest aspects of long-term relationships, and it requires deliberate effort to achieve. It's absolutely not selfish to want that time together either. Kids are all extremely sensitive to the demeanor of their care-givers, and special needs kids in particular, so if you two are happy together the kid will be happier as well.

Thanks for the suggestions and offers of support. I don't want to derail the thread so I just updated the autism thread I made here. Suffice it to say, raising a child is difficult in itself, but when something goes wrong, the level of stress becomes even more overwhelming. Sometimes I wonder why people subject themselves to it!

I have most of the same issues with the article that others have. It compares two different lifestyles that have different values and priorities.

jdzappa wrote:

It gets fitter if you’re gay, and it gets fatter if you are a Doug. No expert citations needed on this one. Just walk through a gay neighborhood.

I don't see this. Two married gay men live across the street from me. They're in their late 40's. Physically they don't look any different from the heterosexual guys I know of the same age. They have guts and zero muscle tone. Slightly overweight.

jdzappa wrote:

It gets peacockier for the gays, and for the straights it gets greiger and blander. Even if a heterosexual dude develops an interest in style, he is never going to catch up with the local gay who has been into it since he was a zygote.

First, I'd be willing to bet that most Dougs really don't care about fashion. Personally speaking, I'm conscious of what I wear and I like nice clothes however since having kids my disposable income for clothes has plummeted. Does that mean I don't know what's "in"? No. It just means I don't care enough for it to consume me. Plus, part of the whole draw of looking impeccable was to draw the interest of females. Something I don't concern myself with anymore since getting married.

jdzappa wrote:

It gets pleasanter for gays and gnarlier for straights who, according to Dr. Debby, report lower relationship satisfaction. As one of my Dougs put it, “I feel henpecked and honey-dewed, as in ‘Honey do this and honey do that.’ ”

First, author can die in a fire for saying "pleasanter".

Second, I don't feel henpecked by wifey however when you add kids to the equation, especially in years 1-5 or so, it's not easy to give each other the level of attention as before the kids. Sometimes my wife and I feel like the proverbial "two ships passing in the night". I am completely sure that once the kids get past kindergarten that my wife and I will start gravitating back to more quality time with each other. So this comparison probably could have worked for single heterosexual guys in their 20's or married guys without kids versus "Dougs".

jdzappa wrote:

It gets glammer. As the gays age they adorn their abodes with increasing panache. While they are festooning their groovy pads with flamboyance and color, Mr. and Mrs. Doug are collecting Hummel figurines … or descending into a hoarder situation.

Now that author is burning to death from using "pleasanter", I am not going to pee on him to put the fire out for using "glammer".

This whole point is superficial. If you define worth by how much "stuff" you have then this will mean something to you. However if you define wealth by the closeness of your family, I think most Dougs would find that as more valuable. On the flip side, if everything suddenly became worthless would Dougs be a lot happier in an empty room with their family than gays who no longer have their "stuff"? I think so. Value in things not readily purchased with dollars...or bones or clams or whatever you call them.

jdzappa wrote:

It gets richer. Straight men end up becoming an ATM for an extended network of broads and brats. Cut to: Unencumbered gays lolling and lounging in shekeltastic splendor.

Again, priorities. I'm happier now with 2 wonderful kids and a wife despite having far, far less disposable income than I was in my 20's with more cash than I knew what to do with, riding all over on my motorcycle, staying someplace new for days at a time, and having fun with girls whose names I forgot the following week. Sure that was more fun but kids are more rewarding.

jdzappa wrote:

It gets cuter. A Doug would never compromise his perceived masculinity with facials and body-waxing. Not so the gays.

Again, difference in the definition of cute. This perception of cute conjures up images of a prepubescent, hairless Swedish teen boy. My wife would leave me if I waxed every hair off my body. It's precisely the rugged masculinity that attracts women. Why would heterosexual men want to wax and become hairless if they're trying to attract women? Just the thought of being completely smooth and hairless and lotioned up would make my wife vomit.

jdzappa wrote:

It gets more beloved. Gay social networks—those life-saving chosen families of like-minded folk—rage throughout adult life. It’s a total reversal of the relative isolation experienced by teen gays. Who has all the buddies now

I don't see this either. Those gay guys across the street don't have very many visitors. The majority of our neighbors are 30's - 50's couples with kids. Who do they interact with more? Us - the 30 something couple with kids.

jdzappa wrote:

So final question- do you think it gets better as a parent or is all downhill?

Every day gets better. I often tell my wife that if kids can come out of the womb at 5-years old, everything would be great. The tough years are 0-5 since you have to be "on" 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It's exhausting and frustrating but also very rewarding as you see the little creatures you spawned developing their own personalities, likes/dislikes, etc.

However, if I had to do it again...had the choice to have kids knowing what I know now (except not knowing that I would have my son Émile and daughter Maya), I would choose not to have kids. I don't think I was built to be a parent as it doesn't come natural to me and I had a lot of work to do, however I think I've become a good parent. Maybe there's some truth to the saying, "Parents aren't born, they're made." It's the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my life but it's also by far the most rewarding.

Thanks for all the replies. The OP article wasn't meant to be taken 100 percent seriously, but it did get me thinking about a lot of things. Parts of it rang very true for a guy with pre-schoolers - the perpetually messy house where the only new furniture is from Ikea, not having enough money for travel or better clothes, gaining weight, lack of se... well I'm not going to touch that one but let's just say I'm in the same boat as nearly all my young father buddies. I recognize some of this is on me, but it's extremely hard to find enough time to get to the gym between crazy work hours and trying to have enough time for the kiddos.

Also, the one thing I've noticed about parenthood in America is you're never allowed to occasionally talk about how much it can suck. In the Army, it was matter of course that you were going to bitch about the mission and conditions, just as long as you got up and charged the hill with gusto when you were told to. The guys who were always saying "I love the Army!! HOOAHH!!" we saw as either dumb as rocks lifers or brain damaged. In my parenting circle, it seems the opposite is true - if you're not going "I love parenting!! It's perfect!!! HOOAAH!!" constantly people start to wonder if you love your kids. It's incredibly annoying.

At any rate, I'm hoping I'm coming off as commiserating less than whining because that wasn't my case. My kid has the Irish red-head temper and a touch of ADHD, but he's not autistic. And I'm not raising him as a widower like my dad had to do. I recognize I'm very lucky, so if I'm coming across as a whiner I'll STFU.

You aren't coming across as a whiner. Even in the best of all possible circumstances being a parent will be overwhelming at times. Some people have different challenges than others. No one's 'normal' is the same as anyone else's. That's life. Regardless, it's good to have a place where you can share.

For parents with kids who have special needs, including autism, I recommend looking to see if you have socialization therapy groups in your area. While my son doesn't have autism, he is emotionally delaye due to early childhood trauma suffered under his birth family (the bastards).

We attend a weekly group called Prompt & Play (located in northern Delaware). Their mission statement is:
Prompt & Play provides a safe place for children and young adults to develop social and daily living skills though exploration and direction. We utilize various therapeutic and social modalities to increase environmental awareness, positive social interactions, and promote overall happiness. Our programs are based on the theory of positive reinforcement paired with follow through and consistency.

They are not a chain, but there may be other agencies like this out there. I think my son has really benefited from attending the weekly sessions. I'd suggest checking it out.

Mrs. Gravey: "Do you think other parents see our baby and think she's cuter than their own kid?"
Me: "No, I think we're all wired to believe our own kids are the cutest."
Mrs. Gravey: "I think they do realize it, but won't say it."

I quoted this to my wife, and she laughed, mostly because she's pretty sure she'd say the exact same thing as your wife.

Nevin73 wrote:

For parents with kids who have special needs, including autism, I recommend looking to see if you have socialization therapy groups in your area. While my son doesn't have autism, he is emotionally delaye due to early childhood trauma suffered under his birth family (the bastards).

We attend a weekly group called Prompt & Play (located in northern Delaware). Their mission statement is:
Prompt & Play provides a safe place for children and young adults to develop social and daily living skills though exploration and direction. We utilize various therapeutic and social modalities to increase environmental awareness, positive social interactions, and promote overall happiness. Our programs are based on the theory of positive reinforcement paired with follow through and consistency.

They are not a chain, but there may be other agencies like this out there. I think my son has really benefited from attending the weekly sessions. I'd suggest checking it out.

Our oldest attended a similar group through UNC and it made a night and day difference for her! She's does well in new social situations now, has a ton of friends that she communicates with regularly, and is generally a lot more comfortable with being herself.

I've been reading "Gentle Measures In The Management And Training Of The Young" by Jacob Abbott. It's interesting. I found this a good takeaway:

"We are apt to imagine that the disposition to do right is, or ought to be, the natural and normal condition of childhood, and that doing wrong is something unnatural and exceptional with children. As a consequence, when they do right we think there is nothing to be said. That is, or ought to be, a matter of course. It is only when they do wrong that we notice their conduct, and then, of course, with censure and reproaches. Thus our discipline consists mainly, not in gently leading and encouraging them in the right way, but in deterring them, by fault-finding and punishment, from going wrong.

Now we ought not to forget that in respect to moral conduct as well as to mental attainments children know nothing when they come into the world, but have every thing to learn, either from the instructions or from the example of those around them."

I think that's an excellent point, LarryC. I always try to give positive feedback as well as negative. Tell him when he's done something right or well. It's all too easy to forget that everything is new to them.

I think it cuts lower, still. The key word for me here is "instruction." This hits close to home for me because while my mother was an otherwise excellent parent and teacher, I recall her often expecting me to know how to do something that must seem stupidly obvious to her. For instance, she once handed me a broom and told me to sweep, despite me never having done it before. I didn't know what to do with the thing, and my incompetence infuriated her.

It is not to her credit, but the phrase I most recall from my childhood was, "How can you be so smart, and yet be so stupid?!?" I remember because it hurt me every time she said it. But good comes of it. At any rate, I do not, myself, assume or expect competence from my children in anything, and especially not before I've given them instructions, coaching, and practice.

You gotta actually code the software before you look for bugs.

I finished "The Rules of Parenting" by Richard Templar last month. It's a series of "rules" or guidelines for parenting. It's by a Westerner and it cleaves closely to what Jacob Abbott says. This seems not to be so much "progressive, touchy feely" parenting, as a traditional approach. It certainly agrees very well with me and the advice I get from my family.

One thing I don't agree with in these books is corporal punishment. I've always reserved the right to do it, but I find that the only time I had to use it was to curb my younger daughter's violent ways. She was prone to hitting people despite every reasoning and reminder, so at the last, I took her to task for a hit by hitting her myself - and then asking her if it was okay. She was only four at that time, but she took the object lesson to heart. She knows what it's like to be hit now, so she never does it anymore.

Of value to this thread is Templar's Rules for Staying Sane:

You're allowed to hide from your kids.
Don't ignore your relationship with your partner.

Sibling Rules:

Give them each other.
Squabbling is healthy (up to a point).

Discipline Rules:

If you lose your temper, you're the loser.

Templar establishes the important point that as a child's parent, you are their template. You are their first, most influential, and usually final teacher. As we say in our culture, "The apple (fruit, really) doesn't fall far from the tree." Our modeling of what the kids see as a "normal person" codes the kids' mental software; storing our every move and mannerism as templates for survival and behavior.

What this means is that you can't NOT do your job as a parent. Simply by existing, you're doing it. The question you want to answer is, "Am I coding this person right?" Whatever we do and however we do them, it goes into the code. Our children are like our "permanent record" as people.

I often advise my peers and relative not to have singleton kids. The reason I give this advice is because I do not want to play with a child nonstop every time I'm at home. Children need playmates to develop vital interpersonal skills and empathy. We can sub for that in a way, but ultimately, having close peers has no replacement. Indeed, my personal feeling is that two is not enough, but as I cannot support more, we do our best by letting the neighbor kids over as often as possible as well as visiting with cousins and second cousins. Of interest to this thread - supervising children playing kids' games on their own is easier than actually playing Candyland with the same kid for the 100th time in a row.

Being forced to interact with peers also teaches children empathy and how to resolve conflicts - vital skills to navigate the adult world. That said, I view quarrels and squabbling not as annoying breaks, but as teaching moments - incidents in which the kids can practice methods for defusing conflict, or discover ways of settling on their own. Eventually, you want for them to be able to resolve these things on their own, but very young kids may need to be instructed closely on how to do so.

Negative training simply does not work for dogs and other intelligent animals. For example, the US military switched to entirely positive training methods for animals back in the 90's.

Why would we think negative training works for humans?

Robear wrote:

Negative training simply does not work for dogs and other intelligent animals. For example, the US military switched to entirely positive training methods for animals back in the 90's.

Why would we think negative training works for humans?

Rationality? High-level cognition?

Why would you think that what holds true for dogs maps to humans?