Archive for the 'Delusions of parenting' Category

Kids: Asset or liability?

March 22, 2011

Andrew Hicks

I read an article on today about an academic study that, in essence, concluded that people who claim they’re happier with kids than they’d be without kids are mothereffin’ liars. These parents are lying to themselves and everyone else as a form of delusional self-justification, because kids are an economic and emotional drain, according to the researchers.

And, yeah, there’s some basis to the argument. Most of the time in this blog, I present nothing but the positives. Sarah and I played outside, she said something cute, then she did exactly what I told her. Silas ate his entire jar of baby food, sat on the floor and laughed, then he went to sleep early. There are entire days where the act of being daddy seems easy, natural and wholly rewarding.

On the other hand, there are days where I feel overwhelmed and a little resentful of these new demands that never go away. Perhaps I’m in a bad mood because I was up late with a crying baby. Or because Sarah threw her breakfast on the floor. Or because there are entire weeks I don’t leave the bounds of my front and back yard. Or because I no longer get to spend my money and time exclusively on myself, like I’d gotten to used to after years of being single.

I tend to downplay any feelings I have of losing individual freedom. I still get my free time. Not in the ridiculous, unappreciated abundance I had in my twenties. But that makes it sweeter when it comes, mostly unscheduled. Right now, I’ve had both kids sleeping for an hour and a half, and I feel like I’m at Club Med. I stand behind the truth in these words, even though I may have only brainwashed myself into believing they are true.

I also believe, without a doubt, that getting married and having kids will extend my years. Single Andrew, the guy who went through lengthy periods where he averaged 15 beers a night, didn’t have incentive to see old age. Married Andrew — Daddy — has been sober for almost a half-year now, and he has the best opportunity he could imagine to reconnect with the joy of youth from the perspective of an adult.

Being babyless seemed two-dimensional. Having a family seems three-dimensional. And, I can’t lie, having grown up feeling first like an outcast and later a non-contributor, I will continue to trumpet my beautiful family as evidence of my own innate normalcy.

Yes, though, from a practical, empirical standpoint — and from watching humanity at large seem more frightening and irredeemable with each passing year — there’s no way for me to justify bringing life into the world. My offspring, with my guidance, might go on to the type of prosperity that could support me in later life, but that’s not anything I’m thinking about right now, as a healthy man in his early thirties with two kids still in diapers.

I’m reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad right now, a financial advice book which advises the reader to break the elements in their lives down to assets and liabilities. Get more assets, ditch the liabilities. In the world of Rich Dad, a kid is a definite liability. But allow me to make an emotional judgment call and close out this post by saying that, on paper, I’m a poor dad, but inside I feel rich. If I’m lying to myself, well, so far I’m turning out to be a damn good liar.


Sarah likes to roll the ball down the little stairs and have the ball bounce on as many of them as possible before hitting the ground.