Over the past couple years I’ve noticed a sharp rise in the number of honest discussions that parents are having about how miserable they are as parents. And as someone watching from the sidelines, it’s hard to disagree. Parenting is by far the hardest job in the world, and it takes a certain kind of person to pull it off successfully. It also takes a certain kind of person to cultivate happiness in their own personal lives during the thick of it.
In a recent New York Times article, Jennifer Conlin confesses how miserable parenting in the United States can be when contrasted with the more laid-back approach in other countries such as France. Conlin writes that her “entire adult life revolves around the children’s activities” and that her social interactions were now limited to “sitting next to a friend at a college counseling meeting, chatting (with her) daughter’s Spanish teacher during the spring choir concert or cleaning up with another mom after (their) daughters’ end-of-season sports dinner.” A woman with young children complains about the drudgery of motherhood: “There are just So. Many. Chores.”
And men also have it rough. Even for fathers whose wives take on the majority of the hard work involving the child(ren), they admit that parenthood throws a massive wrench into romance, and makes them feel deeply neglected by their wives. “I already felt neglected” before the first baby arrived, one father of two relates. “And once we had the kid, it became so pronounced; it went from zero to negative 50. And I was like, I can deal with zero. But not negative 50.”
To get the full stories, be sure to read CNN’s editorial by Amitai Etzioni entitled “Does Having Kids Make You Less Happy?”, and you absolutely must read Jennifer Conlin’s op-ed for The New York Times entitled “The Non-Joie of Parenting”.