Sometimes, it’s not about happy

It’s not your children’s job to make you happy, writes Betsy Hart.

Look, I’m crazy about my kids. I’m happy to see them get up in the morning and happy to see them go to bed at night. Often there are times of happiness and laughter with them — along with sheer exasperation in-between. But what makes me really, really happy in the moment is a weekend night when they are asleep and I can sit up late with my jazz music, a cup of hot tea and my favorite newspaper. I mean, that’s transcendent happiness!

Children call us away from our obsession with self, Hart writes.

And, I would argue, only when we connect to something bigger than “it’s all about me” are we stretched to experience real joy and satisfaction — in a way no animal can and even when our children are behaving like animals!

Hart thinks the rising number of couples deciding to remain “childfree” is a sign of our cultural narcissism. I worry about parents who treat their children like the ultimate status symbol.

About Joanne


  1. I worry about parents who treat their children like the ultimate status symbol.

    Amen to that, Joanne. As a dad whose daughter has recently entered the realm of rec. league softball, I have witnessed appalling parental behavior regarding their children/team/performance.

  2. Indigo Warrior says:

    Parents treating their children like “the ultimate status symbol” is not exactly a new thing. There was a time, fifty or so years ago, when there was enormous social pressure for married couples to have children; many people (especially women) felt incomplete without them. In that time, the act of breeding reduced negative social status; now it increased positive status.

    Another difference is that parents back then felt it was their duty to mold the children into exact copies of themselves, in terms of personality and inclination, and often used the most barbaric methods to accomplish that goal. That thankfully has passed (but there are still cases of it.)

    As for “childfree”, it is their right. This isn’t Ceausescu’s Romania. Many of the “childfree” people know they are incapable of being good parents, so they wisely remove themselves from the gene pool. If only there was more such wisdom! Procreation is an act of staggering responsibility; it is the creation of a potential universe. And people were not put on this earth to be slaves to god, king, and country.

    Selfishness can be a good thing. Self-actualization, Jeffersonian individualism, rational self-interest, that sort of thing. People who are narcissistic, who live beyond their means with oversized houses, SUVs, and pushy brats – they are not living for themselves. They are insecure, shallow, unreflective little drones living for “the Joneses” and “high society” instead.

  3. Walter E. Wallis says:

    And Judgemental!! God I hate judgemental people!

  4. Jack Tanner says:

    Well it may not be their job but they’re doing a heckuva job of it.