Parenting does not suck. It’s just that some people suck at life.

Slate’s Ruth Graham recently wrote a piece entitled “My Life is a Walking Nightmare.” Why Do Parents Make Parenting Sound So God-Awful?

Graham does not have children but experiences the constant stream of whiny negativity from her parent friends on a daily basis.

My Facebook feed is an endless stream of blog posts and status updates depicting the messy, tedious, nightmarishly life-destroying aspects of parenting. I’ve gawked at “15 Unbelievable Messes Made by Kids,” “All the Birth Control You’ve Ever Needed in Six Pictures of Ponytails” (which appeared on a blog called Rage Against the Minivan), and this uterus-shriveling poston how “You will not get anything done when you are home with a baby.” There’s this one on how you’ll give up on your values, your body, your style, and your hygiene after you have kids. There’s that British comedian’s stand-up routine, which has been viewed more than 4,700,000 times on YouTube, about how even leaving the house is a miserable odyssey of screaming and fighting.

I’ve never understood these people. I’ve always found the incessant whining and persistent warnings about parenthood to be a sign of a person who sucks at life and wants others to feel the same.

Or perhaps the sign of a pie-in-the-sky parents who thought babies came straight out of the womb potty trained and ready for kindergarten.

Or maybe parents whose upper middle class lives have been so free of strife or turmoil that even a stuffed puppy could’ve upset the apple cart for them.

Either way, I encourage the childless like Ruth Graham and the expectant parents to ignore these whiners and complainers.

Even better, tell them to shut up. Tell them to go whine to a wall. Tell them to go home and never leave the house again. There’s no need to ruin a pregnant mother’s day with your inability to find happiness in the company of your child.

A couple years ago, I wrote a piece entitled “Raising my daughter is a piece of cake, and there’s a good reason why I say this as often as possible” in response to this negativity. Our daughter was three years-old and my wife was pregnant with our second child. Two years later, everything that I wrote is still true, despite such witticisms as “One plus one doesn’t equal two when it comes to kids!”

Last year I wrote a piece entitled My children absolutely adore each other. If you feel the need to tell me it won’t last forever, shut the hell up. It was in response to the idiots who saw photos of my children playing together and said things like “You just wait. Things will change between the two of them,” and “Just wait until he can walk and talk. Then all that love will be out the window.”

Imagine how much you must hate yourself to say something like that to a proud father.

If you’re like Ruth Graham and hearing this kind of nonsense or reading it on social media, turn away. Read my posts instead.

Believe them. Embrace them.

Parenting is not easy. It’s glorious.

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6 Responses to Parenting does not suck. It’s just that some people suck at life.

  1. EB says:

    There is a fair amount of psychological data that suggests that on average people are the least happy during the years that they have kids.

    • matthew says:

      I’ve read some of it. It was a feature in The Atlantic last year and covered in The New Yorker and other places.

      There’s also a fair amount of research that says that men tend to be happier than women at all stages of life, too.

      In typical Matthew Dicks fashion, I guess I would advise to avoid being average.

      • matthew says:

        I also wonder if the unhappiness that parents experience is related to expectations. Perhaps a more realistic view of parenting would yield a happier person. I think there is a lot of pie-in-the-sky pre-parenting beliefs in a lot of people. Reality is always an unhappy realm if you aren’t aware of its reality.

  2. Lucy says:

    EB, it’s probably because of all the negativity they get from other people.

    Parents put so much pressure on themselves to be perfect, have perfect kids, perfectly clean houses and such. It’s not practical.

    I was a nanny for 9 months and in that time, did I ever come across a parent who was perfect?

    No.

    And when you’re going to parks and other people’s houses and mum gatherings, you meet a lot of parents.

    But in that time, the parents who were HAPPIEST with being parents, were the ones who didn’t worry about that handprint on the wall, or the burst packet of rice, or the orange stain on their expensive sofa.

    The ones, in short, who put their kids first.

    When you shout at your child because they were sick on your suede shoes, or complain about them to other people, that’s sending a message to that poor child that you don’t love them as much as those shoes. And that message will negatively impact your lives.

    Yes kids mean you have to take more time zipping up coats and finding shoes, but if you allow for that, communicate well and listen, you’ll be happier. And, more importantly, so will they!

    In my 9 months of being a nanny, I never once had to deal with a temper tantrum. Not because the children were angels, but because I didn’t treat them like devils.

    I totally agree with your approach, Matthew.

  3. A.J. says:

    Thank you. I hate the “just wait until X” people.

    I’ve got enough of my own worries about parenting without someone telling me that I will never sleep again, that my life will be filled with vomit, or that I will never finish my next novel once our son arrives.
    Interestingly, the people who deal out these horror stories are usually the ones who gave us a hard time for not having kids.

    Honestly, though, I doubt these comments have very little to do with me personally. I think that by complaining about their lives with children these people are proving something to themselves: that they’ve earned some sort of invisible gold star for putting up with the demands of parenting, which sets them above the rest of humanity. It’s ridiculous, but people are insecure in all kinds of ways.

  4. A.J. says:

    Please excuse my bad grammar in the above comment. What I meant was “these comments have nothing to do with me personally.”

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