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Being a parent - Would you recommend it?(93 Posts)
Not a parent yet.
I've seen several threads of parents struggling and being miserable.
I'm looking to hear the other side of things.
Has it overall been a positive experience for you?
Has it changed your life for the best and how?
Parenting is (honestly) the best of times and the worst of times.
I don't regret for one second becoming a parent. It brings me joy, stress, anxiety, laughs. All the feels.
I completely understand why someone would choose to remain child free.
Well I love and adore my son because he is him that is all i can to say really as although he may be perfect i can't think of positives about being a parent itself, hard to word really
I would say only do it if you REALLY want to, and are in a position to provide a good life for a child.
You lose your freedom completely for quite a few years, your life is not your own. I think this is something people aren’t always prepared for. They think of squishy little babies or compliant older children. Not the drudgery and daily grind, the tantrums, the moaning, the sleep deprivation.
A lot of people see exhausted, stressed parents and think ‘well when I have kids it won’t be like that, I’ll be a calm, engaged, wonderful parent’ then they have their own children and realise ‘Oh....that’s why those parents were like that’.
It’s HARD. It can be wonderful and rewarding, watching them grow and develop but there is a hell of a lot of drudgery and stress too.
Not being negative, just realistic.
I love being a parent. The early years are hard (sleep deprivation, toddler tantrums etc) but ever since they turned 5 (eldest is nearly 15 now) it's been good. I love chatting to them, hugs, seeing them grow and develop, reading to them, watching a film together, doing active stuff (eg we all went to Go Ape last month) to name a few.
It's an essentially pointless question, OP. It is the ultimate 'common but indescribable and personal to each individual' question.
I had one child by choice when I was about to turn 40, well-established in my field, financially comfortable and able to work very flexibly, with a husband I'd been with for over two decades who was as committed to the day to day stuff of parenting as I was. I'm much as I was before these days, but with someone new and fabulous in my life, though I found the small baby stage miserable.
Not that there haven't been changes -- I'm a rolling stone who has moved around the world a lot, but we've just moved countries with DS (primary school age) and are looking at staying in this country for at least several years to let him feel settled. I think having a child has made me think more carefully about where and how to live, as I can no longer decide 'Bored now' and move on again.
But you would get a different answer on how much things have changed from someone who felt forced to become a SAHM, had a large number of children on a limited income, was considerably poorer, perhaps considerably younger, was a single parent and/or had a child with a disability. Or different again from someone who was never particularly interested in a career and always felt drawn to motherhood.
Honestly, OP, nothing anyone told me about having a child before I had DS has in any way resembled my experience of parenthood.
Agree with PP, you end up losing your life for a while.
I have 2 ds, they are 7 and 1.
When ds1 was about 3, everything got easier, the baby years were over and we were acing life, even with me working FT and dp working away from home.
Everything was so great we decided to have another and it's been a huge shock to go back to the baby years again. Your life revolves around the babys feeding and naps.
You have to always put their needs first which is really hard. If you have a bad migraine or a vomiting bug, the kids still need to be fed, dressed, into school etc.
I absolutely love them and am glad I have them but can definitely 100% say there will be no more from me!
@PuppyPowerPowder I often follow threads like this with interest, as I'm mid 30's, and, like OP I'm undecided on whether to have children. I've probably read about 20 threads like this over the past year, and I just wanted to say that your response is probably the best I've ever seen! Totally agree with everything you say. What I've learnt is that parenthood is an entirely individual experience based on your circumstances and the child you end up with. Such a lottery.
It depends on the person who is asking me TBH. There are people I know who would be fantastic parents, rise to the challenge etc. There are also people who I know are too self centered (not in a negative way I will add) to have children. I would put myself in the latter category to be honest, I wasn't anywhere near prepared for just how selfless I need to be as a parent.
I am honest when people ask. There are positives and there are negatives. I also think it depends on what age the DC are. The early years were a bloody hard slog. The last year has been the most rewarding. I'm expecting the teenage years to be difficult.
I'm glad it was useful, @DoTheHotStuff! I had never planned to have children, DP wasn't interested either, and then in our very late thirties, we had a conversation and decided (mostly out of curiosity, I will admit!) to try to conceive, but we were entirely OK with the fact that, given my age, it might never happen at all, and felt sure we would continue to be happy without a child. I conceived, to both of our total shock, the first month.
But it is entirely true that nothing I had ever read, heard or seen about parenthood in any way approximates my experience of it. Which makes sense -- I am the sum of my own experiences, and I have my own individual child, and my own individual marriage, career etc -- so there's no generic way of being a parent, any more than there is a generic experience of being married, or having a parent, or being a person of whatever nationality or sex.
I'm delighted I had DS, who is fabulous, but I feel sure we would have continued to be happy without having him, and that the good life without children we had for over 20 years of adulthood would have continued good. I certainly never felt my monochrome life exploded into technicolour or anything.
I'll tell you one thing, though -- having a child is a hell of a lot more interesting from the inside than it looks from the outside, in my experience. What is visible is the gruntwork -- nappies, homework, school pick ups -- but the actual experience of having made and raising a person, even when it's hard, is terribly interesting. I don't think people say that enough, perhaps. I think I had a child to see if it was interesting. Luckily, it was...
Good luck with your decision, whatever you decide.
I love being a parent.
But then I have not allowed my child to change my life and he simply has gone with the flow of mine, + we are financially able to have lots of help so I don't feel snowed under by anything.
I'm never sure what to say when people ask 'do you enjoy being a mother?' Noone ever asks if I enjoy being a sister, or a wife, or a daughter. It's just relational - something that I happen to be to someone.
Like others have said, I could have continued having a wonderful and fulfilling life without a child. I still have a fulfilling life, but with an additional person in my family.
I think this modern(Western) phenomenon of reifying motherhood is a bit unhealthy in lots of ways. It puts women under a lot of pressure to feel a certain way, when in reality having a newborn baby is actually really crap (or it was for me).
So on balance I'm glad we had her, but I would also have been perfectly happy without.
Only if you have the right person to co-parent with. Sheryl Sandberg (terrifyingly successful Facebook exec) said the most important decision we ever make is who we choose to father our children, and Mumsnet certainly bears this out.
To be fair, when I suddenly wanted children it was a physical/visceral thing - it was never a question of choosing, something in me chose for me.
Thank you for your comments, it's very interesting reading through them. @PuppyPowerPowder I appreciate noone's experience can prepare me, you're very right.
Still, I wanted to hear other people's accounts. I am often inside my own head overthinking everything. Most of the conversations I've had with parents were about their struggles. I needed to hear about the positive aspects of parenthood. It being interesting, as you said, is a good one.
They think of squishy little babies or compliant older children. Not the drudgery and daily grind, the tantrums, the moaning, the sleep deprivation.
I am quite the opposite, only thinking of the latter lately.
The thing is, nobody really questions why you have kids. It's seen as the norm. Everyone and their aunt questions you when you decide you want to remain childfree. Which then makes you question yourself (sometimes).
It's also possible that the reason we don't regret having kids is because it's taboo. It's not possible to send them back, it's a done deal. And whilst they are loved more than they will ever know, I do sometimes wonder what my life would have been like if I didn't want kids at all.
I'd probably be more judgemental. Having lids has definetly made me more empathetic and understanding overall.
It's a total way of life and there is no going back from it. It is a relentless prison. And also the most wonderful and loving experience. You make new humans!!!!
I don't think we talk enough about how choosing to NOT be a parent is a totally valid option.
Not to anyone remotely unsure about doing it
I think the main thing is No you can,t have it all. (Or not for the majority.) A lot of the time something has to give. You can,t work full time, and be there for end of school, and do the extra curiculer activities, and be on top of all the house work, and do home cooked meals and interesting packed lunches. For the majority of us something has to give.
I have loved being a parent (adult children by now). It's been fun, it's been interesting, it's been challenging, and the hard work has been a big part of what's made it feel worthwhile. Looking back at what you've lived through and what you coped with and being able to laugh about it.
But would I recommend it? As others have been saying, it's such an individual thing.
I have also loved being married. But of course I can't go and tell everyone they'll be happy if they get married- because it won't be my marriage and they won't be me.
I love my career (despite the undeniably shitty bits). But I don't automatically assume it's right for everybody.
I am actually in a career where it is quite common for women to choose not to have children. My mentors during my early career, the women I admired and wanted to be like, did not as a rule have children. I could probably have been one of them and still found a lot of fulfilment in my work. But I always knew I wanted to have the experience of bringing up children, I had seen a lot of it as the sibling of younger children and later as an aunt, and I thought this would be something I would find interesting and be good at. It felt like a very active, positive choice. And frankly, I don't think I have ever regretted it or believed I would make a different choice if I could go back in time.
My only regret is that I did not know that I was a carrier of a genetic disorder which has caused my child chronic pain. If I had known, then I might have considered adoption.
I'm a planner and managed to fulfil certain things I thought would be important:
marry a high earning, egalitarian man so both have primary careers
Have children at equal intervals so a bit of a 'team' dynamic (3 in 4yr) so they are friends together and have shared exp (easier for us to manage)
Moved to London so lots of childcare options we use. Au pair, nurseries, lodgers paid to babysit, weekend babysitters if we want a break
But even with all the planning certain (big!) things have gone wrong that effect day to day life.
DH parents re-married and none offer any childcare or assistance with anything at all. Upsetting when retired 60 and fit;
My parents dad autistic mum mentally ill cauded years of drama and now NC with her. V upsetting at 'family' times of year eg Xmas;
My health during and after pregnancy. Had pre eclampsia 3 times, thyroid went, huge weight gain, still 2st overweight and now lipoedema. All hormone- related. I was 'perfect' at 26 when I started. Affects my energy, my mood, self esteem. If I'd have known and stopped at one child may have avoided it all.
.. but life's a lottery isn't it ? I think childbirth and being a mother does make women very vulnerable for all kinds of reasons. So I'd always say make sure you're well educated and have as well paid job as possible before you start having children.
Good luck !
Agree it's so individual, my child has changed me fundamentally in ways I never thought possible, I wasn't prepared for how much I would give up for her and willingly so. That doesn't make much sense I know!
Only do it if you really want to. Don't do it just because you feel you should. It can be challenging and relentless at times but also there are times of absolute perfection. I have a couple of friends that had kids because they were approaching 40 and felt they should have kids, they really struggle to find the joy in parenting
Nope. I love my children more than I could put in to words but my god it's hard. Really fucking hard. There's not much that I enjoy. Although I suppose we've probably had a harder time of it than some parents, we have one with additional needs and one with sleep issues so far from 'easy'
I didn't really want to be a parent until about 36 and then suddenly I did. It is absolutely the best thing I've ever done, I truly love it because my daughter is amazing. She is 9 months so people may say too soon to judge but I live all of it even when I don't sleep and I'm covered in baby sick because she is truly delightful.
I cannot describe it really - except to say I wouldn't change a thing
I love having kids. I think the thing with your OWN children, is that you get the joy of seeing them grow and develop and become these proper little people from a tiny, squishy newborn and it's lovely to watch! You also love your children so much. It's not just love. It's this fiercely protective instinct along with pride and a totally unconditional loyalty and kindness. It's a totally one-sided relationship at first because you keep your babies alive and cared for but get very little in return! But then as they get bigger and more aware of their world, you become their absolute favourite person and honestly nothing can describe the joy I get from seeing my kids smile at me and call for me and want to show me things important to them because I'm important to them. I honestly wouldn't change my life for the world now. Of course being a parent comes with its own hardships and challenges but for me it's totally worth it!
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