Perhaps one of the problems in the western world is that there is an inherent conflict between being a good parent and focusing on yourself.
People seem to be getting more selfish. More about what they want to accomplish. Where they want to go. What they want to eat. And when they want to do these things.
That’s fine, but if you’re a parent this is all fantasy. Or, at least, if you’re a good parent.
And I think that’s the problem.
Massive numbers of people are still having kids. Their parents or families pressure them, or their bodies tell them it’s time, and there you go.
But people aren’t considering the tradeoff. Well, not enough people.
They know there will be sacrifice, and some give and take here and there, etc, etc. But that’s not a fraction of what they’re actually doing.
When you bring a human into the world I believe you’re choosing to dedicate your life to this thing, for like 18-25 years.
Your whole life.
Every waking moment for good parents is spent thinking about how to make this tiny person successful.
If you are thinking about your own career, and your own sleep, and your own hobbies, and your own travel, and your own friends, and you’re in any way inconvenienced by your kids, I think the clear answer is that you shouldn’t have had them.
That seems harsh, but let’s look at it.
Wasn’t this always the case? Isn’t it pretty much accepted in most societies that parents (usually meaning Mothers) are 24/7 parents?
In many (most?) societies women are two things really: parents, and wives. That’s their role. But it’s more than just a role: it’s an identity.
Sure, you can have a hobby that you can do in the brief moments between chores, but you can’t have your OWN life, separate from being a mother or a wife.
That would make you a bad person.
And what about the father?
I think the father has much more freedom, but only because freedom is more part of the role. He goes out, makes money, brings it home, plays catch and goes to recitals, and all that stuff.
But he’s allowed to have time to himself, or with his friends, or with co-workers, because that time is considered to be part of his productivity. Part of his sanity. Part of what makes him a good provider.
So he has more freedom, but not a lot.
What does money do?
There are some people who can have both lives and parenthood. Rich people.
They have these things called nannies, and boarding schools, and camps, and schooling overseas. It’s spectacular.
So Mom and Dad are busy, successful, interesting people. They travel. They write books. Mom is a badass lawyer. Dad is an author. They go places. They see people.
And then they come home, fairly often, and see their kids, who they love.
Unfortunately, that’s a 2% activity. Meaning 98% of people in the country cannot do this. They cannot afford for other people to properly nurture their kids while they have their own lives.
So most parents have to choose.
They have to choose, or at least they SHOULD BE CHOOSING to either have a life of their own, or to fully dedicate their lives to their kids, for like 20 years.
But they’re not doing that.
They’re ignoring their kids. They’re watching TV. They’re looking at their phones. They’re telling themselves that they deserve a life of their own.
No, you don’t.
You made a human, and now you have to postpone having an identity until the human is an adult.
And it’s so much worse for women. For mothers.
Here we are trying to treat women equally, but let’s not play pretend: women and men are not equal parents. Not in most households. Not in most families. Not in most countries. Not in most cultures.
No. The woman is the full-time parent. Non-stop. Unendingly. Heroically. It’s unspeakably epic what mothers do.
And then we wonder why they’re not respected as much, as a gender?
It’s because they sacrificed their identity. They are mothers, not people. They’re heroes forged in the fiery mountain of evolution for one purpose: TO MAKE SUCCESSFUL HUMANS!
And holy shit it’s spectacular.
But if you do it right, and you do it well, you are left with only the happiness of your children as your soul.
And maybe that’s fine. I’m sure it is, because I see it everywhere.
But I cannot help but feel like it’s unfair. Like it’s a form of naturalistic abuse. A forced inequality and unfairness imparted on half of our species.
Not that it’s not there for the fathers as well. It is. But not nearly as bad.
The truth is that a major reason men (fathers) accomplish more, and are more recognized for what they do, is simply that they’re more focused on their own identities relative to their partner.
This is generally true for fathers vs. mothers. Not just in the U.S. or the west, but most places in the world. Fathers are people, with personal goals and ambitions.
Mothers are mothers. Not people. They have one goal, which is to be a good mother. Wife is secondary. Career is a distant hobby that’s allowed as long as it doesn’t interfere with being a good mom.
And that’s how it plays out in the real world.
Most good mothers are mothers with 110% of their energy, and if they have a career they put their other 35% into that. There’s no comparison between that and a man who puts 95% of his energy into his career and 5% into his kids.
This is truth, and it reflects itself in output, compensation, and recognition.
The question isn’t whether it’s true. The question is what will be done about it. I talk more about that here.
- Parenting is not some euphemistic “sacrifice”. If you do it right, it’s a complete transplant of your soul into the bodies of your children
- The biggest reason men do and accomplish more in life is that they’re more selfish
- If you’re rich, you can possibly have your own life and raise kids well at the same time
- Most people aren’t rich
- I don’t have kids and I break computers for a living, so don’t listen to me about parenting.