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  1. #1
    girl with a pretty smile Honor's Avatar
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    Default Is parenthood what you expected it to be?

    For those of you who have kids, I was wondering if you have any reflections on life as a parent. Is parenthood what you expected it to be? Do you enjoy it more than you expected? Less than you expected? Did having a kid make you happier?

    + A philosophical addition to this post courtesy of @wheelchairdoug: Is parenting ever what one expects it to be?
    Last edited by Honor; 07-03-2013 at 02:16 PM.

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    Senior Member cafe's Avatar
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    Not what I expected. There is *so* much more work involved than I anticipated and it's a lot less fun than I expected. I usually felt like I sucked and was doing a bad job.

    Everybody tells you that you'll miss when they were little and so far, I don't, but I'm not dead yet so who knows?

    I love my kids more than I could have imagined loving anyone before I had them and I am absolutely loving them being in their teens and older, which is also contrary to what everybody tells you.

    They are good people and funny and I feel very thankful and like maybe I didn't suck as much as I thought.

    Knowing what I know now, I would hope I'd be brave enough to do it again, because next to their dad they are the best thing that ever happened to me.
    “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”
    ~ John Rogers

  3. #3
    girl with a pretty smile Honor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cafe View Post
    Not what I expected. There is *so* much more work involved than I anticipated and it's a lot less fun than I expected. I usually felt like I sucked and was doing a bad job.

    Everybody tells you that you'll miss when they were little and so far, I don't, but I'm not dead yet so who knows?

    I love my kids more than I could have imagined loving anyone before I had them and I am absolutely loving them being in their teens and older, which is also contrary to what everybody tells you.
    Interesting...has the teen/young adult phase been more enjoyable because they're much more independent? It always seemed to me that the newborn stage is the craziest part of it.

    But I hear very similar things from moms a lot. I often hear things like "it was the greatest thing I ever did, but I never felt like I failed so much."

    Quote Originally Posted by cafe View Post
    Knowing what I know now, I would hope I'd be brave enough to do it again, because next to their dad they are the best thing that ever happened to me.
    Too sweet.

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    Senior Member cafe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Honor View Post
    Interesting...has the teen/young adult phase been more enjoyable because they're much more independent? It always seemed to me that the newborn stage is the craziest part of it.
    The newborn stage seems to pass in a slightly panicked, sleep-deprived haze. It's so nice when they start sleeping a little longer and start being able to smile. It feels like the sun is starting to come out from behind the clouds.

    Yeah, the independence is a big thing. Turns out I don't like taking care of people. I also, despite being a J and a firstborn, am not real comfortable being the boss, so to speak. I've learned to be competent at it, but I hate when I have to do it. I don't have to do that very much anymore. Also, I guess I prefer talking to adults/near adults than to children, sweet as they are.

    Quote Originally Posted by Honor View Post
    But I hear very similar things from moms a lot. I often hear things like "it was the greatest thing I ever did, but I never felt like I failed so much."
    I would imagine it would be tough regardless, but a lot of pressure is put on moms from just about every corner. It's a big job and the one you least want to screw up.
    “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”
    ~ John Rogers

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    Strongly Ambivalent Ivy's Avatar
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    I had a pretty good idea of what to expect, practically speaking, because I have three younger siblings that I was very responsible for and I was a nanny for several years before I had my first child. However, I was not prepared for the hormonal effects of giving birth combined with the unrelenting sleep deprivation of the early months, the guilt that I'm not doing everything perfectly at all times, or the absolutely overwhelming love and devotion (to the point that I would very readily stab any of you if you ever tried to hurt one of my babies).

    I do find that I enjoy my children more than I expected to as they grow into their tween/teen years. I guess I always figured I would have fun with them when they're little, and then when they got to be teens I would have to grit my teeth through that phase since they'd become insufferable sass machines. But that hasn't happened so far. My oldest is just 13, though, so there's still time. I do find that their problems are no longer things I can fix with hugs or advice or just fixing it myself as they grow older, and that's hard. My daughter has a boy who she likes who likes her back who I refuse to call her boyfriend, and he started telling her about his suicidal thoughts earlier this year. She told the right grownups about it and he got some help, but he is continuing to lean heavily on her and we are drawing up boundaries to keep her emotionally safe without being overly restrictive. It's so fucking hard.

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    Senior Member captain curmudgeon's Avatar
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    You'll probably get a lot more mileage out of this question: Is parenting ever what one expects it to be? Otherwise this is going to be a very repetitive, and possibly boring, thread.
    Jarlaxle: fact checking this thread makes me want to go all INFP on my wrists

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    girl with a pretty smile Honor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ivy View Post
    I had a pretty good idea of what to expect, practically speaking, because I have three younger siblings that I was very responsible for and I was a nanny for several years before I had my first child. However, I was not prepared for the hormonal effects of giving birth combined with the unrelenting sleep deprivation of the early months, the guilt that I'm not doing everything perfectly at all times, or the absolutely overwhelming love and devotion (to the point that I would very readily stab any of you if you ever tried to hurt one of my babies).

    I do find that I enjoy my children more than I expected to as they grow into their tween/teen years. I guess I always figured I would have fun with them when they're little, and then when they got to be teens I would have to grit my teeth through that phase since they'd become insufferable sass machines. But that hasn't happened so far. My oldest is just 13, though, so there's still time. I do find that their problems are no longer things I can fix with hugs or advice or just fixing it myself as they grow older, and that's hard. My daughter has a boy who she likes who likes her back who I refuse to call her boyfriend, and he started telling her about his suicidal thoughts earlier this year. She told the right grownups about it and he got some help, but he is continuing to lean heavily on her and we are drawing up boundaries to keep her emotionally safe without being overly restrictive. It's so fucking hard.
    Hmm, I remember having a depressed friend when I was 13 and telling my family about it. They got in touch with her parents to express concern for their daughter and reassured me that many people go through sad phases in their lives and most come out of it on the other side. I don't know the details of the situation, but similar actions may be helpful. The reason I mention it is that I've seen a lot of parents become aggressive toward the person who's suicidal. I understand the impulse to protect your kid but that doesn't really help anyone.

    As I went through high school and college, I knew people who were depressed, suicidal, or even attempted suicide. When a friend of mine attempted suicide, some of my friends (whose parents weren't as sympathetic) reacted to her with outright meanness. It was awful. It's sad that she has to face this reality so young and it's not her responsibility to be anyone's therapist, but it's most likely something she'll encounter again and again, unfortunately.

    (I don't intend to in any way minimize your concern as a parent. Just my thoughts.)

  8. #8
    girl with a pretty smile Honor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wheelchairdoug View Post
    You'll probably get a lot more mileage out of this question: Is parenting ever what one expects it to be? Otherwise this is going to be a very repetitive, and possibly boring, thread.
    Hey, hey, hey, are you calling my thread boring? Just kidding, I added your suggestion to my original post in case anyone wants to answer that question.

    But my two cents...the answer to your question is clearly: no, it's never what you expected it to be. First of all, you're bringing a person into your family that you've never met. How can you know what to expect?

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    Strongly Ambivalent Ivy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Honor View Post
    Hmm, I remember having a depressed friend when I was 13 and telling my family about it. They got in touch with her parents to express concern for their daughter and reassured me that many people go through sad phases in their lives and most come out of it on the other side. I don't know the details of the situation, but similar actions may be helpful. The reason I mention it is that I've seen a lot of parents become aggressive toward the person who's suicidal. I understand the impulse to protect your kid but that doesn't really help anyone.

    As I went through high school and college, I knew people who were depressed, suicidal, or even attempted suicide. When a friend of mine attempted suicide, some of my friends (whose parents weren't as sympathetic) reacted to her with outright meanness. It was awful. It's sad that she has to face this reality so young and it's not her responsibility to be anyone's therapist, but it's most likely something she'll encounter again and again, unfortunately.

    (I don't intend to in any way minimize your concern as a parent. Just my thoughts.)
    Yeah, it's different. All of that has been done and the boy has spent a week in the hospital as recently as April, but he wants her to comfort him day and night and it's just not going to happen. She's 13, he's 14, she can't be his counselor no matter how much he wants her to be that. I'm not being aggressive to him, I have a lot of compassion for what he's going through as I've struggled with depression myself, but they are in an unhealthy dynamic and she's my first priority. Drawing boundaries is not being aggressive and I'd worry about the child of any parent who didn't draw boundaries in this situation.

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    Senior Member cafe's Avatar
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    My oldest daughter went through something not quite the same in middle school: one of her friends said something about killing herself when she was really upset and my daughter became very distraught and went to the school counselor to try to get help for her. Her friend, by the next day, was fine and back to her usual bubbly self. My daughter lost all respect for her and, though they continued to hang out, never really thought of her a friend again after that. She is a lot more cautions with people and is more selective about what kinds of people she's friends with as a result of that whole thing, I think.

    My younger daughter seems to be an NF and she has that thing where near strangers tell her their deepest, darkest secrets. So we were just talking last night about trying to round up the contact info of the people she should be referring them to, instead of having them just dump their stuff on her when she is in no way qualified or equipped to be a crisis counselor at the ripe age of eighteen.
    “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”
    ~ John Rogers

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