From Pine View Farm

Breaking: Kids Can Be Annoying 0

I’m listening to this show right now through the magic of my podplayer (listen at the link):

Being a parent does not automatically lead to happiness – in fact, a lot of research suggests the opposite is true. Many parents find they are unprepared for the hard parts – temper tantrums, demands, expenses, and – sometimes – spousal conflicts. Dr. Dan Gottlieb and his guests will discuss the effect children have on the life satisfaction of parents and how parents can work through difficulties.

This morning, the Chicago Tribune featured this column, which manages to be both amusing and disturbing as it considers some of the existential pressures on parents:

But I think the article overlooks another source of anxiety — one that has little to do with the day-to-day strains of child-rearing. Becoming a parent tunes you in to the world’s ailments in a way that few events can. Every health risk, environmental disaster, international conflict and ill-mannered, underdressed pop star suddenly becomes a specific, personal threat to your children’s well-being. That kind of clarity does a number on happiness.

These and other stories like them were sparked by a long article in New York Magazine, which explores this proposition:

From the perspective of the species, it’s perfectly unmysterious why people have children. From the perspective of the individual, however, it’s more of a mystery than one might think. Most people assume that having children will make them happier. Yet a wide variety of academic research shows that parents are not happier than their childless peers, and in many cases are less so.

In other surprising news, hurricanes tend to happen during hurricane season.

The flaw in the reasoning is assuming that

  • having children is supposed to bring “happiness” (whatever that is), that
  • “happiness” is a goal of life, and that
  • “having fun” produces happiness. (It isn’t and it doesn’t, though they overlap.) Therefore
  • rearing children must be a fun-filled goal-oriented endeavor.

Watching your kid hit a homer in Little League or play trombone while marching with precision in the university marching band can be fun, but fun and happiness are not the same thing, though they can overlap. (Furthermore, if one views rearing children as a goal-oriented endeavor, one cannot learn whether the endeavor be successful unless one outlives one’s children and sees the end, in which case the outcome will likely be considered unsatisfactory.)

The whole damn kerfuffle is a waste of time built on error. (And it’s got me wasting my time with it right now. My bad.)

God knew that kids can be annoying. That why he made sex pleasurable.

The issue isn’t feeling good, for heaven’s sake; it is doing good. The latter produces the former, not versy vicey.


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