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What nobody says about startup moms (femfosec.com)
184 points by femfosec 3 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 276 comments

I thought this was a great article, because it acknowledged a fundamental fact: life is all about choices, and for too long many people were fed the lie that "you can have it all".

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.

Its way worse than that. Western culture right now says, "You need it all." Learning to make choices that fit with reality, instead of this lie, is hard. There's a lot of implicit judgement for choosing different priorities than the people around you.

The phrase I like to tell people that tends to stick better, IMHO:

You can do anything you want, but you can't do everything you want.

Coming to the realization that I can't have it all a few years ago was liberating and has greatly improved my mental health. I used to pursue too many things naively thinking I could excel at all of them. I'm now content with knowing that picking one path 100% means you're excluding other paths, and there's nothing wrong with that.

> 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.

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 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.

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.

The phrase "the days are long, but the years are short" has taken on a new meaning for me after having a child.

Some days are quite long indeed.

And nights as well for that matter.

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.

Nights are merely day minus light. The days are just ... long.

> It blew my mind when I heard someone say "kids are only toddlers for a couple of years"

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.

It still fascinates me as to how things look from the outside. I'm turning 40 this year, and have no kids of my own, but I have a 5-year-old nephew and 1.5-year-old niece. Unfortunately I haven't seen the niece in person since before the pandemic, when she was only a couple months old.

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 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.

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.

Yet a third way is that the younger you are, the greater the percentage of your lived life is represented by a year.

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.

That's a good insight but I think you're underselling things - most folks don't really have experiences of any sort from their <3 years. I think it's also pretty common for teens to consider themselves five or so years prior to be different people due to how fast you're maturing. When you're making a decision to choose which college to go to I think it's fair to view that as deciding what to do with the next third of your life from a teenager's perspective.

Once it's spent, it doesn't really matter how, except insofar as it's left you with something afterwards. Three people standing side by side, one of them partied their whole twenties, the other focused on career, the last had kids. They're all thirty, so that's the same, but one of them clearly is worse off.

Extend your analogy out in time: Three people in their 90s, laying side by side at their deathbeds. One filled their life with friends and experiences, the other did nothing but work, the other raised children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.

Now who is the winner and who the loser?

The one with kids has visitors so probably them. Old people can get pretty lonely if they don't have descendants. It's not talked about often but it's a really important part of not being miserable when you're 90.

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.

Huge assumption that someone has visitors just because they had kids.

More likely your kids visit than your party buddies from decades ago.

Honestly it's a tiny assumption, nobody's perfect but it takes being terrible for your kids to avoid saying goodbye on your deathbed.

I guess you could call it a necessary but insufficient condition.

> Now who is the winner and who the loser?

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.

The point of the example is to show that there is no objective measure of success in life

None of them is winning; they're all dying.

Winning is a category error at this point.

It seems like you're firmly on the side of the one with kids, but outside the rhetoric this is an interesting personal question to ask yourself. It puts the opportunity cost of working into perspective and makes you re-evaluate the importance of your work.

As someone who partied away my teens and early twenties, then spent seven years working 14/7/365 founding a successful company, and finally got married and had 2 kids a couple of years ago, I can tell you that the family is by far the most meaningful and important. I regret the drinking and partying. I wish I had prioritized family sooner.

> It seems like you're firmly on the side of the one with kids

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.

The only thing it can leave you with that truly matters is fulfillment. It couldn't be any less clear which of the three — if any — is worse off.

I guess it's possible to slip in to the geriatric backward-looking phase of life at 30, finding fulfillment in memories, but that sounds pretty bad to me, to be honest. That's like, 12 good years in your whole life.

Which one?

I assume the one who focused on their career since they likely didn't actually accumulate any significant wealth while missing out on all the fun due to the way we compensate workers.

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[1].

1. http://www.galactanet.com/oneoff/theegg_mod.html

It's horrifying as a parent who used to think and act like a child, to see someone who used to be completely dependent upon you, give you unconditional love and beg for your attention, suddenly transform into an independent human being capable of all sorts of things, without your approval even. The older they get the faster they progress. Soon they'll even host their own diner parties.

And the constant worries of becoming your own parents. Kids really mess you up.

Kids are the only people in your life the longer you know them, the less you know them.

> It also helps to remember that "they grow up so fast" is cliche, but it's true.

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.

I think a lot of that comes from parents often expressing all the negatives of parenthood rather than the positives. Even the ones who love spending time with their kids, in my experience, talk more about how much attention the kids need, taking them to school, the diaper changes, the crying, and so on. This isn't to say that all parents are like this; I've met some really passionate parents, and my parents relished raising me. But in interpersonal discussions as well as popular media, parenthood is usually portrayed as a chore and even a "whoopsie".

I was visiting my wife's family in Fiji and it was amazing how much more attention my boy, a toddler got there than in North America. Females of all ages from like 12-100 would dote on him, ask to hold him and talk to him. In North America women treat him like he's diseased whereas my dog gets lots of attention. Weird. There really is a cultural bias against kids here.

> In North America women treat him like he's diseased

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.

I live in the American Midwest. The young women who want kids stay here and (usually) find a man and have kids. The ones who don't want kids badly and or want careers move away much more often. I'm wagering they end up near you. When I had a baby or a toddler they would get oohs and ahs, everywhere I went. That is quite normal here. Your story sounds much like self-selection to me seeing it from the other end.

Upvoted, but I wanted to clarify that I think that's regional in the US.

I think that’s generally true of all descriptions of activities — we simply prefer to list the bad, as commiserating is more socially acceptable than “bragging” about how nice something is. See also: chewing fat over how work sucks rather than how happy you are to be working on interesting stuff, “the ol ball and chain” not how nice it is to have stable relationship, “fucking landlords taking all my money” not convenience of having someone else pay for repairs and assuming risk, etc.

This is why "critical thinking" is overrated. Becoming good at critical thinking means that you become good at critique - the process of describing the flaws of something.

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...

Critical thinking is overrated in the sense that it's hard to distinguish from using superficially skeptical language. Being understanding epistemology and being flexible in thinking is more useful than being a curmudgeon who assumes anything that isn't intuitive is bullshit.


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...

I think a large part of it is that the good things are so hard to describe and the bad things are pretty universally understood.

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 see this all the time and I really don't understand it. Like, if that's how you feel then why did you have kids? But if I ever say that to someone they'll take offense.

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.

> Like, if that's how you feel then why did you have kids?

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.

We're all little feedback loops on the inside though. Talking about something isn't a consequence-free action--it mentally primes you for more of that thing.

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 see complaining for the sake of complaining as a negative-utility activity

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?"

Asking for advice is not "complaining for the sake of complaining."

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.

I think you're taking a sample set of 1 and applying it to an entire population.

> 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!

Helpful to keep in mind it might not have been their preference to have a kid. Many pregnancies are unplanned. Delicate subject though for sure.

One comment a friend said that always stuck with me was "I have never regretted any time I spent with my children".

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.

This is the line I have more of an issue with:

> 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?

There’s a large pressure for women to be empowered, have a career and a family. Many of these people might have chosen kids instead of career, or career instead of kids a decade or two ago.

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.

One of the biggest issue with all this is "We lost the community in the pursuit of individuality". It takes a village to raise a child. I grew up in kind a commune. Most of the days kids would be on the streets playing, eat / sleep in their neighbours house. Moms were able to manage house as stay at home moms (hardest yet under-appreciated job) relatively better because of this community care provided for children.

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.

Cities dwellers lose out on such things

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.

One thing that doesn't help at all: cars. I grew up riding bikes and skating on our street. The street was almost entirely free of parked cars. That same street now would have a dozen parked cars most days. Some houses will have a car or two in their driveway and another couple on the street. All of those cars reduce visibility to the point that I wouldn't let my kids play unsupervised on that street - risk of a car reversing out, of the kids riding out of a driveway into a passing car, of a skateboard hitting a parked car, etc.

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 live in the suburbs, and that lifestyle is more or less impossible for my children. Everything is a car-drive away, which means that everyone drives which means that cars are everywhere. It's the opposite of a virtuous circle.

>>Cities dwellers lose out on such things.

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.

That (sterile and cold) tracks with my experience in the US as well. I rented in various buildings for 16+ years and never knew even one of my neighbors.

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.

Your experience of the US is true insofar as I've experienced the larger cities in the US. Once you get out of the cities, into more suburban areas... at least where I grew up in the midwest... that kind of community sense you speak of becomes more prevalent in neighborhoods.

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.

I think the root of that problem is also investing in reducing single mothers. The US has the highest rate of single mothers globally iirc and that isn't a good thing. Not only are these women likely raising a child in a single income, but they most often are raising them during times of their lives when they should be in college or forging careers...or frankly getting married.

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.

Yes, and we just threw away what little shared child-raising community we did have with Covid restrictions. Raising children isolated and alone is absolutely against every instinct, and (I think) incredibly bad for the long-term health and welfare of all involved.

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.

This doesn't take care of the aspect of parents wanting to spend time with their kids. It's just "we need more daycare options so that mothers can focus more on their careers".

One of my strongest socioeconomic stances is that the nuclear family was a mistake.

But the opposite all too often results in a situation where family trees become power structures and that's how you time-travel back into the middle ages.

I am honestly completely lost as to how the extended family and/or communal living is "time travel back into the middle ages".

What would your preferred alternative be?

Extended family living, as was the norm for the vast majority of human history up until the mid 20th (and is still a fairly equal alternative in many parts of the world).

How is this related to op's comment?

I would have thought the connection between the sequestering of nuclear families in single family homes and the dwindling of communal childcare/rise of expensive commercial childcare options to be fairly obvious.

I feel the same pressures. Like I'm a failure for not wanting what it feels like so much of silicon valley thinks all of silicon valley wants. But nope, I'm supposed to be passionate about work. This sort of toxic work culture seems worse in startups especially.

> 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.

Indeed. I don’t think it really helps women in the workplace if we just go along with the assumption that men are more work focussed and women more family focussed.

I worked two startups where I had kids. One where I had one kid, and another where I had two kids. Startups plus babies is hard no matter what sex you are.

Up all night with baby and always-on work. Its a recipe that will drive anyone to the brink.

There is a very cool startup in Brazil creating a startup accelerator meant only for moms. Check it out if this interests you: https://www.b2mamy.com.br/

I think the author makes a great point. In fact, I think that your attitude to parenting even determines the kind of startup you're able to run.

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.

> I remember chatting with a woman at a work event one night and asking if she needed to go home soon because of her kids. She replied, “No, I see my kids on weekends.” I couldn’t help but cringe thinking about what it would be like to only see my son on weekends. It seemed horrible!

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.

> Ordinary working people don't spend a ton of quality time with their kids during the week.

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.”

Kids of even really young ages are more capable than we give them credit for. A four year old is perfectly capable of helping prep dinner, provided you line up the right tasks. ("Tear up this lettuce, get 5 forks out, ...."). By six years old, a child should easily be comfortable handling more complex tasks like emptying/loading dishes, cutting up ingredients, kneading dough, or measuring out items from a recipe. (Provided they can be loosely measured.)

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.

If they're going to have screen time, you can make it a show that they are fully engaged with, but you watch while cooking/cleaning/etc so you can share the experience/discussion with them. My kids got very keen on the survival show Alone which prompts loads of conversations about survival choices, gear, building, the wild environment, etc. And it's not so fast paced that you can't keep up with the season's stories while hanging washing or cooking.

I could just as easily say that quality time is actually a useful metric and as a kid I definitely would've preferred a parent who spends more time with me on the weekends and wasn't "just around". Maybe I could bring a quote from a comedian too. I don't see what any of that would bring to the conversation though.

Research has indicated that there is an immersive quality to just "being there". Part of a relationship is rapport - hard to build that when you're only there 2 days of the week - the bonding will go to the actual caregiver.

Taking your kid to school / after-school activities allows for bonding as well.

What research?

You could just as easily say that but it wouldn't be equally plausible.

It would be equally as sourced, though.

> [...] get back home at 5:30 or later just in time to throw together or eat dinner [...]

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,

is huge.

Not only that, but kids notice it when you're not there, and they grow to resent you for it regardless of what your explanation for being gone is. This can either be a physical absence or an emotional absence.

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.

>Any way you slice it, weekday time-with-kids for someone with a normal job is pretty crap.

It's not crap for the kids, and that's all that's important.

Right, being there at all has some value, but both the quantity and quality of actual time with them, rather than just near them but entirely distracted by other life-crap, isn't high.

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.

Children need consistency and reliability from their parents. It becomes even more apparent as they get older- they will not be able to take risks in their lives if they have been looking over their shoulders their whole lives trying to adapt to a capricious world of 'this week Mommy wants to be X, and Daddy's moving to be closer to his new girlfriend'. There is no amount of 'quality' you can add to a couple of afternoons that will replace the work done of being there day in, day out. It has nothing to do with quality of food or cleanliness of the bathroom.

> 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

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.

It's not crap for parents, either. I read my kids stories every night before bedtime. It was one of the highlights of my day for almost two decades. We finally stalled out 100 pages from the end of Diary of Anne Frank when the last one was 13. It's not just Cat in the Hat. ;)

I have fond childhood memories of my dad on weekday evenings: card games; scrabble; quick swims in the ocean; sneaking out of bed if he made nachos late at night.

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.

Kids are a distraction to intense work. At the same time, becoming a parent is a potential growth experience that is unrivaled and brings value. Healthy kids are a value to society. Non-parents benefit from a society full of healthy children. Parents should be rewarded--or at least equally as compensated--with pay and/or status that tracks with the successes those unburdened with parenting achieve.

Pay/status/compensation from your employer? If that's what you're suggesting, I strongly disagree. That's hardly the role of any company. And it implicitly ties value judgments to your workplace, which is a very sad state of affairs. You don't need corporate recognition to validate your decisions.

Corporate recognition very nearly makes the world go ‘round any more. I’m not really sure what to make if your comments, but I’ll clarify that in terms of status and compensation, I’m thinking more about public policy as a starting point.

that's unfortunate, I didn't think I was that unintelligible. In any case we do agree that this is the realm of government. That wasn't very clear to me in your original comment since pay and status are typically conferred by employers in American society.

I think one thing the aristocracy got right was that your children are a reflection of you as a parent. That seems to have been lost nowadays in the US. Nowadays, a problem kid is due to video games, school, peers, you name it. No, it's the parent, 95% of the time. But we let the parents off with they did their best..but did they?

While I agree with you that it's mostly the parents, I think we poorly equip and support parents. Many have had poor role models to begin with and without external influence are doomed to repeat history. Support for parents is quite poor IMO and should be massively increased. Unfortunately, our society requires children to continue the next generation but we seem to value child-less people more (in our rewards to them).

Most people have kids because they see it as a positive personal trade off (when you are older and you have a family that will come to visit you for example). Most people are not thinking about the benefits to society when they decide to have kids.

Well, it certainly may be a net positive for the individual parent, but it’s no doubt a service to society. I’d suspected your opinion was out there, but it’s still disheartening to have proof.

> Kids are a distraction to intense work.

For what it's worth, I've done my most intense productive work after having children.

Same for me due to the growth I talked about, but many people report not being able to do as much work as they want to while parenting.

Kind of a post hoc ergo propter hoc situation.

Note that I did not claim that I did my best work because of my kids. Only that my work is an existence proof that the presence of kids does not prevent intense work.

Yeah and your original comment wasn't worth much. How do you know your work wouldn't have been better if you hadn't had kids? Maybe your definition of intense changed when you had kids?

> Yeah and your original comment wasn't worth much.

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.

> Healthy kids are a value to society

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.

> Kids have a massive carbon footprint and are probably the worst thing a person in the first world 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.

This is of course a pretty troll-y argument. Mass murder is massively wrong and unethical, procreation choices are at worst arguably defensible.

(Unless you're a religious fanatic of the contraception=murder variety...)

I don’t think that’s what I’m saying at all.

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.

> I’m saying that a new kid is not a no-brainer net gain for society

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.

No, you’re right. I did mean that having a biological kid is the worst thing a person in the first world can do to the environment.

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.

Yeah, see, there’s a shocking proliferation of really misguided ideas on this topic. It’s fascinating.

It strikes me that there is some kind of cognitive dissonance that prevents people from recognizing their time as a commodity. I understand and support the push to normalize women in the workplace in leadership positions but there seems to be a failure to recognize the cost.

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.

I think the problem is different.

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.

I think the armchair mental illness diagnosis is a bit much, but otherwise agree.

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.

I think you're right in that for many people, life is directionless without work and a schedule handed to them. I find it incredible that there are politicians in their 70s and 80s - especially considering the demands that job would have in terms of travel and public events. Buy a caravan and go on an extended holiday like the stereotypical retiree!

And that there are exceptionally wealthy people still with their nose to the grindstone.

Those politicians and businesses people are living their best life, doing the thing they are excellent at. Not what I’d do in their situations but no one asks why a novelist or painter is still practicing their art in their 90s.

An artist or writer would have the bulk of their time in their studio or at their desk. Things that people aspire to do as a hobby. There'd optionally be time at galleries/openings.

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.

These politicians and businesspeople are also doing things they’d do as a hobby. They’re talking to tons of people, organizing things and getting things done. They’re doing extrovert things. Not my preference but de gustibus non est disputandum.

Fair enough. I'm sure there are similar opportunities with less gruelling schedules though! I remember reading a HN thread years ago about retirement hastening decline for some people. I guess many just don't know different or don't find/enjoy hobbies in a holiday context (fossicking for gems, photography, fishing, etc). For an extrovert, it might be volunteering, but then I guess maybe the 80yo politician views what they're doing as volunteering.

> I think the armchair mental illness diagnosis is a bit much, but otherwise agree.

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.

Actually I think making money into the billions is a symptom of obsessive compulsive disorder.

But I have no power, so my opinion is cheep!

> Nobody should work that hard.

> 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 care not about professional sport. If I ruled the world they would not exist. Terrible incentives to incredibly unhealthy behaviour.

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.

I did an exercise once where I budgeted time for a full month. It forced me to know/accept/realise up-front I couldn't do at least 40% of the things I wanted. There simply wasn't time. That was really unpleasant even though I knew I would never have actually managed to do that extra 40%. I haven't repeated the exercise because although it was useful, it was simply too unpleasant. I trade some inefficiency and disappointment later for enthusiasm now.

So I'm happily cognitively discontent I guess.

Ill take it a step further: I think child rearing is incredibly difficult if both parents are entirely focused on their careers and view them as their top priority.

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 think it's because time just happens, so it's easy to not think about how you're spending it compared to spending money, for instance.

I think you are right about the lack of recognizing time value, but the rest of the problem is making assumptions based on sex or anything else and then proscribing them. There are all kinds of people who do t fit into all these nice little labels being thrown about, and they also get neglected.

I don't know if it's fair to classify this as just a mom problem. I'm having the same problems as a Dad.

To be fair, it's a blog targeted at female founders. I think it's treated as a mom problem because of the audience, not the problem.

(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)

Perhaps the issue is classifying it as a "problem" in the first place. As in, why is it considered problematic to want to spend more time w/ kids knowing it affects work-related opportunities? We generally accept that we can't master dozens of hobbies at once due to the inability to put the necessary time and effort into all of them, so why then is it considered a failure to pick one of the choices if the two conflicting activities are family time and main job?

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>

Hell, I'm having the same problem as the foster parent of a cattle dog! Near constant demand for attention, wanting lots of play time and exercise and mental stimulation and affection... I don't have kids but I imagine it is similar!

Take all of what you described and add, "Are the decisions and interactions I had with my child today going to eternally fuck up their future ability to be an adult?" and you begin to see the scope of being a parent.

Right, the most "successful" friends I have are all childless or divorced without children living with them.

Yeah, as a busy new dad dipping my toes in the startup world, I was cringing the entire time wondering why they seem to assume this only applies to women.

I quit my startup & picked up a boring, stable job to be a better dad a couple years ago, so I feel this too.

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.

> If the article said it’s only hard for moms, then I’d disagree with it... but it doesn’t.

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.

Right, that's what rubbed me the wrong way.

I’ve worked harder established companies than I ever did at startups.

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.

The focus on "start-ups" here, while not exclusively, does sway far toward the VC-model, of course because that's also YC's model.

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.).

The hypergrowth, VC-funded startup model virtually depends on founders and executives investing 100% of their time and energy into the company. With most startups trying to capture new markets, if you don't give 100% then your competitors will.

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.

> Is that model nearly incompatible with parenting?

According to the author, pretty much.


I think they are quite incompatible. Me and my wife have a 1y4m old and we mostly don't do anything else nowadays. Other than that we have (had?) a startup that is now mostly on hold, except for some hacking that we do now and then when one of our mothers is around.

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 really do not mean any offense by this - but how is a nearly one and a half year old requiring full-time attention from two people?

I ask this as a single dad of two kids, one of them since they were < 1.

One parent serves as redundancy for the other. I don’t know how you did it, but when we had just one baby/toddler, and no other kids or relatives to watch them, one adult is constantly watching the kid, and the other is taking care of household tasks.

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.

That’s fair, but perhaps there are also some parents that pay far more attention to their children than they really require or is even healthy for them.

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.

By garbage time, I mean I can't productively use the time I'm spending being responsible for the kid to do any involved task.

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.

"but it's not long before they see you on the laptop or whatever and want to get up in your lap."

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.

I don’t necessarily obey them, but I find it difficult to work when a toddler is going crazy around you.

I hear you, 100% - it’s not easy no matter how you cut it. Infants and toddlers are a handful and they love playing with their parents!

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!

", one adult is constantly watching the kid, and the other is taking care of household tasks"

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 can do some household tasks, but I was referring to work that requires concentration and no interruptions.

For us it’s me “mostly” working - supporting our existing clients, taking care of investments (sometimes trading a bit), shopping, cooking (taking turns in this one). She is mostly with the kid and when he is sleeping, she does cleaning and other chores. Also sometimes I look after him and she works for clients (when she is more suitable) The company is definitely not progressing. At best we are able to stand still. I don’t think when you are with the kid it’s spare time.

Ah, that makes much more sense, in that you’re not completely stalled on the startup, just more maintaining. Sorry for the misunderstanding!

"we mostly don't do anything else nowadays" != "requiring full time attention"

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.

OP seems to think that looking after a single child is more effort than available from two parents, one of whom has an office job

I didn’t say it’s impossible. We can optimize our time better, we can hire a nanny, she can stop breastfeeding at several months of age etc. But do we want to? It’s a personal/family decision and it’s definitely based on circumstances and necessities. Historically people have raised children in dire conditions. Still would I rather do a startup or have a regular job while raising babies? I don’t think I would ever go the startup route. Would I do a startup otherwise? Hell yeah. You may think differently, but my bubble definitely leans towards either having babies or startups, not both - I know some failed marriages and/or startups while trying both. Of course, there is also the rare success in both (I know one such).

Oh, by all means if you’re able to choose to do so via the means and desire, I think it’s a great opportunity for not only your child, but also for you and your spouse. I was more surprised at what seemed like was a suggestion that you can’t go back to work or else it would be markedly more difficult for your spouse.

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!

Yeah, and also COVID didn’t help either. We would definitely hire hourly babysitters, daycare etc, but with COVID it’s not that straightforward. Probably we will try something like that from now on, after we got our vaccines

Some children require more attention than others.

god knows how normal people cope!

We are wondering the same, especially during the pandemic

As a counter example, my wife started a company when she was pregnant with our second child, and then raised millions of dollars in her first round when the child was a few months old. The company is still going strong and she is prepping to raise another round. And our child is a beautiful, happy toddler now.

That’s very impressive. I can’t imagine how that’s doable based on my experience of wife’s breastfeeding and sleep schedules.

That's impressive - if you don't mind me asking - how much did you get involved to help out or were you 100% focused on work as well? If the latter, did you outsource (nanny) at all?

I helped at the very beginning before she had a CTO, built an alpha version that we tested with customers (which led to a very different product). This was while she was pregnant, we worked nights after we put our kid to bed, and I took some time off of work to help too. Our kid is older and was in school at the time, so wasn't around the house during weekdays. Sometimes on Sunday my wife would watch our kid while I hacked away. This was pre-COVID.

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.)

Who doesn't want twice as much time? I wish I didn't have to sleep sometimes. But if my wish came true I still wouldn't have enough time. Alas, we all have to decide what to spend our time on and, therefore, what not to spend our time on.

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.

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.

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.

Part of that is because we hear so many successful business people portrayed as also being great parents. I have seen so many of those that I knew first-hand to be fabrications that I just assume them to be false now.

Or they have a spouse doing all the heavy lifting at home.

Yep. And, as 90% of startups fail, those spouses also need to bring money to the table.

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.)

Exactly. My boss's wife is at home doing all the kid stuff while both my wife and I work. Yet he talks to me like he has the exact same challenges.

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.

You have the exact same challenges. He just was able to overcome them better than you, by having/picking/convincing a wife who takes care of the home. You all made your choices.

I guess so. I mean, he's from a generation when most women didn't work and I'm from a generation when most women do work. He bought his house long before prices skyrocketed, I wasn't in the workforce until long after they did. So, I'm not sure it's a fair comparison, but you're not wrong either.

So your wife has to work because your house was so expensive? I wonder about the place where you live. When your boss bought his home, was it cheap everywhere, or did he pick an affordable location that now has become expensive?

It's not a must that woman work in this day and age.

You can be a Marine rifleman, NFL quarterback or EMT _and then be_ a successful startup founder. You can also be a parent _and then_ start a startup. There's no age limit and kids eventually grow up and move out.

Unless we're relegating/gatekeeping 50+ year olds from starting startups? Especially during retirement, there's still a lot of time to do stuff.

Time? Yes. Energy and mental agility? Probably not.

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.

I don't think you can join the armed forces after a certain age. (I don't think any field should have an age limit, especially if you can pass tests.)

My wife went out of town for 5 days and I _tried_ to take care of my 4 kids while working my FT job. I somehow managed to work 3/4 time just barely by working before they woke up and after they went to bed, and was mostly able to keep the kids fed, clean, and semi-entertained. It was not sustainable, not by a long shot, and I'm not a founder or co-founder.

Can you be an EMT and spend a lot of time with your kids though? Startup founder is a particularly hairy role to solve this for, since it is self-directed, but in general this is a real problem that exists across our whole society. Jobs should be flexible enough for people to spend a lot of time with their kids--even high availability/stress jobs--because it is a huge benefit to society when kids are able to spend a lot of time with their parents. Especially at the beginning.

What’s wrong with some roles just not being compatible with being a parent of small children? It’s not like anyone spends their entire life as a parent of young children. Just do that role before, after, or both. Take something less demanding for the years in between.

To the extent that’s impossible because you “fall off the track,” I agree that’s an problem.

Sure, some roles, like "startup founder" or "astronaut" may be fundamentally incompatible with small children. However, a lot of roles, like "cashier at Target", are pretty low hanging fruit (and it looks like they've been working on it[0]).

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 see these conversations go off the rails often because what should be seen as a call to common cause comes across as whataboutism, so let me try to be transparent about that:

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.

Kids' effect on work life is an important topic.

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.

Well, I have anicdata: every working parent I have ever known wants to spend more time with their kids. All the stay-at-home moms I know (except one) complain about their kids, their repetitive daily routine, and wish they had a job or career. The stay-at-home dads I know love it, but this can probably be explained as self-selection: it's because they're so family focused that they flipped society's expectations and stayed home while the wife works.

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.

Or its just politics, few people admit they are happy with anything since it gives them less leverage in negotiations.

The data could also be misleading. You could look at the numbers of women in the workplace in the 50s and conclude that women generally aren’t interested in the world of work. But this would completely overlook the barriers they faced - such as gendered stereotypes of the kind the author seems to subscribe to.

Except that society-wide these duties fall disproportionately to women.


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.

A kid is a startup. Running multiple startups is paralles is inefficient. What else is new?

>A kid is a startup. Running multiple startups is paralles is inefficient.

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.

Honestly if you've been running a startup for 6 years and it falls apart if you aren't directly involved, you haven't built a very stable company. Much like if your six year old can't cope alone in their room without you for a time, you've likely not raised a very stable child. If either requires constant attention, you haven't put the right systems and controls in place.

Are you also intending this as an argument for only children?

"talk honestly about how much harder startups are for those who want to spend a lot of time with their kids. Combining startups and kids is not only difficult, but the difficulty varies"

Quote applies equally to men and women.

Everything in this article can be said about certain dads as well. I know, I’m one of them. Before I had kids I started a company, raised VC, and sold it.

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+.

It's also difficult for fathers. I don't know if I buy the "mom's do all the work" line anymore. When I take my kid to soccer practice it's all dads.

I'd have to say it's partly a "grass is greener" kind of thing.

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.

The thing is, before you have kids, which no one AFAIK ever tells you, is you completely take for granted the mental "downtime" of not having to worry about another human being's safety and emotional health (e.g., your example to whit, you're just "sitting" at the game, but do you think your son would really like if you opened up your laptop and totally ignored him for 2 hours?). And the "emotional labor" isn't so much what you're _doing_ for your kid as much as being on constant mental alert yourself. Every minute that your kids are not asleep, you're keeping a spare eye and ear and the attendant mental energy on making sure they're reasonably safe and okay, and that's damn exhausting - even when they're sleeping, you can't go down as soundly, because they might wake up and need you. And those subconscious mental cycles you use to work on problems, the lack of time you just "sit down" when you wake up in the morning or finish breakfast or get home from work to decompress - not to mention the sleep deprivation - REALLY add up.

Indeed. I find myself in sort of holding patterns. My natural rhythm puts me going to bed later and my wife is usually in bed minutes after we've put the kid to bed, but he'll sometimes pop out and need something, so I've conditioned myself to just sort of have that in the back of my mind for about an hour or two after his official bedtime.

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.

Doesn't everyone say this about startups and kids for moms and dads?

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.

Honestly, the real question in all of this is, Why have kids if you're not going to spend time with them and raise them while they're growing up? We already have too many people on the planet, yet it seems there are people who would rather hire nannies, to watch the kids while they both parents are workaholics. I guess I don't see the point.

Couldn't agree more. It seems incredibly selfish to have children and then hand them over to strangers to raise. It's wildly unfair to the child, and as you said, unhealthy for the planet.

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.

This is my point of view as well. I don't understand why you would have a child and then proceed to not nurture and teach them because you're busy with something else.

Because it is a human drive, and for many in the US anyway, working a lot is the only way to get a decently comfortable life - if it gives you this at all. For a decent amount of folks, they just work jobs that keep them from children (nursing and retail work, for example). We could change this a lot of places with worker protection laws. I don't have children, and support more robust support for parents and things like maximum work hours and the like to make sure folks can raise their children, without the poverty that some folks would have when working less.

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.

The point is so people stop asking why you don’t have kids yet

Which is basically code for they'd consider you two levels higher status if you had.

We really need to get rid of this mindset, unless we are ok with the occasional population cull by war (we aren't, right?)

"... occasional population cull by war ..."

Or a pandemic.

That's the most ridiculous reason for having kids I have ever heard. If that's your issue, maybe just invent some fake children and say you sent them to boarding school or they died in a car crash. Or less dramatic, say they live with their other parent.

I don't see why one would actually have a kid just to avoid that question. I don't really see that question come up that much.

I’m sure some of these points also apply to startup Dads, not just Moms.

> I have to remind myself that it’s not that I’m an underachiever, but that I have different priorities

But you also might be, which is very important to add to all of these motivational quips

Can we also talk about men getting divorced after a startup failure or prolonged 'death valley' period? Startup is always risky for anyone regardless of gender and that is why not many people take the risk.

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.

I don't know that this post is the place to shift a discussion about a women's experiences to that of men.

The thing is that, as a male startup cofounder with two young kids (my cofounder is a woman with two kids), I’ve found that I’m usually the one fighting to make decisions that allow me to spend more time with my kids, whereas my partner just can’t get enough nights and weekends to keep working. I don’t know if I’m the exception or if more dads just don’t talk about it.

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.

>Can we also talk about men

Absolutely, submit an article and we'll discuss it there.

The author makes a lot of good points until the last paragraph:

>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.

Read it again, it's phrased as being necessary but not necessarily sufficient. You're arguing it's not sufficient -- and okay, it doesn't have to be.

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.

She's still accepting the premise that more female success, as a whole, is something she values. But validating that it is okay for women to choose to be less successful in order to focus on their family is clearly going to result in less female career success.

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.

Here’s the thing - you shouldn’t have to choose between a career and having children.

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 [0]. 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.

[0] https://europa.eu/youreurope/business/human-resources/workin...

> Here’s the thing - you shouldn’t have to choose between a career and having children.

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'm not entirely sure we disagree on the point I was attempting to make.

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.

No one is saying the choice is "career at all" v "spending time with children". It's "having a crazy busy career" v "spending time with children".

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.

Well, if you are the CEO of a high growth start up, you really can do what the wealthy have always done: go with the nanny.

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 upvoted this comment.

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 [0]. 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.

It's not just time off, it's just straight up working time. Somehow we went from half the eligible work force (women) dropping out before 30 to everyone being expected to work full time until 65, with no reduction in full time whatsoever.

Even now with many people working bullshit jobs going part time is career death.

Two essentially unrelated comments about what you said:

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.)

> Here’s the thing - you shouldn’t have to choose between a career and having children.

Having children is a career. Of course you have to choose which career to take.

'tradeoffs shouldn't exist'

Artificially created trade-offs are harmful.

This perceived conflict is my bet for the next big tech unicorn.

Every woman cofounder needs to be able to demand that their partner step-up. Period.

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.

"I would love to write a book or get involved in other projects, but these things all take time"

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.

Great article.

What is unacceptable to me is why this question is never asked of Fathers. I don’t think anyone would blink at hearing that a dad only sees his kids on weekends, but is it not just as harmful?

Ultimately though, I fail to understand why anyone without the proper time to devote to a child would chose to have one.

I noted the article unquestioningly accepted the stereotype that men have less interest in spending time with their children than women.

It strikes me that questioning this assumption would be a very good thing for improving the situation of women in the workplace.

>I noted the article unquestioningly accepted the stereotype that men have less interest in spending time with their children than women.

less interest or less opportunity?

From the article:

> 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.

This is a straight-up sexist assumption about the intrinsic interests of fathers in parenting.

A good example of how people who present themselves as progressive often reinforce tradition and convention at the same time

> improving the situation of women in the workplace

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.

I think you may have misinterpreted the article? It does not discuss how much a mother should see her kids. Only that the amount she wants to see her kids may differ.

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".

I experienced a super busy dad for some long stretches and it never felt harmful personally. Could have been mom alternatively. Probably could not have been both at the same time without feeling some consequence.

> I don’t think anyone would blink at hearing that a dad only sees his kids on weekends

Unless it’s a bad case of divorce, of course that would seem weird and detrimental. Who would consider that normal?

Your kids will voraciously consume every moment you can give them. Your ideals will dictate how many moments you make available to them.

You have a limited window to have children who likely will outlive you / be around your entire life. Work / time constraints while intense are temporary.

I’d wager that most people would agree that any dad that is seeing his children only on weekends is failing as a father. Obviously there’s some extreme exceptions but by and large I can’t imagine anyone advocating for him.

Lots of horrible fathers in the military, logging, and on oil platforms, I guess.

Unscientifically, absent mother is seen as worse than absent father.

I agree, and will may involuntarily postpone having kids because of that reason alone.

If you would be a good parent and want kids, then I believe the idea of delaying is harmful, especially if you are over say 25.

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.

> If you would be a good parent and want kids, then I believe the idea of delaying is harmful, especially if you are over say 25.


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.

The risk of genetic defects increase with age[1]. You are right though, you can definitely have healthy children in your 30's, though late 40s looks a little scary.

[1] https://embryology.med.unsw.edu.au/embryology/index.php/Gene...

The pattern I have seen is enjoying your 20s, then deciding to have a family, but not having a suitable partner, which leads to undesirable outcomes (desperate decisions, never finding a partner, disappointment of not engine up with kids, difficulty conceiving). This goes for men and women.

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.

Absence of either is more or less even-equal of a problem:

Jordan Peterson and Warren Farrell on The Boy Crisis and Gender Politics - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8AA1lR3CC4s


I've seen him talk about his tendency toward depression and I've seen him talk about his recent addiction, illness, and ongoing recuperation.

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.

Would love if you could actually link to evidence of him mocking and saying what you said, and not just linking to an unrelated The Sun article.

The content of this discussion does an excellent job of explaining the reasoning of the people that have downvoted this comment.

Don't know you're grayed out. Humans are genetically extremely similar, appearances not-withstanding. Nurture is what creates valuable and functional humans. Societal factors that reduce parents ability to nurture their children are bad regardless of the parents gender.

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