If I have offspring anywhere, I’m unaware of it. I was always pretty careful about accidents that resulted in that catastrophic outcome: last thing I ever wanted was another me in the world when there’s too many already.
Guido agreed, which is one reason we’re happily married. No kids! When people ask us, we reply with our standard: “We had some, but the cats were allergic, so we got rid of them.” That gets either delighted laughs or horrified stares, but it stops the inquiries.
Turns out we have science on our side:
Over the past two decades, however, many researchers have concluded that three’s a crowd when it comes to marital satisfaction. More than 25 separate studies have established that marital quality drops, often quite steeply, after the transition to parenthood. And forget the “empty nest” syndrome: when the children leave home, couples report an increase in marital happiness.
No duh. Kids are the single greatest aging agents ever invented, slightly less toxic than anthrax, but far more time-consuming and expensive. Talk about beasts of burden. Their early defenestration lightens the load and inspires delight in delicious newfound freedom.
Marital quality also tends to decline when parents backslide into more traditional gender roles. Once a child arrives, lack of paid parental leave often leads the wife to quit her job and the husband to work more. This produces discontent on both sides. The wife resents her husband’s lack of involvement in child care and housework. The husband resents his wife’s ingratitude for the long hours he works to support the family.
Shorter version: Kids are lose-lose. Even before they show up, the quality of life declines.
Parents today spend much more time with their children than they did 40 years ago. The sociologists Suzanne Bianchi, John Robinson and Melissa Milkie report that married mothers in 2000 spent 20% more time with their children than in 1965. Married fathers spent more than twice as much time….But in the long run, shortchanging such adult-oriented activities for the sake of the children is not good for a marriage. Indeed, the researcher Ellen Galinsky has found that most children don’t want to spend as much time with their parents as parents assume; they just want their parents to be more relaxed when they are together.
Got that? Feeling obligated to spend time with their larvae, parents resent every minute of it, poisoning their relationship with their spouses…..and the kids don’t even like it! This is tragedy in Oedipal proportions. Yet it runs counter to every shred of hare-brained advice you’ll encounter from supermarket self-help tracts to $1,000/hr headshrinkers, which suggests the scam of parenthood is perpetuated for purely financial reasons.
You want a stimulus package? Dump the kids. You lose a deduction, but gain a life.