Alan's Blog

 

Living

 

Thoughts on Being a Parent

I never, ever, wanted to be a parent. In my view, no one in their right mind would actually choose to be put through this torturous existence. It is, however, a topic I know something about as this torture has been thrust upon me twice – yes, I've had to endure raising TWO families – none of them exactly through choice, although I have to admit I was the father in all cases of the children I raised. That in itself is another topic about which I could write at length, but I'll spare you that for the time being.

Having children is a bigger pain in the backside than having haemorrhoids. At this stage it may be wise to state that I have never liked children and never will. Given the choice, I'd much rather have dogs than children. Dogs are much more sensible, particularly large dogs – never mind those dishcloths on legs that are most small dogs who spend all their time yapping and being aggressive to man and beast – rather like many short people (particularly short men). I don't know why people bother with those creatures, the small dogs that is, any more than why they bother to have children – neither is a sensible choice in life at all although the dog must come out on top as it doesn't live as long and costs considerably less than a child.

It must be said that being a parent is the most responsible and difficult job in the world – and a job for which there is little in the way of training. Most jobs result in getting paid – not so raising children. Imagine working a more than full-time job where you can be called out at any time of the day or night, seven days a week and every public holiday without getting paid. Add in the fact that you actually have to pay to do the job. Where is the sense in that? That is the job of a parent. No wonder I didn't want to take that job – no way!

So, what is it about having children that makes it such an onerous and torturous – and expensive - task? The list is considerable. You might want to make a brew or take some Valium before you read on.

According to the Child Poverty Action Group - in 2021, the total cost of raising a child (in the UK) to the age of 18 now stands at £160 692 for a couple and £193 801 for a lone parent. Refer to URL: https://cpag.org.uk/policy-and-campaigns/report/cost-child-2021 . Factor in having more than one child and the cost escalates. Let's say a conservative figure of £250 000 for two children. That's a fortune for most people! That's almost as good as winning the lottery! Just think what you could do with that sum of money if you didn't throw it down the drain by having children. And that doesn't include getting them through university which adds another fortune-like figure to the bill.

In some cultures, couples have children so that they have people to look after them in their old age. This is particularly the case in third-world countries that aren't 'nanny' states and where there are no such things as pensions and welfare benefits. If your children are able to be educated, work (preferably in a foreign country where they can make more money), or marry well, this is the only good reason for going through the tortuous process of having children.

When raising my first family, I had to quit my job and find another where the pay was higher – just to pay the bills. I was the only breadwinner as my then wife was doing the (full-time) parenting. The job I found necessitated me spending months away from home and put even more responsibility on my wife who no longer had me at home to help her with the children. Without children we could both have worked and lived very comfortably without me having to work away for long periods. What a different life it would have been for both of us.

Another two aspects of having children is the lack of choice and the lack of freedom. These go hand-in-hand as you'll see. Once you have a child, every decision you make revolves around the child – or children. Everything. You cannot make a decision about what YOU would like to do or where you would like to go or even where you'd like to live or what car you'd  like to buy (no good buying a two-seater!) without first considering the effect it has on the child(ren). Assuming you're a responsible parent that is – and most parents are.

Unless you're fairly wealthy, some of your choices will be limited by lack of money – the money you're pouring down the drain by spending it on the child(ren). Wealthy people have far more choices and far more freedom because they hand over their parenting duties and responsibilities to paid staff. They also send their children to boarding school where other people bring up and educate their children. Even during the school holidays other people take care of the children. All the parents have to do is pay the bill. This is, of course, a sensible option if you have sufficient money, as having children brought up in this way doesn't interfere very much on your way of life. However, these people can no longer be considered to be parents in the true sense of the word.

Another aspect of parenting is the sheer aggravation of having to do the job. Children are by nature entirely selfish creatures. It's the nature of survival that makes them that way. Children take advantage of every situation they can, play one parent against another and cause friction and stress throughout the family. What sensible adult wants that sort of life? Be a parent? You've got to be joking. Sad to say, but it's no wonder so many couples get divorced – they are torn apart by the children who make sure the parents have no quality time of their own to do the things they'd like to do together as they did before they had children. Life as a parent is far too stressful for many people to be able to handle, although I can't think of any job much worse than being a single parent. At least by staying together there is someone to help with many of the parenting tasks – unless, like me, one of you has to work away in order for the family to survive financially.

The day to day aggravation of getting the children up and dressed, fed and watered, taken to school, taken to their social activities after school / evening and other time-consuming tasks mean that you're watching the clock almost every minute between getting up and going to bed. What sort of life is that? And that's in addition to taking care of yourself, going to work and doing the household chores, the shopping, cleaning and other necessary tasks. And what about your weekends of rest, relaxation and leisure? No chance! Delivering children to their sporting and social activities, whether it be tennis, football, horse riding, music lessons or whatever else that happens throughout the two days where you'd like to re-charge your own batteries instead of charging the batteries of your kids' expensive toys - iPhones, iPads etc. and driving them around from one activity to the next.

Holidays? Limited to school holidays as you have to take the children with you (unfortunately) when prices are sky-high rip-off levels and all tourist destinations are packed to overflowing and over-priced. More stress and aggravation as the kids need to be entertained throughout the holiday and a bored child is even worse than it is normally and you have to put up with it 24 hours a day, every day. What sort of holiday is that? May as well stay at home. In fact, we once came home a week early from one holiday just for that reason. It was a relief to get back home!

Holidays with kids? Never mind.

Holidays with teenagers? Even worse - Never mind.

Having kids at all? Be sensible - Don't bother.

 

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