Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Having a Family Doesn't Guarantee Happiness

Matt Walsh, who I agree with some on some really big things, is back to beating the drum to marry and pop out kids. He starts off his column at The Daily Wire citing comments by former First Lady Michelle Obama.
The former First Lady was interviewed by "Blackish" star Tracee Ellis Ross and the women together lamented the fact that girls "still dream of weddings" and "Prince Charming." The two agreed that some women (Tracee Ellis Ross included) can sacrifice family for the sake of a career and be "happy as a clam." In fact, it would seem that Mrs. Obama — who is married with two kids — thinks this path is preferable, given that she considers it a problem when girls aspire to marriage. Ross provided compelling evidence to prove that her decision to forgo family life was the right call: "Look where I'm sitting," she declared. Yes, the summit of all happiness is to sit on a stage with a former First Lady. Truly, this is the eternal bliss for which we were designed.
Maybe Ross is happy? I'm not aware of Walsh having psychic abilities.

People who give up family for career are often quite anxious to announce their happiness to the world. This is the first sign that they are not happy.
Uhm, so what does Walsh do with all of the people who claim to be happy because they married and because they had kids? They seem awfully anxious to announce to anyone who listen how happy they are.
The second sign is that as the fertility rate in America has fallen below replacement level, and Americans increasingly look outside the home for fulfillment, we have also become a staggeringly depressed, stressed out, anxious nation of addicts and narcissists and compulsive TV-watchers.
Ah, yes, it can't be anything other than that someone having no children or fewer children than past averages that's causing depression, stress, anxiety, addiction, narcissism, and compulsion to watch TV. It can't be, for example, that those are largely two different groups of people, or that people are already those things and so they end up having no or fewer children, or that something else not mentioned is causing both. Let's ignore the fact that there are many people who children, even lots of them, who are depressed, stressed, anxious, addicted, etc. Notice, though, that after attempting to create link in the reader's mind, he tries to preserve the logic of his column...

That isn't to say that all of the depressed, anxious, empty people are childless, but simply that we may have some very flawed ideas about where to find happiness.
Huh? That doesn't make sense.

If the childfree depressed, etc., people had a lot of kids, that wouldn't make them all (or perhaps even most or a sizable minority of them) happy. For thousands of years, people were happy to have children because that meant they were going to have helpers on the farm or in the family business, and someone who could protect them when they got old and feeble. Very few of us live on farms now, child labor is not encourage by our laws, and we can save, invest, and insure so that professionals care for us when we're old.

There are people out there who are happy, in large part, because they don't have children, (and, for some, don't have a spouse.).
We fled the home, started to look down our noses at the domestic life (women and men both), decided to reject marriage and procreation, or at least put it off, and in the process we have not found any of the positive results that we were promised.
Who is this "we"? Some people have!
I keep hearing that this modern approach to life is exciting and joyful, but I do not see much excitement or joy when I look around our culture.
Walsh isn't going where the childfree people are going. They're going on cruises and other vacations, to restaurants and clubs and parties he'll never go to. They're enjoying quiet, clean, orderly homes without destroyed furniture and without having to deal with constant arguing and defiance.
I see a lot of hollow people who don't even understand happiness enough to realize that they are unhappy.
Heh... You people think you're happy, but Walsh knows better!
Indeed, you will see study after study claiming that people without kids are actually "way happier" than people with kids. But these “studies" assume honest self-assessment, and honest self-assessment is perhaps the rarest thing in American culture.
I wonder if Walsh realizes that studies claiming married men are happier and get more and better sex also depend on honest self-assessment? Maybe he's fine with throwing out all self-reporting because he surely knows  what is REALLY going on for each and every person.

That being said, I would be interested to see a follow-up study with one of these "happy" people a couple of decades from now. Will she still be so satisfied with choosing career over family when she is older and all of the money and success only amounted to a large and empty house filled with nice things that nobody is around to enjoy?
Does Walsh really not know what friends are? (He probably has little time for friends, if he's being a good husband and father.) Plenty of people who married and had lots of kids end up with "empty" houses. Money and success allows people more choices in life. It isn't a bad thing.
Will she be "happy" when her friends are planning weddings for their children, and going to their grandchildren's baptisms, and she has no significant milestones to look forward to at all?
How about when she can afford the best medical care, good legal representation, a home in a nice neighborhood, and nice vacations?
Will she be "happy" when she is elderly and nobody is there to care for her?
Most elderly people sitting unvisited in nursing homes had children. Also, people who didn't spend tends of thousands of dollars per child's wedding can afford to hire the best care. They may also have younger partners of friends to help them.
Will she be "happy" on her death bed, leaving no legacy behind except for the ultimately pointless work she did at some company that has long since forgotten about her?
People who don't spend hundreds of thousands of dollars per child and instead invest their money wisely can leave a great legacy through things like charities and scholarships. And professionally, some people can accomplish great things that endure for generations.
Has any dying person, ever in the history of mankind, been grateful that they focused less on family and more on material success?
Yes. And I'm sure plenty of dying people have spent their last days with bickering, scheming family members around them. I doubt the Menendez parents were ever so happy they had kids when they were being murdered by them.
There are many people who have families and yet refuse to look within the family for purpose and contentment. There are many children being raised by babysitters and television sets because both parents are out chasing their ambitions and treating their kids as afterthoughts.
And yet I say some people shouldn't have kids, and people like Walsh say more people should.
They too will die basically alone, and the kind words said about them at their eulogies will be half-hearted and perfunctory. "Dad was a hard worker," someone will say.
This is the trap for men. You know how women often feel trapped by the "slut/prude" dichotomy? Well men are trapped by the "good provider/involved husband and dad" dichotomy. It allows wives and marriage counselors and talk show hosts who used to practice as family therapists to bash a man either way. Either he's not providing enough, or he's not involved in his family enough. How convenient. "Your wife cheated because you were too busy with work" they say. Well how else does a man support not only himself, but a wife and children in this day and age? Damned if you don, damned if you don't. So men are opting not to play the game in the first place. More and learning to say "No!" No, they won't live with a woman. No, they won't get married. No, they won't have children

I'm not suggesting that everyone in the world must get married and have kids. But I am suggesting that a life lived in service to yourself is a life without meaning.
What does "service to yourself" even mean? If people take care of themselves so that others don't have to, that's a good thing.
A life whose crowning achievement is a corner office at a Fortune 500 company is a wasted life.
I wouldn't expect Walsh to grasp the Protestant work ethic.
Someone else will take that office when you are gone. You will not be missed.
Walsh has never missed a co-worker?
The work you did will not be remembered.
Most of our great-grandchildren won't remember us. So? And there are people who've done great work that has helped and been remembered long after they've passed.

Then there are people who want a large family and to put family head of career, but they haven't reached a place in their life where it would be responsible for them to do that or found someone to be their spouse who is the right match to do that with. Maybe they're unhappy about it, but no scolding is going to change that. I agree that people who want to raise children should put those children first, and to do so in a responsible way, which means starting before the children are even conceived. That can take time, if it is going to happen at all. Getting married young and cranking out baby after baby without good planning under the self-soothing manta of "things will work out" or "God will provide" is foolishness.

I think anyone who has children should ensure that there will be a parent raising them. That means that aside from the occasional babysitter (especially a relative), a child is with a parent (not daycare, or the other names for daycare such as preschool, nursery school, pre-K, etc.) from birth to age 5, and then before and after school each day.  Having children, though, is something most men and plenty of women shouldn't do.

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