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Controversy: Do Parents Hate Parenting?

So so unhappy...

No one said parenting was easy, but is the cover story of the most recent issue of New York Magazine, which features a cover story entitled “Why Parents Hate Parenting”, is causing a bit of stir among parenting bloggers. It’s a long piece, but it essentially bases its argument from a happiness study that says adults without children are generally happier than those with.

Naturally, this is making a lot of parents upset. Or defensive?

But maybe it’s just the headline that people are reading, and not the rest of the article. Sady Doyle of the awesome feminist blog Tiger Beatdown brings up a great point about how much of the problem is the expectation that having children will fulfill the lives of moms entirely.

“But I’m also wondering if being told that children are the KEY TO HAPPINESS (if you are a woman) has to do with the disappointment (among women) that children don’t auto-fulfill you? I mean, Simone de Beauvoir talked about this. Her whole deal was that women are told having children will fulfill them, and then it doesn’t, and then they hate their children. Her solution: Make something else in your life more important than getting pregnant?”

MomLogic’s Kate Tuttle took issue not so much with the evidence that Senior provided, but the way in which it was presented.

“That’s all well and good. But what makes this article such insufferable reading at times (aside from the picture-perfect family in the illustrations, who all look like sad little J. Crew models, that is) is the tone,” she writes. “You know the one — it’s all too common among mom-type essays in our current generation. It’s the one that whines that we are the very first people on earth to be facing this conundrum.”

At Babble, Madeline Holler sees any unhappiness or stress related to parenting as a short-term thing.

“Kids are just so needy and in the moment (such as, for me, this very moment during a rather contentious bath time) it’s a real drag. And yet, will I remember this particular contentious moment for the rest of my life? Nah. Will I look back at these times of my life with my kids, so young and weird and fun, and long for all of this? Oh, most certainly. I already do.”

What do you think? Are parents less happy than adults who aren’t parents? Is the hubbub around this article an overreaction?

88 Responses to “Controversy: Do Parents Hate Parenting?”

  1. Deb

    I think, not unlike the recent NY Times piece about mom blogging, readers had a knee-jerk to the sensational headline without acknowledging many of the truisms in the article. Although it could have been substantially more balanced–perhaps interviewing some moms who say they are happier than ever–I'm not unhappy with the way the NY mag article shed light on the very hard, often thankless work of parenting. Isn't that what so many of us have been trying to say with our blogs all along?

  2. Charity

    It's not that I hate parenting, but it can be a bit overwhelming. Yes, it's a tough job..but look at the end result.

  3. nightowl776

    For me parenting is a labor of love, at times. It can be stressful so my husband and I have to work at saving some time to spend together. Parenting doesn't make everything perfect, but it is a journey that i'm glad I'm on.

  4. Cathy B.

    I think the problem is that our generation of parents feels that parenting is a verb. There is so much pressure to "parent" our kids by sacrificing ourselves. My parents made plans for our family based on our whole family. We kids went to the same camps not specialty camps nurturing our specific interests -especially at 5 yrs old. We were often bored and it was never considered our parents' obligation to entertain us. We watched TV for hours and not once did I expect my parents to watch or understand (or enjoy) my shows. I know more about SpongeBob than I need to know. The standards now are higher and the expectations are unrealistic. I love my kids but yes, sometimes I hate parenting them.

  5. @wolf_girl89

    I think the problem isent hating parenting. Becoming a parent is the most exciting thing someone can do but at the same time is hard and over-whelming and possibly the most stressful thing someone can do. But becoming a parent also has some of the best experiences, like seeing ur child go off to their first day of kindergarden or graduate high school or start a family of their own. So, do parents hate parenting? No, I dont think so.

  6. Kevin

    Yea its definitely being overwhelmed. I try to impart knowledge to my younger relatives to make sure they truly are ready to have kids

    • CrystalP

      absolutely, I had my oldest son quite young… had I known then what I know now, I would have waited.

  7. CrystalP

    I think that too many of us are seeking things to fill a void and are quick to fill that void with whatever we think will satisfy that emptiness. There is a lot of confusion in the world and over time because money has been the dominate slave driver, driving us all into a corner of confusion, where the world looks dismal and all we see is what we don't have. All we see is the mundane instead of the joy that is truly present.

    It all boils down to perspective. The people who don't have children are really no more happier, except that they might have a better idea of what they want and what they don't want. Perspective is everything.

  8. CrystalP

    I forgot to add this…

    Are we sacrificing ourself? Or is it a service to our future selves?
    Is it overwhelming? Or is an amazing edge of my seat roller coaster ride?
    Is it a struggle? It doesn't have to be one. If we choose struggle then it becomes one. Just that easy….
    If we choose to slow our minds down, it happens… it might speed up again… but that is where practice kicks in… being a parent is the same… the behavior we get back from our children is an exact reflection of what we show them.

    Kids are tiny little mimicked, behavior is imitated. It is a lot of responsibility.
    It becomes even more stressful when we try to compare ourselves to societies standards. I can understand how nerve wrecking that may be for some people. It can be hard when people feel like the world is against them. It is easy for parents to feel that way. Some days can be quite frustrating and challenging. But… to be great, we have to have things to overcome…

    Enough with my book 🙂

  9. Lis

    Do Parents hate parenting? Well, I would say that those going into it with the idea of being "fullfilled" might just hate it, just like those going into marriage thinking that their spouse will fill all their emotional needs may end up hating their marriage.

    Relationships should be about giving of self, not "getting". So those that go into marriage, parenting or any other sort of relationship with a selfless attitude are going to be far happier than those that don't. But the children the spouses, etc don't cause the "hate"…. that is a choice on the part of the person, in my opinion.

    Even when my kids are driving me batty (Which they do at times…) I am resolved to enjoy the cause of the battiness… each stage goes by so fast…. enjoy them for what they are!

  10. Laura D

    There are plenty of us that enjoy parenting. I know I do at least 90% of the time. It gets rough on ocassion but really, what doesn't? Love love love parenting!

  11. Beth Warren

    I think if you ask any parent during a difficult stressful moment, they'd have a different answer than after a positive joyful moment. Life is ups and downs….people without kids have ups and downs too. But overall, I think my parents at least (I don't have kids yet) are glad they had us, and feel everything was worth it.

    • Haidy

      I am one of those parent who sometimes feel extremely stressed and some other times, I am the happiest person on earth.

  12. Tami Lewis

    i think it's how you look at parenting that causes the different opinions. as a christian who doesn't believe in birth control and sees children as gifts from God to train up for Him and doesn't believe in working outside the home i see things differently than someone who is focused on their career and believes money is more of an issue with how many children you have. i wish the article had stated other opinions as well.

  13. @RePurrPussed

    Everyone that I know that has kids (I am kid free by choice) seems miserable to me. They only complain about not having any time to themselves and being run ragged by their kids but then when you ask them why they had kids they always say that they are worth the hassle. Guess that is something I will never understand. LOL

  14. @FotoMacro

    I think that a lot of people have children for the wrong reasons and that is always going to lead to disappointment and unhappiness. If you are having children due to family/society pressures or because you think it will lead to your own fulfillment, then you are having children for the wrong reasons.

  15. lee

    What’s funny about this is I was just reading another person’s blog about how women aren’t the only ones who feel the urge to ‘nest.’ He was in his thirties, living the ‘bachelor’ life which some people may regard as the dream of happiness, yet he was feeling unfulfilled. Going out, partying every night, getting drunk. He said it was fun in his twenties, but then after all your friends get married and settle down and have kids and you replace all your friends with twenty year olds, you start to feel like there has to be more.
    So i think it’s true, we all want to do what we want, when we want. And parenting doesn’t allow you to do that. But at some point raising children brings a satisfaction, that says you have invested your time, made your imprint, on someone that matters, and the people who have been living and doing whatever they want sometimes waste it away and long to make a difference by having a family and raising children.
    In the end no matter what you’re talking about, things that take hard work are also the most rewarding.

    Don’t forget, Dads blog too!!!

  16. shen

    children do not 'complete' you. it is not their role to fill your empty spaces. they may love you unconditionally, but you must do so in return. it can be hard, thankless work. the peace corps is not the toughest job you'll ever love- it's parenting.

    but the rewards are phenomenal. listening to my toddler have a conversation with her teddy bear. watching my tween perform a flute solo. my heart could burst!

  17. Bunny wabba

    “Kids are just so needy and in the moment (such as, for me, this very moment during a rather contentious bath time) it’s a real drag. And yet, will I remember this particular contentious moment for the rest of my life? Nah. Will I look back at these times of my life with my kids, so young and weird and fun, and long for all of this? Oh, most certainly. I already do.”

    This is why parenting sucks. Is everything you lose and do worth hugs and kisses? No. No it isn’t. Spending the last years of your youth raising a child is…it’s just sad. That is your life.

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