The Pros and Cons of Parenthood

Mom Moment 11

toddler in tunnelPeople make pro and con lists for all sorts of things -- my husband and I had one when we were house hunting. And what you realize with these lists is that nothing is going to be absolutely perfect, you will make sacrifices. It's the exact same way when it comes to parenthood.

My friend and sex and relationship writer Jamye Waxman recently asked her friends on Facebook to share the pros and cons of having babies. She's gathering responses for a book she's working on, and of course I, a mom of 3-year-old twins, had to weigh in.

I told her that I've never been happier. Kids are incredible. They teach you, and you grow in ways you never thought possible. The love you feel defies words.

Clearly, I'm all hearts and flowers and smiley faces when it comes to parenthood. My first reaction when seeing the word "con" and "parenthood" together was to shake my head. There is no con. But then I saw how there were really only a few responses like mine. Maybe it's easier to see the cons of parenthood when you aren't a parent. Maybe parenthood does something to your mind that you only see the good stuff. Maybe it's sort of like that anti-drug commercial with the fried egg: This is your brain (perfectly shaped egg). This is your brain on drugs (egg cracked and fried up). This is your brain before kids (clean house with a well-dressed couple smiling happily). This is your brain after kids (messy house, kids crying, disheveled parents smiling happily). Are parents brainwashed once the birth certificate is official? Is it all that oxytocin? I just think parenthood is fantastic, messy house, crying kids, and all. The pros outweigh the cons so much that I'm completely oblivious to the cons.

But I wanted kids. Really wanted to become a mom. I'm not the guy who accidentally got a girl pregnant but didn't know it and found out years later I had a child and ended up full of resentment. I'm not the woman whose kid did something terrible, truly terrible. Even then, I think a parent forgives ... at least in some way. But I really don't know. So this pro and con thing really depends.

I couldn't help but wonder about the guy who responded to Jamye saying how parenthood means you will still have to deal with the woman you will end up hating for your entire life. Huge con, if that's the case, I suppose. Was he talking about the woman he had a child with? Someone perhaps he divorced? Or his daughter? There is a lot of pain in that comment. No hearts and flowers and smiley faces there.

Then when I read the response that "your child is your greatest teacher and your greatest artwork," the birds sang again.

But back to that con up there. A child changes your relationship. If it wasn't strong to begin with, a baby isn't going to make it better. Though if you work at it, realize sacrifices are worth it, and perhaps with some patience -- make that a whole lot of patience -- everything can be sunshiney and rose-colored again. Or you move on. There are plenty of amazing single parents out there. Sometimes things just don't work out. Though it all depends. People are still people and some people, well, let's just say that not everyone is kind.

I will say this about parenthood: Kids break your heart every day and in every way. They crush you with their cuteness. Your heart aches the first time you leave them at school. You cry when they get really sick. When they feel emotional pain, particularly when they get older, it makes you feel helpless when all you want to do is help. Because, as my mom tells me, even though I'm older, I'm still her baby.

So we sacrifice. We trade staying up all night to watch the sunrise with heading to bed early so we can wake up with the sun, and our kids. We learn to function on little sleep. We find happiness in changing diapers because in some strange way it makes us happy and means our kid is eating well and pooping it out okay. Spit-up doesn't faze us much after the tenth time. And even when we say we really need a break and have to get out of the house kid-free to do something adult, we still scroll through our phones and smile at photos of our little ones. They are still the topic of our conversations. And we miss them even though it's only been an hour. The pro of parenthood is that these little beings make their way into your heart and soul and that feeling is so bright and so beautiful it clouds out any cons. At least, that's how I hope parents feel. Even through the bad stuff. Even when they break our hearts. There is so much risk in being a parent, creating another human being, and essentially seeing a part of yourself outside of yourself. That vulnerability is undeniable. But so is the love.

What are the pros and cons of parenthood? Do you think there are no cons because the pros overshadow them?


Image via Theodore Scott/Flickr

bonding, time for mom, motherhood


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nonmember avatar Lila1979

I love my children with all my heart and would not trade being a mom for anything in the world. That being said it is definitely not a picnic 100% of the time. I think people who play the "life is fantastic all the time once you have kids" makes it difficult for those parents who have a hard time. One con for me would have been going through postpartum depression. This was hard for both me and my husband. We got through it and our relationship is stronger because of it but it was no pro for sure. Another couple of cons would be the lack of free time and travel. Does that mean I regret having kids and putting my life on hold for them? Hell no. I love my children so much I am amazed everyday by it. But to say there is no cons to having kids...

femal... femaleMIKE

I am expecting.  I know that next year around this time, I will need babysitters.  A con would be that I just can't go out spontaneously anymore.  A con would be the expense of day care while Im at work. 

A con is that childbirth will hurt.

I don't think of a con as a negative thing. Its something that goes with becoming a parent.   There are cons to not having children too. 


kebrowni kebrowni

Uhh no. I love my son to death and, being a SAHM, spend every waking moment with him. He is the only kid that I will be having, so I will cherish every moment with him. That being said...there are definitely cons. Like the lack of sleep I get, the fact that my body will NEVER return to it's pre-pregnant state, the fact that if my husband and I want to have sex at night and our son makes even a PEEP, it completely kills the mood. I can't go anywhere spur of the moment because I have a toddler who takes preparation; I have to make sure he has a clean diaper and a sippy cup and snacks and his shoes/socks. My husband and I have been to ONE movie together in almost 2 years and we used to go several times a week before our son was born. We knew that having a kid would mean sacrificing things we love and obviously we wouldn't trade our son for anything, but that definitely doesn't mean that there aren't cons and downsides. People who think that having babies is all rainbows and unicorns tend to grate on my nerves. And like femaleMIKE said above, I don't always think of a con as a negative thing.

Kathleen Cassell Cribari

The first few years are definitely the hardest, and you feel like the children are taking up your entire life.  I will say that even though my oldest is only 4, I can see it getting easier in some ways.  I can pick her up from school, take her with me to run errands.  She's fun, usually agreeable,  and most of the time I do not have to worry about her having an accident.  My almost 2 year old is a different story, and I am still in the phase with her where I have to do a lot more planning and preparation.  I adore my kids, but I recognize that its not for everyone

Angie... AngieHayes

Hardest thing; no time for yourself... Awesome thing; you have people who love you more then anything in the world, and you love them the same.

Dvegas Dvegas

People who think having kids is all peachy 100% of the time is either lying or they have non stop help form others to get them through day to day issues that others have to deal with on there own. I love my baby boy  i don't regret having him but i do hate the people me and my husband have become due to lack of sleep. We both work full time and have no family or friends to help its just us and we are cranky with each other all the time these days. Having a kid changed our relationship for the worse but i do hope once our lil one sleeps better then we can sleep better and then we can have the energy to handle our lil energizer bunny of a kid without fighting with each other.


One big Pro for me is seeing his big smile in the morning even after fighting with me all night to make him sleep. And I love his big hugs:o) 

Tiffany Altieri

I think my husband was mad at the world for about 6 months after our son was born  Apparently, they'd all lied to him and made parenthood seem like a joy.  Our baby had colic.  It was not joyful and our marriage became a battleground for the first year.  Thankfully said baby is three years old now and we are in a much better place.  Although I could do without the ear-splitting whollop of a tantrum he packs, the hugs he gives and the sheer joy in his eyes at seeing us makes me melt.  Our son is our #1 and we love him more than anything, but we are also two working parents without family nearby who constantly have to make time for one another and our son too.  We are making it work, but I feel dumbfounded by  those parents who say there are no cons. They have either lost touch with reality, have an army of nannies, or are in a much better extended family position that we are.  It's HARD and we only have one.

emmal... emmalazarus

being a mom has been tough for me in many ways.  As a feminist, parenthood has been troubling because of all the ways in which my sex dictates facets of my life.  It's also annoying --- diapers, messes, no freedom, a lamer sex life and no fun travel.  I am thankful for these comments -- there are a lot of rainbow and sunshine people out there. I can't tell if they are full of soup or if I am missing something inside of me.  I know it will get better as the kids get older (2 yo and 3 mth old right now.)  I am also one of those rare moms who can't wait for maternity leave to end! (But I have to take the leave, because of breastfeeding and needing time to fit into my work wardrobe!)

Diane Davis

When they get older and you have to start letting go is the hardest thing.

nonmember avatar TwinMom

Parenthood for me has been difficult even BEFORE I got pregnant. My husband and I had difficulty getting pregnant. Finally, when we did, the pregnancy was extremely difficult... and just when things began to get better, I went into premature labor at 22 weeks. My twins were born at 25 weeks, were in the NICU for three months (almost lost them a couple of times), but eventually made it home where they belong. I will say this... being a mom has been a million times tougher than I thought it would ever be (partly because of the circumstances and everything that comes with having micro preemies). However, they have given me a reason to work harder at everything. Having a child is a huge responsibility because you are molding a human being that will have an impact on the future of our world. I always say... you don't raise kids for yourself, you raise them for society. If you go into parenthood knowing this, it makes it extremely worthwhile. I will admit I have days when I miss being "childless", but if I had to go through it all again, I would. I simply adore my children. They drive me nuts sometimes, but I do my best to love them the best I can, teach them everything I can, and show them how to be the best they can be. Seeing them flourish into well-adjusted human beings makes it all worthwhile.

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