Having kids and raising a family seems to still be one of the most widely accepted “you should do it” concepts in the world. Across cultures, we have a father, a wife, babies, and then children.
Most people aren’t happy, most people have children.
That’s a weak correlation, but maybe worth considering.
I’m suspicious of this widely accepted phenomenon. Especially when having a baby is such an irreversible decision (once it’s out of course), NOBODY is incentivized to tell you “yeah… if I could do it again I probably wouldn’t have had this kid” even if they think it.
And maybe everyone loves their children, they light up their life and it’s all worth it in the end when you’re old and frail and need someone to care for you.
When you have a child, their needs always supersede your own, and thus you are no longer living for yourself you are living for them.
Because you have a family now, your risk profile in business and investing (and physically really) shift dramatically. No more motorcycling through god-forsaken Asian countries for weeks at a time, no more pumping that 50k into your latest business idea because it’s ‘right at the turning point’.
I know my own father didn’t take the risks he otherwise would have without us kids to feed, educate and entertain. He ground it out, often for years at jobs that weren’t even close to his potential as a man or a professional. He did his ‘duty’, and I’m forever grateful for it.
But I wouldn’t wish it on him again, or myself. Ever.
There’s nothing wrong with shifting priorities in your life. I’m merely trying to figure out if becoming a father actually is a net benefit in your life when it’s all said and done.
Risks of Becoming a Dad
So what are we really risking by having the kid and becoming a Dad? Quite a bit as it were.
Stress and Restriction on Your Relationship
If you thought you had tough times with your woman before, just wait until she pops out a baby. This is an obvious one but it needs mentioning. The more inelastic in your relationship (how hard is it to leave) the shittier you can be to each other without the risk of getting dumped. A subtle but profound effect on SOME relationships, not all.
Kids Cost a Ton
Day-to-day expenses, insurance, medicine, private schools, university, gifts… Need I go on?
Then of course there’s the added risk of having to pay child support should things not work out in your marriage. I don’t ever want to be writing a check for my ex to spend however she wants.
You Will Forever Be The Second Priority
If like me, you enjoy being the object of a woman’s complete and utter adoration, support, and affection then you should think long and hard before putting a baby in your sweetheart. Women’s brain’s change chemically when they go through the process of pregnancy and childbirth. Her hormones literally rewire her brain and put that beautiful new baby at the center of her universe (source: The Female Brain). This is great from an evolutionary standpoint, but not so great for the father.
I’m not sure I want to be in a relationship where I’m not my partner’s priority 100%, because you better believe that she still expects to be yours even with kids running around.
The Downside No One Talks About
This is the biggest one for me that most people completely skip over when they decide to have a child. We all assume that our future kids will be 100% healthy, normal and functioning. That’s not always the case at all.
A certain percentage of babies are born with lifelong debilitating disabilities. Extreme autism, cerebral palsy, and on and on.
Are you prepared to completely jettison your plans for the rest of your life, because your child needs you and has no other option for survival? For many, the answer is yes without hesitation. For me, I hesitate.
The Rewards to Become a Father
This wouldn’t be a very fair article if I didn’t at least mention some of the incredible joys that come from parenting. Life with kids can be richer, and more fulfilling than a life alone. Kids give you purpose, someone to provide for, someone to parent and care for.
They continue on your genetic legacy and ultimately can take care of you in your old and gray days. That must feel great.
The rewards may be worth the risks for you. But this is a blog devoted to maximizing freedom in one’s life, and if you throw all of these pros and cons into a freedom equation… it’s going to be tough to get “Dad” as the ideal outcome. Just make sure you are taking time to think through your current life situation and plans before you join the “I don’t want to be a father” club.
Let me know your thoughts on kids and fatherhood, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org