Time is finite. You can either spend some particular moment working at your job, or you can spend that moment with your kids - you can't do both. While some people may be better at balancing the two, the fact is in a competitive economy there will always be people without kids (or who don't spend much time with their own kids) who won't need to make the same tradeoffs. No amount of government policy will change that fact.
You can do anything you want, but you can't do everything you want.
This is one of the hardest parts of parenthood to communicate to non-parents: Yes, children demand a lot of time and attention. However, as a parent you actually enjoy spending that time with your children.
To the author's point: Different people will want different balances between time spent working and time spent with kids, and that's fine as long as it remains a balance. There are different ways to divide up time and attention that don't require sacrificing everything for the children. It took me a while to learn that having both parents available on demand 100% of the time isn't necessarily great for the child's development as they grow up. Dropping your kid off at daycare is hard the first few times, but watching my child have fun and develop relationship skills with other kids and people was eye-opening. There are many ways to split the load between parents that are fine in the end.
It also helps to remember that "they grow up so fast" is cliche, but it's true. The most demanding early years of child raising fly by quickly. I don't mean to downplay the effort involved, but the situation continues to change as they grow up and become more independent, eventually spending more time at school, on independent activities, with their friends, and so on.
It's very difficult for anyone trying to balance demanding startup needs with demanding infant needs, but I also know many people in the startup world who simply had young kids and did startups at different stages in their career rather than overlapping the two. There's nothing wrong with working for a relaxed, big company while your kids are young and need attention, then switching gears to startup mode after they're more independent.
It blew my mind when I heard someone say "kids are only toddlers for a couple of years". As a kid you feel like childhood lasts an eternity, and their developmental stages are so significant, but in comparison they spend less time at each phase (infant, toddler, little kid, etc) than most people spend on a bachelor's degree. I can't imagine how fast the time must feel as a parent, and it helps put into perspective for me why it's difficult for them when kids grow up, since it's not necessarily intuitive to think of their growth in terms of quantitative time.
Years of having a cat made it relatively easy for me to adjust to the odd hours, but nothing could have prepared me against the erratic behaviour of an underdeveloped digestive system.
In your early 20s, a couple years of hard work sounds like an eternity.
In your 30s and later, you realize a couple years is barely a blip on the radar.
The infant/toddler phase is only a couple percent of your overall lifespan. Yes, it's work, but it's not subscribing to a lifetime of sacrifice and misery.
But as for my nephew, I keep forgetting that he's still so young. It feels like he should be much older, and much more capable and independent, just based on how long it feels since I spent a few weeks at my sister's house when he was a month old. But if you ask my sister, she'll of course agree that time has passed so quickly.
Relative feelings about the passage of time is just such a weird topic.
>In your 30s and later, you realize a couple years is barely a blip on the radar.
Another way to look at this is that when your youth is rapidly diminishing you really care about how you spend it but once that ship has sailed you rationalize whatever path you took.
When you are 5, a year represents a full 20% of your life. (And even more of the amount of life you are capable of fully aware of).
When you are 20, a year is 5% of your life.
When you are 50, it's 2%.
Imagine asking someone to commit to what is effectively seen as 25% of their life to a project. But that's what we do when we tell teenagers to start thinking about college.
Now who is the winner and who the loser?
When your body isn't good for anything anymore and you can't even enjoy spending money, being happy about the people you created is more or less the only thing left - and you can really be happy about it. But that's only if you have a good sense of empathy for the happiness of people you care about.
Honestly it's a tiny assumption, nobody's perfect but it takes being terrible for your kids to avoid saying goodbye on your deathbed.
Depends on who's awarding the points.
Could be either one of them. Could be all of them. It's not like they were competing, or even playing the same game.
Winning is a category error at this point.
Not really. I think it's an interesting mental exercise and can see the pros and cons to all paths.
I think the optimal path is a mixture of all three. Work hard enough to afford the life you want to live (ideally at a job that is itself gratifying and meaningful) and then fill the rest of the time with experiences shared with friends and family.
Hiring and compensation is also quite ageist (this time not in the normal bad way!) where being thirty generally entitles you to a higher salary expectation than someone in their twenties.
However, I think there are just as valid arguments to be made for each of the people noted - some people would view the person with kids as having a burden to deal with through their thirties and other folks will consider the person who partied to have wasted their time possibly killing off brain cells and doing nothing "productive".
I think overall this is a really personal and opinionated question - I'd favor the career oriented individual as "failing" purely from a philosophy focused on enjoying and expanding the non-vocational portions of life, but we've all got different wants and needs - I hope the third paragraph helps explain the trade offs all three folks are making. The key thing is that nobody gets to live all lives - unless you're talking about The Egg.
And the constant worries of becoming your own parents. Kids really mess you up.
Here's another one for you - "The days are long, the years are short."
There's a song that I also often play in my head during frustrating times "You're going to miss this." To me these are both good daily reminders.
Very important side note for your health! NEVER EVER say any of the above three things to your spouse when they're stressed or had a bad day. They don't want to hear that. Just listen & comfort them. Remind them on a good day only.
Where are you living?
My experience in the US has been basically what you described in Fiji, except not limited to women. Virtually everyone around here is happy and excited to see kids. Babies especially.
Taking my <1 year old for walks was guaranteed to produce smiles and waves from everyone we passed.
If I was living somewhere where people outwardly loathed young children, I'd probably want to move. What you're describing isn't normal.
This is the issue with the modern left in america. They do a great job of highlighting injustice (through teaching many critical thinking skills as part of "wokism") but then the solutions given are so poorly articulated that they're laughed out of the room. Most people know they are exploited - few know how to escape it. I'd rather not even know I'm exploited if I have no way out (you know, ignorance is bliss)
You highlighted this with our own culture in small acts - but it's just as apparent with our body politic as well...
OTOH, being old enough now to have seen multiple variations of quite a few products, I am amazed at how "designers" of products manage to get basic shit wrong.
I mean, how hard is it to just look at your competition and see what they do right.
...and so I likely come across as a curmudgeon calling poorly designed things bullshit as I express my disappointment in a society that hasn't figured out hoverboards yet...
Trying to describe the way time comes to a complete stop when your infant child gazes into your eyes and you look back and you feel a connection that quite literally can't be put into words, makes it really hard to talk to people about it. On the other hand almost everyone can imagine what it would be like to have to deal with that same infant having an explosive bowel movement that exceeds the capacity of their diaper to contain it. And so, when pressed to talk about something related to child rearing people fall back on the sleepless nights (we've all been tired), the crying, the dirty diapers, etc. Because talking about the good feels like trying to describe falling in love to someone who's never done that before.
With that said, I generally try to catch myself these days when I am unfairly weighing one side of the equation and express what an absolute blessing having kids has been and how much richer they've made my life. I think many (most) people who have kids feel the same.
I think they just want to vent. Which is why it doesn't make sense to me because I see complaining for the sake of complaining as a negative-utility activity.
This is something I've tried to explain to non-parents many times. One of the fundamental weird asymmetries of parenting is the negatives are visible and the positives are hidden.
Visualize someone cleaning a blown-out diaper with shit everywhere and that's pretty obviously a bad experience. Likewise a toddler screaming in their parents' face in a crowded restaurant.
Now visualize a parent looking at their kid while their kid sits there reading a book or sleeps in bed. Boring. But what you don't see is what's going on inside that parent. How incredibly proud they feel to have created a little world around their kid where they feel safe and secure. How amazingly gratifying it is to watch their little one learn skills and grow. Just the immense conduit of love flowing between them.
You can't really see it, but it's all there and the parents all know its there.
> I see complaining for the sake of complaining as a negative-utility activity.
The opposite is true. There is little cause to talk about positive things because they aren't actionable. If you're happy, you don't want to change anything. Talking about negatives is useful because they represent problems that others may be able to help you solve.
Consider a code review: you mostly comment on the code that has something wrong with it.
I mean it sounds hippy-dippy to say "think positive thoughts, man." But there is some truth to it, speaking from neuroscience and personal experience.
EDIT: Love the first part of your comment, though I don't have anything to add to it!
I'm not sure if any studies have been done but I'd be interested to know if that's true. My instinct is the opposite: a little bitch and moan can make you feel better about getting something off your chest, especially if the person you're talking to sympathises and can maybe even give you feedback.
And let's be honest, this is nothing specific to parenting. I'll bet most of us have complained about some facet of programming recently even though we enjoy it immensely. If we went by the same logic every HN thread would be full of "if that's how you feel then why did you go into programming?"
Regarding the activity, it may make you feel better but my question is: does it actually improve the situation? I assert that it does not. Obviously just making a complaint doesn't fix anything, but more importantly it focuses attention on negative aspects (which we presuppose can't be fixed by merely talking), which reinforces both your view of those negative things and strengthens the negative emotional reaction.
I learned this from one of my aunts who is the best parent I have ever seen: tireless, family-focused, and always positive. When I became a parent myself I asked her how she deals with all the stress and she told me it's as simple, and as hard as just focusing on the positives. When you feel frustrated about something you cannot change, then find the positive and focus on that.
It sounds dumb, but it works. It makes you happy, which makes for less shouting or stern parenting, which builds better relationships with your kids and spouse, which starts a positive feedback loop.
On the other hand I often see parents complaining about their kids every time they meet up with other parents, sometimes when the kids are within earshot too, which just makes them focus on and respond more quickly with negative emotions to those same issues. This starts a negative feedback loop which starts them down into the "ugh, everyday is a chore" lows.
Our brains are reinforcement machines, so just complaining by itself does make the situation worse, when there is no expectations of the complaint causing the situation to be resolved. That's what I mean by inherent negative-utility.
> Regarding the activity, it may make you feel better but my question is: does it actually improve the situation?
My counter is: yes. Yes it does. It feels good to rant, to get things off my chest. Complaining with others gives me a sense of camaraderie, that we're going through it together.
I'm glad that your aunt's tactic works for her, but it doesn't work for everyone. No-one is required to rant if it doesn't work for them!
Compare that to work. I'm sure we all have regrets with work. Late nights or weekend working on something that didn't turn out to be worth it. Or working for somebody that didn't turn out to be worth it. But kids? Always worth it. Spend your time wisely.
> Like there’s a single standard of interest that women have in being with their kids when, in fact, it varies a lot between women.
If you have "little" interest in being with your kids, well, what's motivating you to have them, and is that fair on them?
My (stay at home) wife actually occasionally receives condescending remarks from other women who have careers. They are subtle and probably what some people would call micro aggressions, and imply that she is selling herself short by not being part of the new empowered generation.
Easy to ask, Free to use community driven child care. People who are less-fortunate are better in forming communities than wealthier ones. Cities dwellers lose out on such things.
As a whole, we need to do better to support parents and extra more for moms. I would not hesitate to offer to keep my friends / neighbours / colleagues children under my care for few days / hours if they need it. No fuss / No fee - just classic pure help to my fellows.
Investing in children / women lot more than we do now is vital for all our success, sooner we realize it is better.
Depends on the environment. I grew up in a city, but your first paragraph matches my childhood pretty well.
Our neighborhood was a cluster of short, twisty streets, with narrow roads and broad sidewalks. Our street had about 40 houses/apartments (mixed zone), and at least 10 of those had school-going children. In my street, I was one of the oldest so I mostly played with a few other kids from "'round the block", but I never needed to go beyond a 100meter-radius from my home.
Our moms took turns doing the school runs, supervising the little ones when they were outside, even cleaning or babysitting if needed. But right now, I don't see much of this happening where I live: a faceless street with a broad road and narrow sidewalk, more than 100 apartments but hardly anyone knows each other. Maybe it's just because I don't have children so I don't look for it, but I hardly ever see children playing outside on the streets here.
Despite our best efforts, our kids are largely oblivious to the danger of cars. I don't know what's changed on that front.
I think this is true only in certain Western countries. I was born and raised in Turkey, and was an apartment dweller until I moved to the US for college. Growing up, I knew all the neighbors in our four or five story apartment complexes, and I knew their kids. So did my parents. And the community aspect was pretty strong — when my parents both had to work late, I just headed over to one of the neighbor's condos and played video games with their kids, and sometimes stayed well past dinner.
In the US though I have trouble envisioning such apartment communities. Maybe they exist, but based on my own living in apartments in America myself, the experience is a lot more... sterile and cold.
But a year ago I moved into a 4-unit condo building (with the small owner's association covering both my building and the building next door), and I already know everyone in both buildings. Not particularly well because of the pandemic, but I expect things to improve once things go back to normal.
I grew up in suburbia, and things were a bit better then. The houses in our development up until I was 12 were close enough to each other, and there were enough kids, that we'd hang out all the time and ride bikes between houses more or less unsupervised. I didn't know it at the time, but I bet my (stay-at-home) mom appreciated the break when my sister and I would randomly wander out and hang out at a friend's place for a while. (And vice versa with the friends' parents.) But even then, it was limited to two or three other households. After we moved to another state during my teenage years, we knew the neighbors, but weren't all that friendly with them; I think in the six years I lived there before college I went into one of their houses once.
I don't know what the solution is... in the US there is a lot of emphasis put on individuality and independence, and about parents providing for and bettering the lives of their nuclear family members. While that does have some positive effects, I think you end up with a lot less communal child-rearing, which IMO is definitely a negative.
To be fair... I haven't lived in those kinds of places since I was a rather young (now I am rather old)... so things could have changed.
Now this isn't some sexist rant that women should marry, but it's the antithesis of "takes a village to raise a child." Most of these single moms tend to have smaller social groups, have sporadic family ties, and often have mental health issues due to poverty that comes with being a single mother. It's harder than going to college and working full time but doesnt pay. And paying them off to live that lifestyle doesn't incentivize men to want to want to support a spouse. I really hate to say it in all my life, but I honestly think conservatives were right about the aspect of a family. It's vital and for some reason it's being tossed aside as though it's not needed anymore and that the root problem isn't somewhere else.
We will see how this plays out, but in my experience so far, it's women who have ended up returning to defacto and fulltime childcarers. Our response as a culture to Covid may mark the high point of women's progress in the workplace.
> Everyone knows kids consume your time. But what people without kids may not realize is the extent to which people with kids want their time to be consumed by them. And, on the whole, I’d guess women more so than men.
That last sentence makes me sad in all sorts of ways. It's probably true, but the expectations are self-reinforcing, expecting women to be more family oriented than they might want, and expecting men to me more work oriented than they might want.
Up all night with baby and always-on work. Its a recipe that will drive anyone to the brink.
My experience matches closely to that of the author. Our second kid got born a few months into my startup and on average I think I've spent more time raising our kids than my wife has. I'm a man, but in terms of old-fashioned gender roles, I've become the mom.
I think that this has profoundly influenced the kind of startup we've become. Even if I wanted to, I could never do those typical mad coding frenzies, or spontaneous multi-day deep dives, or working through the night because of some important customer/opportunity/deadline. After all, my kids wake up at six (if I'm lucky) and much it's going to be on me.
Our company became the kind of company that has a healthy work/life balance, lets people work flexible hours and trusts that they do the work. No pressure to do overtime, no arbitrary deadlines just to create a sense of urgency, no chaos just because we're a startup so there's gotta be chaos, right? We ship fast not by stressing everybody out but by aggressively scoping down and then shipping that when it's done.
Thing is, my personality is actually much more hectic than that. I could've totally been that enthusiastic founder that drives half the team into a burnout through sheer passion. Mad beer-fueled coding nights, going for the Ballmer Peak. But I have two kids, I'm off at five, you're gonna have to drink that beer without me. Might do a few hours in the evening but to be frank, I'm often all out of energy once I finally got the boys to bed.
I sometimes envy those male founders who just drop everything and go all-in on the company, and just "let the wife handle the kids". In some ways it's almost offensive to me, what is it, 1960? Give your wife some space too, man. But it also sounds exceptionally luxurious.
At the same time, why would I want kids if I didn't want to be with them? That context switch twice a day is harsh, it's killing. But I think it's also the only thing that keeps me sane.
EDIT: I just noticed that the author makes a related argument in an earlier article: https://femfosec.com/start-a-startup-before-you-have-kids/ I don't fully agree, but I do think that you're unlikely to be able to run a stereotypical VC-treadmill super-high-intensity startup while raising small kids.
If you work 9-5 (really 8-5 most places) this is basically true anyway. Most of the time you get with them on weekdays may have some quality just for existing, but is really pretty poor. Rush around in the morning, send them off to wherever, get back home at 5:30 or later just in time to throw together or eat dinner (depending on whether your spouse stays home), then bed-time routine, or they run off and do their own thing for an hour or two (friends, bike riding because god knows they don't get enough time outside at school for e.g. basic eye health, homework, whatever) while you try to get the house in something resembling order for the next day, then bedtime routine.
Any way you slice it, weekday time-with-kids for someone with a normal job is pretty crap. If you're a super-parent you might be able to make some of it a little better or more valuable. Finding maybe an hour a couple nights a week is doable, especially if you shift all your clean-up into your "alone time" and basically live kids, cleaning, and work all your waking weekday hours (ugh, no).
If you're in the founder set and see loss of weekday time as a huge sacrifice, then I'd guess you're paying someone to handle a bunch of the bullshit in your life. At least regular cleaners and maybe you don't do much of your own cooking, and possibly you have one of those kid-chauffeur services. Ordinary working people don't spend a ton of quality time with their kids during the week. Again, seeing them at all may have some value, but you're not gonna hang out undistracted by other life-junk for any serious length of time.
Weekends? That's where the good times are. Morning and evening weekday hours are just too eaten up with trying to get by. About the best you get is a smooth routine that's at least not a negative experience for all concerned.
Quality time was a invention of the in-retrospect rather entitled parents of the 1970s who justified their neglect with the idea of "well I don't spend much time with my son but when I do it's quality time!".
The truth is kids, particularly young kids just want time. They want to see you around and have you take a active role in their lives. You can be around and clean the house and cook dinner at the same time, have the child help. Kids would much rather have a parent who sits on the couch to watch TV with them for a half hour every night then one that takes them to Disneyland one Saturday a month.
EDIT - Jerry Seinfeld on the topic:
“I’m a believer in the ordinary and the mundane. These guys that talk about ‘quality time’ — I always find that a little sad when they say, ‘We have quality time.’ I don’t want quality time. I want the garbage time. That’s what I like. You just see them in their room reading a comic book and you get to kind of watch that for a minute, or [having] a bowl of Cheerios at 11 o’clock at night when they’re not even supposed to be up. The garbage, that’s what I love.”
My parents kicked me out of the kitchen when I cooked, and I got really good at playing videogames to pass the time but today I have zero relationship with either parent. Cooking and doing chores with my kid is incredibly rewarding time, and we both seem to get a lot out of it.
Taking your kid to school / after-school activities allows for bonding as well.
I generally get what you're saying, but the difference between
a) sharing dinner with your kids, putting them to bed, and reading them a bed-time story, and
b) not seeing them at all in the evening,
When I was a kid, my dad went through a religious conversion. My mom, remaining a good Catholic, stayed with him regardless of his life choices. One morning in a fit of rage, she told an 8 year old me "if you go to church with him then I'm not your momma anymore."
Now, she didn't mean it. She has always been more loving and caring than I had any right to. But the words "I love you" were absent from her vocabulary. With an adult's perspective, I see that it's how my grandparents were in their personal relationships with their kids, too, although my grandmother had a great deal of warmth and love to express to us.
It wasn't until I was in a van with my sisters and my dad and we got into a roll over accident that I heard those words again from my mom. Covered from head to doe with bandaids and bandages and in my bed, she came by to comfort me and I shrank away. She asked me if I was alright, and if I needed her to stay with me that night, but then she asked "do you think I don't love you?"
To which I replied: "That's what you told me when I was sitting at the kitchen table getting ready for church." She had forgotten about the moment, because she was one who made ultimatums to kids whenever she had lost her patience. I never did. And so from 8 to 12, I spent my childhood believing that my dad was crazy and my mom didn't love me.
It matters. It affected my early childhood. I was a straight C student with a penchant for being incredibly disorganized and distracted. I also read over 400 books my 3rd grade year because it was my escape from reality.
Today, I know my mom would have done anything for me, but she had to she tell me that she loved me, first.
It's not crap for the kids, and that's all that's important.
I'm just saying that "I mostly see them on weekends" isn't that drastic, IMO (and I suspect it was a bit of an exaggeration anyway). Weekends represent like 80-90% of the time that I'm not just badgering my kids to get stuff done so their room's clean / we aren't late / they don't look like we don't provide them real clothes / they don't entirely wreck the house / they don't get hurt. The hours during the weekday are high-friction and low-freedom because they fall around transitions.
[EDIT] of course, again, having a large amount of money can enable one to buy one's way to much higher-quality weekday time with kids, that may be a factor. If you don't clean or tidy (much), if you don't have to cook to provide healthy food, if the kids have an actual nanny(!)—if any of that's true, then I'm sure the character of that time at least can be very different, if you don't instead use that extra liberty for your own non-kid purposes.
AKA, parenting. Not "having fun with my kids". The quality to which you refer is based on how much you benefit from the time, not how much they do.
Of course I have weekend memories too (more of the above, plus also trips/camping/whatever). But they actually stand out less in my memory than the almost-habitual kind of weeknight stuff.
For what it's worth, I've done my most intense productive work after having children.
Having a rough day, or are you usually this unkind?
> How do you know your work wouldn't have been better if you hadn't had kids?
Still waiting for my time machine to arrive, but in the absence of that, I can state that I believe my work is better because of having kids.
When I felt like I had a less bounded quantity of free time, I was more inclined to squander it. Once kids made it clear that my time is extremely limited, I experienced a much stronger motivation to get something productive out of the small time I had left.
Also, the kids themselves are a motivation to make more out of my life so that I can provide for them better.
Kids have a massive carbon footprint and are probably the worst thing the average person in a first world country can do to the environment.
This is true in exactly the same broken sense of value “to the environment” that mass murder (especially of the young and rich) is the best thing one can do to the environment.
(Unless you're a religious fanatic of the contraception=murder variety...)
I’m saying that a new kid is not a no-brainer net gain for society. There is clearly an environmental cost to adding more high-consuming people to the planet. See: the planet.
I never said that killing people is good for the environment. While (possibly) technically true, it’s not an argument I’m making.
My argument: Cars are bad for the environment, so maybe ride a bike.
Your attempt to twist my argument: You said cars are bad for the environment so you are saying to destroy all cars.
There’s a pretty big excluded middle between “no-brainer net gain for society” and “he worst thing a person in the first world can do to the environment”. If you just mean not the former, don’t actually write the latter.
> I never said that killing people is good for the environment.
Nor did I say you did. What I did say is that what you did say is only even arguably true from the same perspective under which killing people is the best thing you can do for the environment. Because, it is.
I was trying to give you the benefit of the doubt that you weren’t intentionally making a ridiculous trolly argument as a reply. I guess I was wrong.
I think the "traditional" family roles of mother stays home and father works are outdated but I think the train goes off the tracks when people want to throw the whole idea out completely. To me, the outdated part is just the gender roles. I don't think both parents can be CEOs, someone has to be the primary caretaker because, as so many mothers have said in the past, it's a full time job. Couples of any configuration need to have an understanding of who is going to take what responsibilities when they have kids and often/sometimes that's going to require sacrifices in both career and earning potential for one or both parents.
Nobody should work that hard.
Not just for the sake of our children, but yes for their sake. But for our sake, for the sake of everybody.
We all need to spend more time working on our relationships, smelling the flowers, tasting the tastes.
We have one life and one life only. Getting into a competition about how we waste it on commerce is tragic.
Some people feel a need to work work work obsessively. IMO that should be viewed as a mental illness and needing treatment.
It's funny to consider that futurists of the early/mid 20th century expected that automation would take over most jobs and that people would have much more leisure time. If anything, the opposite has happened, with unskilled workers needing to hold more than one job just to get by, and many skilled workers -- especially salaried workers -- expected to put in many more than 40 hours a week in order to boost company productivity without increasing labor cost.
And the weird thing is that most people seem to think that the meaning of life is work, and without work, people are rudderless and dull. It's really disheartening the number of people I talk to about my desire for early retirement, and the first objection they have is, "won't you be bored without a job?" As if I can't find enough hobbies to do to fill my time. I already don't have enough time for my hobbies, and work is the reason!
Many parents say they work to give their children a better life. And sure, their kids might grow up having more comfort and fewer unmet wants than they did growing up. And the kids might have better jobs prospects when they become adults. But those job prospects probably involve similar or longer working hours as the parents'! Even if that comes with greater earning potential, it seems like a questionable trade.
And that there are exceptionally wealthy people still with their nose to the grindstone.
A politician would have day after day packed with events and travel. You'd need to be switched on, constantly. I can appreciate that a career politician would feel it was their calling, but I often wonder when they plan to step back and let others influence proceedings.
Unless worik has a wildly different definition of mental illness from the USA and every other industrialized society he’s advocating for caging and drugging people who have different preferences from him.
Turing killed himself because of how he was treated for his “mental illness”. The Soviets treated many people with antipsychotics for “slow schizophrenia” for opposing Communism.
Not understanding or supporting other people’s preferences is very, very far from calling it a mental illness.
But I have no power, so my opinion is cheep!
> Some people feel a need to work work work obsessively. IMO that should be viewed as a mental illness and needing treatment.
This is a massive value judgement - for those of us who are lucky to legitimately enjoy their career, why should we slow down?
Why exactly should someone be coerced to stop what they enjoy because others are are unwilling or unable to perform the same?
I'm an amature runner and am never going to be as fast as Usain Bolt - should he not be allowed to practice so that I don't feel bad?
I enjoy my career. I almost love my work. If I were to be doing it eighty hours a week, what does that say about me? "Armchair diagnosis" are OK.
So I'm happily cognitively discontent I guess.
I think it works out much better if one of the parents is much more low key about their career and can shift focus away from it more easily when emergencies / etc happen.
(I say this as a startup founder and dad, i.e. a man in exactly the situation the article describes. I first felt dismissed until I realized what website I was on)
I think the author comes to the right conclusion: they come to terms to the fact that spending time w/ kids is a good reward for them, for making the trade-off of not becoming a CEO.
I suppose one could argue that guilt for choosing kids over work is more of an issue for men because of societal expectations wrt income earning responsibilities. But then again, at the end of the day, regardless of whether you're a man or a woman, do you really want society to dictate what happiness/success should look like for you personally? If anything, someone who is in a position to be able to turn down a CEO position ought to be considered a highly successful individual by any societal standards </two-cents>
If the article said it’s only hard for moms, then I’d disagree with it... but it doesn’t.
It’s just critiquing the assumption that every mom wants the same thing. These assumptions form social pressures & impact career decisions, and she’s pointing out that you don’t have to struggle with that decision in the way society expects.
Sure, it would have been nice if they acknowledged dads... but given the name of the website, I don’t think we’re the stars of this show, and that’s fine.
I took the authors claim that dads were less interested in spending time with their children to suggest that this wasn’t such an issue for dads.
Being a parent is hard no matter where you work. Those who talk about balancing their career with their desire for children might as well dream about winning the lottery.
All of your high minded ideals will be directly confronted by a screaming baby who can’t clearly express their needs for another 6-12 years.
I don’t think this problem is truly unique to startups.
Is that model nearly incompatible with parenting? It might be. But that doesn't mean that there aren't parallel eco-systems of "start-ups" for those with various lifestyles (I know, lifestyle b**** is a dirty word here.).
Obviously any job that requires 80-hour works isn't going to be compatible with spending a lot of time with your kids. Like you said, there are plenty of other businesses and business models that don't have such onerous demands. They may not become the next unicorn and VC darling, but they leave room for a more normal life outside of work.
According to the author, pretty much.
We are very lucky that we are mostly financially independent from before our son was born, otherwise I would have to go work in an office and it would be a lot harder for my wife to look after the baby.
I ask this as a single dad of two kids, one of them since they were < 1.
The person watching the kid looks like they have spare time, but it’s garbage time because your attention is diverted to the kid every couple minutes or less.
I found this especially true with our first born, where once you have a second, you quickly realize you probably gave them just a tad too much attention than was necessary.
Children have been raised in situations with single parents, ones where one or both parents work full time, etc. Day cares are somehow able to manage with one teacher to 10+ young children. Have we been failing at child rearing since, well, the beginning of time?
I’m also not sure what garbage time with a < 2 year old would really be…they honestly don’t do much nor can they learn to do much at that age. Don’t get me wrong, plenty of meaningful ways to spend time with a child that way, I just don’t really know how you spend 8-12 hours a day giving focused attention to a 1 1/2 year old. But to each their own and not my place to judge anyone else’s parenting style.
I'm not saying I interact with the kid the whole time, but I have to keep an eye on the toddler to make sure they're not hurting themselves, or more likely, the toddler is pestering me to play with them. They play with their own toys and pots and pans for a few minutes, but it's not long before they see you on the laptop or whatever and want to get up in your lap.
It's easier if there are other toddlers to play with and how a daycare can watch multiple toddlers with one adult.
And do you feel, you always have to obey to your childs wishes? Don't you think it is important to learn for them,to respect other peoples wishes, too?
It is an ongoing struggle, of course, but after I started to pay more attention to my needs and be consequent about it, even if he goes hysterical - it became a lot easier for all of us. He can now (2 years) accept a no, if it is a real no.
Mine are a bit older now (8 and 5), but I will be a bit sad when they no longer want my attention as much, so I’m trying to enjoy it while it lasts!
I know I can't do any deep work, when it is my turn to watch our toddler - but I am very capable of doing household related tasks, etc.
And I also have to say, without trying to impose it, but I know this from other parents and sometimes from myself: you definitely can give too much attention to a child - unless you want them to become egocentric narcists, who think the whole world turns around them. Those childs will have a hard time later on, learning that this is not true. And everyone around them, will suffer with them.
But of course, I don't know how you actually do things, but this is the image that came to my mind, a image I have seen quite a lot in my generation.
I still have downtime after having a kid, but I'm much less motivated to spend it on a side project because I'm that much more exhausted.
I guess it’s to say, lots of people choose not to have additional children because of fears like that and while it is not always easy, people can work and raise children, and better, they still turn out just fine.
Kudos to you both for sacrificing your personal goals to spend time raising your child!
She found her CTO a couple of months after our second child was born and I haven't been involved since. Shortly after she found her CTO, they raised their first round.
(More context: we did not have much money lying around, no family to donate money to us, nor did either of us have any experience starting a company.)
Nowadays everyone in society is lured into higher education and paid work. They naturally grow their lifestyles to fit the dual income and things are looking good. Then all of a sudden they're running out of time to reproduce but now nobody has any time to dedicate to it.
Where did it all go wrong? Women are trading husbands for bosses. Seeking freedom as a gear in the corporate machine, working to line the pockets of billionaires instead of cleaning their own houses, cooking their own food and, yes, raising their own children.
Expect more and more women to come forward as they realise that choosing to be a wage slave probably wasn't the best idea after all.
I think the expectation of being able to do both is quite unfair, at least the expectation of being able to do both well. There are many things that aren't compatible with being a cofounder. For example, you're not going to start a successful SaaS company while being a deployed Marine rifleman, or an NFL quarterback, or EMT, or solo truck driver. We need to stop telling people they can not only do anything they want, but everything they want.
It's not a great deal to raise the kids and support the household while your absent S.O. spends all their time trying/failing to become some V.C.'s lottery ticket.
(I'm not talking about CEOs of well-funded startups. I'm talking about all the people who throw their lives away chasing that dream in circles around the startup-industrial complex.)
Just because someone has kids doesn't mean they're spending the same time with them... also age of the kids matter. High school kids don't need as much help with things as little kids.
It's not a must that woman work in this day and age.
Unless we're relegating/gatekeeping 50+ year olds from starting startups? Especially during retirement, there's still a lot of time to do stuff.
The vast majority of people seem to live in denial that ageing is a fact of life and that you get slower and less energetic as you age and that you start ageing immediately (at 20 you're already losing somethings you had when you were younger), not when you're 65.
To the extent that’s impossible because you “fall off the track,” I agree that’s an problem.
Even for the roles that are incompatible we should strive to give the humans who specialize in those roles (and most such roles are highly specialized) as many opportunities as we can to take extended breaks from their duties to raise small kids if they wish without fearing for their financial security. I believe we will be very thankful for such policies once all those kids reach adulthood.
I think prospective mothers in tech should find common cause with other groups of people who suffer because the expectation is that everything in a startup is event driven and that each event is automatically the highest priority.
When a plane crashes, we expect the NTSB to be 'responsive'. The meaning we use here is a quality we generally expect large organizations to lose - the ability to notice problems, take them seriously, and aggressively work to do something about them. That's not the same definition that I see people apply to startups. Startups are instead chronically run like a Skinner box, only you're the box.
If my career has a thesis it's that we have tools, literal and figurative, that let us "move fast and not break things". For some developers these tools seem like nice to have or a distraction (the White Knuckle Crew), for others they only see the value during an incident or a crunch, but to others they're essential for sanity, be you remote, a night owl, easily distracted, disabled, long commute, a caregiver, or prospective parent/pet owner.
From my knothole it seems like a lot of the infrastructure people build up in order to become an 'adult' organization is presumed to be something that you develop in-house shortly after the Last Responsible Moment, instead of something we expect from our tools out of the box. But that's probably more a consequence of the fact that few people demand it, so it hasn't gotten done.
If everyone has to be a hero, then you get mostly unattached bachelors in moderate to perfect health. Do you want an Old Boy's Network? Because that's how you get an Old Boy's Network.
I think it's possible that male, man, men can be substituted for female, woman, women in this article and have it be just as true except for this:
> But what people without kids may not realize is the extent to which people with kids want their time to be consumed by them. And, on the whole, I’d guess women more so than men.
I have no data on that.
So on the whole my expectation would have been that this desire to be home and with their kids is universal among men and women working parents, and probably equal across genders.
But I think that this problem does not need to be solved "society-wide" but does need to be universally solvable for any interested individual, regardless of gender. Practically, with technology not with policy.
I guess, because if you have two startups of about 6+ years of age you can't just tell them to go to their room and play and leave you alone. hmm, maybe a kid isn't a startup after all.
Quote applies equally to men and women.
The fact is that there are 24 hours in a day. If you put 4 into your kids that’s great, but there’s someone else putting those 4 into the company. Success is not all about time invested — Elon Musk at 1 hour a day will outperform me with 8 hours a day — but people make their choices in life and I don’t think it’s fair for my group putting in 8 hours a day to ask for the same outcomes from the market as the group putting in 12+.
Just like that one person at a job who apparently "does all the the work". At least according to them. To hear them tell it, the entire enterprise would collapse if they weren't holding it together by sheer force of will. But surprisingly, the place operated just fine before they were brought on and it'll operate fine after.
It's just that we get so focused on our contributions that we don't see what others do as contributions. I'm sure the parents who don't take the kids to soccer practice see soccer practice as "time off" to some degree. Sure, you have to drive and what not, but once you're there, you're just sitting around. And blah blah.
I think I may be experiencing this right now. We just bought a house and we've been getting it set up and what not. My wife is an elementary school teacher at the school her son attends. So she's finishing the school year in that district. And since it's an hour and half drive each way, it's easier for her and the kid to stay with her mother.
It's been a steady stream of ordering what we needed, building those things, etc. I've felt like I've not really had any time off. Especially since I'm doing this around work. I'm under the impression my wife has not seen it that way. Either through underestimating build times or just not being aware. I've pointed out things and she's said that she flat out did not notice.
Also, there's a thing the kid likes to do. There's a certain game we play and it's me and him. She can spectate, but the actual play involves me. I'm not 100% into this game for various reasons, but I recognize that it's important to him and it's also important to spend that time with him. It may be a response from my own childhood, but I do not brush off his requests for time lightly. And I don't dictate how we play or socialize either. I leave that mostly up to him. He needs to explore his own creativity and whatnot. I think my wife gets a touch jealous about the ways he favors me in some regards. And it's hard to talk about it, because in my opinion, it's because if she wants to do something else, she'll push it to "later" or she'll try and change the manner in which he plays because it's not "right". Basically, she's trying to define the interaction on her terms, while I allow him to define it on his.
But she probably sees some of the time I spend with him as "time off" whereas I see it as performing not exactly a chore, but not as leisure time either.
But who gets to define work and who gets to define leisure?
So, I have issues with the whole "emotional labor" movement. It reeks of the person I mentioned in the beginning, someone who can only see their own contributions.
Ultimately, it comes down to the question of whether or not something makes your life easier or harder. If it makes your life easier, maybe don't bite the hand that feeds you.
Personally, I think everyone should live truly alone, no roommates, no partners, just them and whatever pets they may have. See what it takes to literally do everything required. I think it would give a lot of people perspective.
Also, I'm an active participant in the play. I have voices to do, commentary to make, activities to perform. There's a whole universe of characters in his room engaged in various competitions. Ignoring him isn't really an option.
Sometimes it really feels like I'm just switching between wife, kid, work, and friends.
Startups take a lot of time. As much as you can give.
So do kids.
Time is measured out and cannot be consumed all at once for your startup or kids.
We can't expect people with kids to succeed in the startup world without kids and parents losing out.
I don't have a coherent thesis, but I've been thinking a lot about the connection between the collapse of civil society, the proliferation of loneliness, and the fact that so many children are being raised by transient strangers they have no real ties to. It strikes me as a blueprint for a dystopian society.
To complicate it further, birth control isn't made free for everyone and in many areas on earth, sex education is poor if it exists at all - not to mention that abortion services, if they are legal where you are, aren't always available either - for those times when birth control fails or other complications arise.
I'll also say that most of the "we have too many people on the planet" arose from attitudes looking down on others, often from countries of origin, racism, and the like. We know how to help lower birth rates (widely available contraception and sex education) - but we aren't doing this - and we can feed everyone now, but we (as humans on average) don't put it as a priority - as seen by not shipping surplus to folks that would happily eat it.
We really need to get rid of this mindset, unless we are ok with the occasional population cull by war (we aren't, right?)
Or a pandemic.
But you also might be, which is very important to add to all of these motivational quips
I mean if the job sucks, and you can't afford it then don't do it. There is always an alternative option if you possess the skill set to succeed in startup scene. Applies both to men and women.
At a population level, this is still likely something women tend to prioritize more than men, and that you usually can’t have it all, but I don’t want to miss my kids growing up and no company is worth missing that, the one exception being all the COVID response work we’ve been doing. That’s been a worthwhile (and temporary) trade-off.
Just wanted to say that there are also fathers struggling with that balance.
Absolutely, submit an article and we'll discuss it there.
>We can’t expect more women to succeed in the startup world until we’re able to talk honestly about how much harder startups are for those who want to spend a lot of time with their kids...We’ll never reach our potential as female founders until we acknowledge that each woman’s attitude towards children is different.
The idea that just "talking honestly" will change the inescapable realities of everything discussed before this paragraph nearly dismantles the point she's trying to make. She acknowledges that "on the whole" women want their time to be consumed more by kids than by career success. She acknowledges that even she herself has turned down a position that would grant her more success and power, but did so for a cause she deemed valuable and does not regret it. The logical conclusion of her argument and personal life experience is that not all women are the same, but that women are more likely to decline more successful positions, not because of discrimination or some systemic barrier, but because they'd rather focus on their family.
But instead of suggesting that we accept that fewer women are going to succeed in the startup world, she's suggesting that "honest talk" about how hard it is will magically increase their success. How would "honest talk" have changed her totally rational and uncompelled decision to decline a CEO position? How would recognizing that the potential of some female founders is limited by their priorities towards children help other, possibly childless, female founders reach their potential?
The last paragraph reads as an apology for what would have been the natural conclusion of her argument, but which she dare not say because suggesting that we accept anything less that full parity of success between men and women in positions of power is forbidden. She should have stuck to the idea that people need to be treated like individuals with different priorities and not to the idea that women need to be treated like a group collective.
Without a true and open reckoning of the costs of a path, people can't make good decisions about the path. Will a true and open reckoning of the costs of a path make the path one people choose? No, not on its own. But it's part of it.
Deep down I think we all agree that both startups and involving yourself in your children's lives take a lot of time and effort, and that we should respect an individual's free choice to determine what balance works for them. But many are struggling with an opposing ideal that necessarily cannot coexist. For example, by declining the CEO position, she's actively working against the ideal of having an equal number of female CEOs to male CEOs.
In the US we’ve created a set of incentives which work to put women at a disadvantage in the workplace if they become parents. Men, not so much, and largely because of this imbalance, even progressive couples fall into this paradigm.
In the EU they mandate equal paid leave for both parents and require holding a job for them when they return to the workplace . This means that not only are parents given the opportunity to share actual parenting, but also that their children wind up with better care by their actual parents for the vital early months of their existence.
It’s time the US adopted such protections and embraced them culturally.
I actually disagree, and that's the reason I loved this article so much: it acknowledges that, at the upper end, you do have to choose.
Of course, everyone should be able to have a career and also have children, and I agree that there are a lot of things society can do to make this an easier tradeoff. However, should everyone be able to be the CEO of a high growth startup (if that's your chosen career), and also have kids? Perhaps some people can manage that, but without a good support system in place (which usually means a stay-at-home spouse or at least enough for a nanny) one or the other usually suffers.
Fundamentally, life is about choices. Time is finite, so you can either spend some specific hour going over sales projections, or you can spend it with your kids - you can't do both. Even if the government had better leave policies, it's not like they can enforce you to take it. If you want to be the CEO of a startup, and you choose to spend your hour taking care of your kids, there is a good chance some other CEO is reviewing their sales projections. This is just the reality of living in a competitive economy.
I didn't say that one should never be allowed to choose between being the CEO or having children at the same time, but I do think it's a societal failure if the choice is between having a career at all and having children, especially if that's a gendered ultimatum.
I may actually disagree with you on the CEO point in another way however -
Who knows, but I suspect some CEOs manage to spend time with their kids and run a successful company. As you say there are tradeoffs in life, and some people choose to have a family and others choose to take up fly fishing or something. It doesn't seem like this necessarily precludes anyone from starting a successful company. Some may even find that parenting gives them the insight they need to be successful in business.
It can't be any other way. If one is willing to give up everything for X, they are almost certainly going to do better at X compared to equivalent folks who aren't willing to give it up.
And, it isn't a choice society makes. Individuals make it, for themselves.
Society isn't failing in the sense of having to make choices. Society is failing when it glorifies those to give up everything for X. It's just a choice, and it's usually not glorious.
Here's a question for you: how many innovations (or whatever else you expect to benefit society from a high-growth startup or whatever) are we missing because people cannot do both?
The weird thing about competitive environments is that above some level, winners and losers seem to be chosen based on everything except the competitive skill.
I think there are issues here though.
> you shouldn’t have to choose between a career and having children.
I'm not sure what you mean by this. If ones chosen career consumes a lot of time, the time comes from somewhere regardless of your gender.
> In the EU they mandate equal paid leave for both parents and require holding a job for them when they return to the workplace . This means that not only are parents given the opportunity to share actual parenting, but also that their children wind up with better care by their actual parents for the vital early months of their existence.
Indeed, and this is reflective of many things. One of which is the idea that society should encourage and/or protect the decision to have progeny beyond the gender imbalance inherent in the fact that men as a sex cannot bear children.
It's possibly a harder sell in the US because of the immense value placed on individual liberty.
Even now with many people working bullshit jobs going part time is career death.
In the US, the incentives which put women at a disadvantage in the workplace date from before there were many women in the workplace. Weirdly, we have doubled-down on them after women entered the workforce in large numbers, particularly in the tech industry. This probably means something.
Secondly, the site you link to says, "Both parents are entitled to at least 4 months leave each." Which is my issue with parental leave: I see it as a red herring. I mean, what happens in the other, roughly, 17 years and 8 months? (Yes, I know the EU is better in that regard, too, but focusing at all on parental leave rather than general work-life balance seems a little silly.)
Having children is a career. Of course you have to choose which career to take.
Every man who has kids needs to be there for the kids even if their spouse is a stay-at-home parent.
I say this as a dad.
I do my damnest to split parenting duties without her having to ask.
Might be worth mentioning that actually, few people will care about you having written a book or other projects. It highlights the danger of comparing oneself to an arbitrarily chosen peer group.
Ultimately though, I fail to understand why anyone without the proper time to devote to a child would chose to have one.
It strikes me that questioning this assumption would be a very good thing for improving the situation of women in the workplace.
less interest or less opportunity?
This is a straight-up sexist assumption about the intrinsic interests of fathers in parenting.
This line reads harshly on women's ability to make critical career decisions.
Real advice is from your grandmother: make ye bed and lay in it.
If a person wants children, that's a conscious choice with happiness, sacrifice and burdens garuanteed. There is no fairy dust, wanna-have-it-all solution. I feel like people of all cultures and ages understood this and it's our generation that's perplexed at everything like chimps let loose in a city.
AFAICT when she says "It seemed horrible", she means "I would not like to be in your shoes", and NOT "you are not devoting the proper time and that is harmful".
Unless it’s a bad case of divorce, of course that would seem weird and detrimental. Who would consider that normal?
I agree, and will may involuntarily postpone having kids because of that reason alone.
Trying to set up the perfect nest, or to save "enough", is not a game that most people can win.
At least, the above is from what I have seen of friends that had kids, compared with those that delayed too long.
None of the people I know who have kids started trying for them until their 30s.
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying your 20s and having kids when you’re ready.
Another pattern is seeing people in their thirties finding it harder to adjust to the necessary changes because they have got accustomed to a lifestyle.
Jordan Peterson and Warren Farrell on The Boy Crisis and Gender Politics - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8AA1lR3CC4s
I've watched a lot of his videos and read his books. I never saw him mock mental disease or say that addiction was for the weak (unless to the extent that all humanity is weak). That just doesn't sound like the type of thing Peterson would say. I have a hard time believing you.