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You can definitely be prepared for what it is like to have a child before having one. Everything you know is not wrong. Yes, it may be a lot of work but it is not beyond the realm of comprehension for us mere mortals.

The variables with children are nearly impossible to prepare for. No amount of preparation will do handle:

1. Development/physical disabilities, or overall health issues

2. Reaction from others, will immediate/extended family help? It's one thing to ask, another for the reality to set in. Overall support base in general.

3. Employment realities. Will a lot of employers have explicitly stated policies, the day-to-day realities often differ (and can be very different between mum(s)/dad(s)).

4. Just general variations in children/growth. I have two, one eats but doesn't sleep well, the other doesn't eat well but sleeps soundly. One enjoys time to himself, but has a temper. The other is far more social (so much social) but is very even-tempered and empathic. No amount of preparation can provide enough knowledge/experience to deal with these qualities, not withstanding 1/2/3.

As others said, we read books, attended classes, looked after nieces/nephews, younger siblings, baby sat etc. We were still woefully unprepared for our own.

This is like saying you can learn to write a perfect program, without ever writing one. Sure, while maybe theoretically possible, I'll take someone with 10 years of experience over 10 years of study everyday. Because at some point, experience is a thing; having lived through the event and having the scars. And that experience is really an irreplaceable part of being human and the learning process.

TIL I'm the equivalent of a badly written "Hello world".

We went to all the classes and read all the books. And no, we weren’t prepared, had way too many misconceptions about baby behavior, and this is above all babies being different.

To strengthen your point. This is ultimately my problem with any statistically based thing. If parenthood was deterministic, then it would be easy.

So, is it possible that some folks are "fully prepared" for parenthood? Almost certainly. I'd expect that the numbers work out such that people like this do exist. Parents that were fully ready for the children they got.

However, this is like expecting someone can know exactly how to play poker, following the rules on when to bet and when not to, and then getting shocked to see that you still don't win every game. Statistically, you will lose games. Best you can do is have the game setup so that the losses are small and the wins are leveraged.

I disagree. I have three kids, and before them being born I was aware that being a parent means a lot of work. But I realize now that I was not really understanding what being a father really means. It's much more laborious, complex yet satisfying and marvellous than I could ever have imagined.

This is not practically true. Imagine if the same could be said for romantic relationships:

"You can definitely be prepared for what cohabitation/marriage is like before your first relationship. It may be a lot of work, but it is not beyond comprehension."

Yes, the brain is capable of comprehending life in cohabitation, as proven by the current mental state of all who are currently in the situation. Getting to that mental state without experiencing cohabitation is practically impossible.

Now swap out "romantic partner" with "small person completely dependent upon you for survival for the next 18+ years".

You're not wrong, but in most areas of life there's a reason we make a distinction between education and experience. Knowing that there will be sleepless nights with a crying baby is very, very different than surviving sleepless nights with a crying baby.

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