We have several friends who have young children, all only have one and are not really thinking about another. Now, while these people do love their little ones, they find the whole process of child rearing rather heavy, more so than they expected. The women, all of whom work, are not that fond of the whole process and it has generated more than a few conflicts within relationships. I have had to deal with a few conflicts too, many of which are down to my, somewhat limited, ideas about bringing up children, which all stem from being brought up in the UK and my other half’s ideas which come from her own Italian up bringing. We are not alone, I’ve heard of a number of English/Italian relationships actually ending as a result of kids coming along. Sad but true. Then again, I know of some Italian fathers who found the stress of fatherhood so strong that they left the home and decided to become fathers-at-a-distance. Not good. I know one should face up to one’s responsibilities and all that, but once you are set in your ways (ie over 35ish), a radical change such as having children can end up being a straw which breaks the camels back. An unstable work environment does not help either. This is all obviously bad news for the poor children involved.
In most of these situations it’s the women who quite literally end up being left ‘holding the baby’, but they are not overly happy about this, even when the father throws plenty of money at them. I think part of the problem is down to the fact that we have children much later than our parents. As a result the whole experience is much more traumatic than it may well have been had we decided to start a family when we were younger and more energetic. There is so much you can do in life nowadays that you end up feeling that you are losing more than you are gaining by having a child. We also seem to be rather unprepared for the whole thing, and when you are older, you have less energy, as I said before, and thus less patience, which is not always good when you have children. I’m not just talking about men either. Many women nowadays enjoy much more freedom than thay did twenty years ago and many are much more aware of the stress and work involved in bringing up a child.
Maybe we just have it all too easy, too convenient and so we find actually having to do some real work, really stressful. I remember what my mum told me when I announced the arrival of our little one; she said children are hard work, but worth it. My mum managed to bring up two boys, look after two dogs and run the house. However, she did have a little home help at the start and she did not work while we were both young. She did have a different attitude though: she sort of accepted that bringing up children was her job, although she did not have much option seeing as our dad worked late and, although he helped my mother out, he still tried to avoid spending that much time with us – and I know plenty of men today who find various ways to avoid being with their children – and that also includes me, I’m sorry to say. Oh, my little son is wonderful and all that, and he provides us with plenty of fun moments, but I still feel as though I’ve lost rather more freedom than I ever really wanted to lose, and a lot of the trials and tribulations of being a parent are just that: trials and tribulations. You tend to put up with things, but they do grind you down.
I shall tell my little one, when he is a bigger one, that he needs to give some careful thought to becoming a parent, although I do hope he turns out to be one of those lucky ‘natural parents’ like my brother.
I believe that some of us are born to be parents, whereas others are not, only it’s the chicken and egg situation in that you never really know until you try, which is OK to a point, but you still have to think of the little human you’ve created and how he or she is going to feel having an unenthusiastic parent on his or her hands.
Trouble is, nobody seems to give you any training on the subject of becoming a parent. Maybe part of our schooling should be devoted to the process. Might lead to fewer divorces and unhappy kids coming form broken homes.