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Ask HN: Parents of HN, what are the things you wish you knew before having kids?
33 points by bing_dai on Jan 12, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 24 comments

1. Every child is different. For the first kid, you'll often blame or credit your parenting for some of your child's positive and negative traits. For example, our son (oldest), has always been a great eater. Tries all new foods, loves his vegetables, eats healthy portions. We thought it was because of our "baby-led weaning". Then we had our 2nd and she is a very picky eater (better now than before, but still a big difference) and we often struggle to get her to eat enough. Our 3rd is in between the two, eating wise. More or less a similar environment growing up. The other area this comes up a lot is sleep. Some children sleep terribly, others sleep well. Some parents have a few children who sleep well and feel that they made that happen. Some parents have children that don't sleep well and feel cursed. Try not to be too hard on yourself or too high on yourself.

2. They are a lot more durable, and less fragile than you'll initially feel. I stressed a ton over our first child. I tried not to be a helicopter parent, but still, in relative terms, every health issue stressed me out a lot. In fact, I stressed so much during the first weeks of our first child's life that I got stress-induced shingles! For the 2nd and 3rd, I'm much more relaxed and I simply have less time and attention to hover over everything that happens to them. Let them fall, get hurt, etc - they can handle it and they learn from it. Injuries, scars, etc all heal for the most part. Obviously this does not apply to truly serious conditions of incidents, but those are rare relative to your worrying.

I wish #1 was known by everyone and not just parents. Pretty much everyone (including other parents) will blame you if your kid is a poor sleeper/poor eater/very active etc.

I was going to go with number 1 as well.

Another result of #1 is that when faced with a problem....try everything.

Baby not sleeping?

Go to bed earlier...or later. Don't sweat what works for others, just try things and accept that you're probably just going to bump into solutions accidentally...or they will just grow out of it.

That last part reminds me of advice a coworker gave me before I had kids: "Just when you think you've figured them out, they'll change."

Your children will be the cause of the best and worst moments of your life for the next decade or two. You'll love some of it more than any other experience that you have ever had. And also hate it at other times. You'll wonder when it will get better (it will), yet miss the days when they were little.

And at the end of it, you have a family to grow old with, and it is worth it.

But that is also the key to remember - it is not your goal as parents to raise children, nor to control who they are. Instead, it is your goal to raise adults, who can direct their own lives successfully. Their childhood and adolescence is just the learning curve you are helping them get through so they can go be their own person.

1. Every child is different.

2. They grow up really fast. Capture all moments that you can. Take tons of pictures when they are a baby. First 3 years, they will change every month physically a lot faster than after 3.

3. Plan things but don't worry if you mess up and never blame yourself. Kids make u do that. Some things will happen that you cannot control. Deal with it. Don't over stress about planning too much. Almost always, it is not your fault. Just the nature of how kids are.

4. If you have multiple children, don't compare them with each other. Related to #1.

5. If you think life is hard now, you have no idea whats coming to you mostly in a good way :). Kids will test your patience and no matter what, you have to deal with them. My kids changed my sleeping habits for the better. Don't wanna wake up at 6:30 ? Sorry your kid is awake and u HAVE to.

6. Most important for me: Kids are one the best experiences you can have. Don't worry about the negatives. It is a great feeling and experience of life. This is not to shit on people who don't want kids. I respect that. Kids are hard. But personal opinion, they are worth it. I can have the worst day at work/life but when I see my kids, it lightens me up. All the best.

Try to work on your hobbies after they are in bed. It's tempting to put on a tv program for them so you can work on your own stuff for a while, but they grow up so fast you will regret the time you didn't spend with them.

Check inside your shoes before you put them on.

Applesauce stops loose stools, apple juice causes it.

Similar thread https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21053211 (90 points, 3 months ago, 110 comments)

My comment: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21053962

I've been considering getting a vasectomy recently, and this thread has been a huge help in granting perspective and context.

Even well into my twenties I still don't really have any interest in kids or long term relationships for that matter. I've never really been good at them and attribute a lot of that to my parents making fun of me at a young age whenever I was "dating" someone etc.

The biggest factor for me is having spent years getting my financial life and mental health in check. The idea of doing something like having a kid and throwing both of those aspects of my life into oncoming traffic seems unwise. I've also had good friends seem to fundamentally change in very negative ways after having kids. Some have already been divorced and largely will never have a life they enjoy again.

I would have had very little to no interest in having a kid when I was in my twenties, or even early thirties.

I'm delighted to have one now.

Just use birth control.

I'll try to keep it short and informative: 1. New person in your family will put a high stress test on your marriage/relationship. (this is backed also by my friends experience) 2. First days are a SHOCK and will make you CHANGE YOUR LIFE. You'll have to accept it: it's not about you anymore, it's about your child. 3. First 6 months will be very hard - I mean things like little sleep etc. Also, there is no way you can understand such a small child. And even worse, they are extremely endangered by even the most stupid illness as there are no meds for them (so protect it as much as you can). That may sound weak, but: 4. After 6 months you'll be much better :) 5. If you accept your situation, you'll probably make some improvements in how you spend your time (weaking up earlier and sleep 6 hours, eat better food, spend your free time productive, because it's so little, you really value it). 6. By spending time with your child, if you have a little empathy, you'll be able to mentally travel back to your childhood and look through its eyes on the the world. 7. You'll never forget this feeling, when you have it in your arms (or rather on your hands) for the 1st time. 8. It's hard to describe, but your child will be like for you like the water in the desert. 9. In the end, rising a child is the only thing in your life (besides love) that matters. There are no people that regret working not enough, but most of them regret spending not enough time with their family. All the best for you and your family :) From the time perspective, you'll see it's the best that happend to you :)

>> I'll try to keep it short and informative

Was that meant to be intentional subtlety?

I'm not sure how helpful it would have been to know this beforehand, but one of the things that surprised me is how much decision making I'd need to do. You're CONSTANTLY deciding things. Is she ok? should we go to the doctor? is she too hot? what clothes should she be wearing in this temperature, should we give her paracetamol just in case it's fever? how much food should we feed her? what food should we feed her? is she old enough to have x? oh x is bad for baby's and gives them gas, wish we knew that yesterday? how do you deal with gas in babies?

The most stressful times are when you need to make decisions but you can't find information, or probably more to the point, you can find heaps of information, but none of it makes it easier to make make the decision. You just have to make one.

They grow instantly. My third son, absolutely flew past the baby stage. It went by almost immediately. He's in toddler mode now and this seems to be taking a little more. Or maybe I'm enjoying it more, I don't know.

Cherish it though, time doesn't go back.

In hindsight, I would've done better to simplify my life as much as possible, to leave more time and energy for the things I really care about.

In the end, it worked out ok, and we got through the most demanding and difficult years. It was worth it.

Your romance will turn into an unpaid caretaking job.

Many women have post-partum depression (ie. mental illness.)

A lot of relationships never recover.

Do not have a nexus in California or you can be garnished $2,000+/month for child support (plus legal costs, of course.)

A lot of things you learn when you have kids aren't necessarily useful to know in advance.

My kid doesn't sleep well, and we (parents) consequently don't sleep so well. Not much we could have done about that except try not to worry about it.

Your personalised autonomously will reduce. You may have to Shelve some hobbies and activities for a while. That can be tough, even if you expect it.

Try to be easy on yourself and your partner. Try and socialise when you can. Take turns getting naps and rest when you can.

If you can get help from friends or relatives do, but sometimes you need a break from helpful advice too.

This future was completely unpredictable. How they live and what they learn are essential to successfully coping with a future like that. In part because you will be watching them and wondering what else you might have done.

Children grow up very fast.

Every phase, be it nice or stressful, is very short.

I absolutely, positively, must echo this. Don't think "Oh, we'll do xxxx later..." because you will likely miss your chance.

My subjective perception of time has accelerated _so_ much after having my daughter.

Very simply: it is the best thing that can happen to your life. So don't wait so long to have them.

Some pro-tips that may or may not help (see point 1 from most of these comments that all kids are different).

When they are old enough and you are taking them to the park, give a count down til time to leave. "Hey kiddo, we are leaving in 5 minutes", "... 3 minutes", "... 1 minute...", "ok, time to go.". There will still likely be protesting, but it is smoother than what they will perceive as an unwarranted attack on their fun when, out of the blue, it is "time to go."

When a kid is superficially hurt (scrapped knee, bumped elbow, etc), all their attention can go to the injury. Worse is when all your attention goes there and _you_ get scared. They see that mom/dad is scared, so, oh shit, this _must_ be bad. It is very important to act casual about most minor (or even major) injuries. "Oh wow, look at that! haha, you got yourself a scrape! Well done!". For removing their attention from their injury, you need to refocus their attention. "Oh, yeah, look at that scrape. Yeah, I know it hurts. Hey, which rock did you scrape it on? Was it this one? Let's find the rock. Oh, there it is. What color is that rock? Can you see anything else that is that color? What about that over there? That is the same color, yeah? Ok. Well, let's get rid of that nasty rock. How about you toss it in those bushes over there so it doesn't hurt anyone else." Or you can just be silly. Silly adults are a great way to make a kid laugh and forget what they were upset about.

Little kids love to help. They will be slow and terrible at helping. It is critical that they feel they are helping.

I suggest avoiding allowance tied to chores. Chores should be done because they help the family and everyone needs to help the family.

Kids do well with routines. Family reading time every night at 7:30, etc.

Your goal should be the raising of capable adults. Give them autonomy and trust. However, you can expect what you inspect. Especially as they are young, you have to inspect regularly. Expect them to do their homework, brush their teeth, clean their room do their chores, etc. When they are really young, lots of check ups (daily?). When they are older, less frequent.

Kids, like everyone, learn through mistakes. Give them the ability to make mistakes and learn from them.

Magic eraser can erase sharpie from painted walls. They should be the one to clean it up.

Kids are smarter than you know, or think you know. They are full humans, just with lack of experience and impulse control.

Kids will have different ways of learning than you did.

What kids want more than anything is your time.

Generally choose the path that results in the least stress, and most sleep, for all parties

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