"Having kids is not only financially foolish but ... kids literally make parents delusional"

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Jim's picture
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Susan R's picture
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Yikes

I don't think this study was constructed in a way that the results should be taken seriously.

Reducing children to an financial equation and their worth as measured by a parent's emotional satisfaction reveals how without natural affection humans have become.

It's a very slippery slope to start quantifying human life by how much one produces economically and socially and whether there is a return one's investment in others.

Dan Miller's picture
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Susan R wrote: I don't think

Susan R wrote:
I don't think this study was constructed in a way that the results should be taken seriously.
Why do you say that?
Susan R wrote:
Reducing children to an financial equation and their worth as measured by a parent's emotional satisfaction reveals how without natural affection humans have become.
How do you explain the difference in answers between the groups?

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Difference between the groups

Perhaps it can be "explained" through using Utilitarian or Pragmatic categories. It certainly sounded a lot like the proponents of such systems.

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Rival Causes

Dan Miller wrote:
How do you explain the difference in answers between the groups?

When I read or listen to something, I am involved in a mental dialogue with the author of that information, and respond either with agreement or disagreement as my mind confronts each new fact. This is what the discipline of critical thinking teaches us to do. When I am faced with information that I disagree with (either because of explicit statements or implications), I mentally prepare counter-arguments and objections to what I perceive as the weakness of that information. For example, "Jesus of Nazareth was not a historical individual." You probably can't read that (as a Christian) without arguing with it in your mind, even beyond simple contradiction.

Now, if I were asked to immediately give my opinion of Jesus' historicity, I would be doing so in what I perceive mentally as a hostile environment, and would feel compelled to champion the truth of the opposite position. My response is likely to be stronger and more dogmatic than it would be if I thought the information being presented was balanced.

So with this article. I feel convinced on independent, non-economic grounds of the value of parenthood. If I am presented with information that presents a negative view of parenthood (viz, kids are very expensive; end of story), I am likely to think supportively about parenthood than if I felt like the information was more balanced (viz, kids are expensive but it works out in the end).

I'm not a psychologist or a scientist, so I can't comment professionally on their methodology. I am surprised, though, that the researchers apparently didn't consider the explanation I just put forward. Maybe they did, and it just wasn't in the Time article. In that case, I'm surprised that the author didn't. After all, she ought to know that she's more supportive of Obama when she's surrounded by rabid Tea Party members. Smile

Susan R's picture
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What he said

When information is presented in a balanced manner, we aren't as quick to engage in refutation, because we feel that the subject is being treated fairly. But in a situation where the information is heavily weighted to one side, we are naturally more defensive. This doesn't mean we are experiencing cognitive dissonance or being delusional. It's just how we're wired.

It also might help to do some reading on supraliminal priming techniques. Fun stuff.

I completely disagree with the initial premise- that parents are by default angrier and more stressed solely because they have kids. The reason, IMO, that parents may tend to be angrier and more stressed is that they are no longer being equipped to handle parenting. They weren't parented themselves, they don't know how to set limits, they don't spend much time with their kids- and society not only doesn't condemn this dynamic, it embraces it. We are expected to breed and then hand our kids over to 'the professionals' for teaching and training. Any parent who experiences this is going to feel like kids are little more than a mouth to feed and a body to clothe, because that is the extent of their parenting responsibilities as they see it. What is worse is that this is SOP in churches as well.

We know that Scripture teaches us that children are a blessing, that they can bring peace and joy to a home. That has been my experience- I'd rather be with my hubby and kids more than any other people on earth. We have fun, we talk all day long about any subject that comes to mind, we work together in pleasant accord. I've not hired a babysitter for my kids one time in 25 years except in emergency situations, because we have no reason to leave them out of any errands or activities. They are obedient and helpful and friendly. I don't understand parents who say they can't take their kids anywhere because they are a pain. How can your child be an inconvenience? Why would anyone experience relief when they leave for school or the babysitter arrives?

In the researcher's minds, I'd be one of the delusional ones who won't face their 'facts' that my life is really hell-on-earth, but I'm too much in denial to realize it. http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys.php ][img ]http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys/smiley-confused009.gif[/img ]

Dan Miller's picture
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Huh.

I don't see your explanations as different from the authors.

Dave Talbert wrote:
If I am presented with information that presents a negative view of parenthood (viz, kids are very expensive; end of story), I am likely to think supportively about parenthood than if I felt like the information was more balanced (viz, kids are expensive but it works out in the end).
Susan R wrote:
...in a situation where the information is heavily weighted to one side, we are naturally more defensive.
You both say that when presented with biased (group 1 clearly got biased info) information, you would feel more defensive of parenthood than you otherwise would. This would mean that you would answer the questions more to reflect the positive aspects of parenthood than you otherwise would.

Consider this question: If you could see your own answers to the questions in 1) an unbiased state and 2) after reading biased info, which is the true set of answers to the questions?

-=-=-=-=-=-

It seems that, at least for Susan, because Scripture calls children a blessing, they should not be thought of as a source of stress.

Susan R's picture
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Stress

Lots of things are 'a source of stress'. I am sure that many athletes are 'stressed' about the sport they train for. Teaching can be stressful. Pastoring can be stressful. But if you find those things a joy, you are experiencing cognitive dissonance? The authors of this study think that when you are defensive about something you say you love, the underlying reason is that you are delusional. You are 'romanticizing' it.

I am certainly NOT saying that because the Bible calls children a blessing that they are never a source of stress- did you not notice the use of terms such as 'pain', 'inconvenience' and feeling 'relief' when unburdened by the presence of one's children? Try not to mischaracterize what I've said. I hate arguing points I haven't made more than anchovies on pizza.

Quote:
For the same reason you keep spending money to fix up an old car when it just doesn't work — or keep investing in the same company when it's failing. Humans throw good money after bad all the time. When we have invested a lot in a choice that turns out to be bad, we're really inept at admitting that it didn't make rational sense.

Really? This is a Godly view of parenting? We should view children as a monetary investment for which we should expect a return... and if we were to face 'facts', the return totally sucks?

This study is nothing more than a reflection of a fallen world that becomes more and more self-absorbed with every generation. A Christian parent is not doomed to replicate society's pathetic issues in their homes.

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different degrees

Susan R wrote:
Lots of things are 'a source of stress'. I am sure that many athletes are 'stressed' about the sport they train for. Teaching can be stressful. Pastoring can be stressful. But if you find those things a joy, you are experiencing cognitive dissonance? The authors of this study think that when you are defensive about something you say you love, the underlying reason is that you are delusional. You are 'romanticizing' it.

If you do it to a small degree (like we would when we answer questions after bias data), you're being a little defensive.
If you do it to a huge degree (like perhaps some in the authors experience), you're being delusional or romanticizing.
Either way, you're allowing yourself to be biased in your assessment of parenthood.

All that Cog.Dis. says is that when you have something that he good aspects and bad aspects, once you choose it, you tend to ignore/minimize/explain-away the bad aspects. You're prone to defensive thinking (as you guys put it) or delusion (as the authors put it).

Susan R wrote:
I am certainly NOT saying that because the Bible calls children a blessing that they are never a source of stress- did you not notice the use of terms such as 'pain', 'inconvenience' and feeling 'relief' when unburdened by the presence of one's children? Try not to mischaracterize what I've said.
Sorry if I mischaracterized your words. It seemed like you used all those words as things that you don't experience.

Regardless, Susan, and I think you're objective enough to realize this, you cannot know what your life would be like with just you and your husband. In other words, are you less calm that you would be if you didn't have kids? You can't know. Maybe you're a really happy person and you would have accepted childlessness and been very happy - even happier - you can't know.

There's tons of bias when you start comparing groups.
If the childless chose to be childless, why did they?
If the childless didn't choose to be, what other health stresses do they have?
If the parents didn't choose[sic ] to be parents, what were their other goals?

-=-=-=-=-=-=-

It would be interesting to see if Susan's calm and joyful experience is because of her Christian parenting style. I would expect so. If so, then in general, parents with her type of style should be more calm and less angry than other parents, and even than childless. That might be an interesting study.

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@ Bro Miller

Imagine if they did a study on how people feel about death. I think we can't ignore the fact that when studies like these are done, all they prove is that unregenerate man is ill-equipped to deal with life's challenges- marriage, death, parenting, illness... isn't/shouldn't a Christian by default going to be more positive about what the world would consider extremely stressful or even tragic experiences?

I don't think that when someone minimizes some unpleasant aspect of their lives they are necessarily romanticizing, and the use of the word 'delusional' in the article goes a long way toward sparking a strong emotional reaction to the study, which was probably the intent of the article anyway- to get everyone's knickers in a bunch, especially with the closing sentence- Parents are heroes and suckers?

It's anecdotal, but I know too many moms and dads with special needs kids who have burdens I can't possibly understand, but they are joyful and positive, even when times are tough. I think it is OK to choose to be positive, and that choice doesn't mean that the downside is being ignored. It could mean that one is choosing purposefully not to let the negatives define their experience. Why should this be described as delusional?

As for how people view children- I agree that we can't know what it's like for another group of people whose experiences are different from our own. For example, a friend of mine who was childless for years had a habit of criticizing parents- "If I had kids they'd never be allowed to _______". I teased her that she was going to have to eat her words one day. Well, she and her husband adopted a few years ago, and did she ever eat crow. Anyone can stand back and tell other people what they should/should not be experiencing, but there is merit to the idea that you can't speak to some things without having experienced it yourself.

I agree that it would also be interesting to see how childless-by-choice couples feel vs. those who are childless but desire children vs. those who were childless-by-choice but had an oopsie baby.

After having said all that, though- Scripture is clear about how we are supposed to view children. They are to be cherished and nurtured and considered a blessing. The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, etc. We do not have to be controlled by a spirit of fear- God has given us the power to experience His love, to have a sound mind. All of that to my mind says that if a Christian is having seriously negative feelings about parenting their children, there is something spiritually wrong.