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David Hamilton

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On Parenthood, and "Opting Out"

A strange topic to place side by side, no? Well, maybe not... In numerous psychological studies, it has been shown that marriage, and parenthood, both dramatically reduce the chances that a human being will take their own life. Wait, is this about suicide? No, not entirely.

This is about a phrase, uttered worldwide by parents, which they refuse to elaborate on "When you have a child, you'll understand"... "There is no way I can explain it to you, it just makes you a different human being, when you have a baby"... Recently Joe Rogan even reminded me "America will never vote for someone who doesn't have children. People who have children, would never put someone who didn't have children, in charge of their military... It's a weird thing... We don't trust you".

What do you really mean? Well I have an answer. Once you have a child, you have made the conscious choice, to create life in your current environment. Thus, you are no longer allowed, to "opt out". This applies not just to suicide however, it applies to revolution, and homesteading.

In the mind of every young person, but man especially, there is a desire to feel free from the constraints of society. A desire to run with the wolves and park yourself under a tree near a river. Or, a desire to fundamentally change, and re organize the society you live in. Finally, in your darkest moments, as Ralph Steadman said of Hunter Thompson "he would feel real trapped if he didn't know that he could commit suicide at any moment. I don't know if that is brave or stupid or what, but it was inevitable."

Once you have a child, you are no longer allowed to think like this, and you must re organize your life accordingly. You cannot leave the society that you brought someone else into. You brought a person into this society, and now it's hungry... Stop wasting your time thinking nonsense.

I would like to suggest, that this is the reorganization, chemical and cognitive, which occurs during parenthood.

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  • Sep 5 2012: "I would like to suggest, that this is the reorganization, chemical and cognitive, which occurs during parenthood."

    IMO, you have found just one part of the reorganization. Fritzie stated another part, parental love. Another part is the reorganization of your desires and priorities, how you want to spend your time. There is the whole nesting phenomena, suddenly the idea of owning your own home seems like a good idea, and for reasons you cannot fully verbalize, it is important. Security becomes a necessity. You no longer take the risks that were an everyday part of your life. One parent is always sober.

    It can even affect your memories. I met a young couple once who said that they literally could not remember how they used to spend their time before their baby was born. Literally.

    "There is no way I can explain it to you, it just makes you a different human being, when you have a baby".

    This quote is literally true. Most parents cannot explain it. I have been a parent for 37 years, and have given this question some thought throughout those years, and I am sure I will miss aspects of this reorganization.

    Most parents will entertain thoughts of opting out, but for the vast majority this is just a stress reliever. Some parents opt out temporarily, but this is just taking a break. Actually opting out, permanently, is not a real option.
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      Sep 6 2012: "Actually opting out, permanently, is not a real option."... anymore. I just meant to point out, that that is one, of as you suggested, many, fundamental, entire restructurings of the way your brain function, which make objective, logical sense, and can be explained relatively simply. One of the problems is that, as you suggest "I met a young couple once who said that they literally could not remember how they used to spend their time before their baby was born"

      I just wanted to be honest about this aspect publicly, and see the response of other parents, because I think this is an aspect which is difficult, but important to explain, especially to a young depressed teenager for example. Honesty in this realm however is a bit difficult, especially once you've crossed the threshold and no longer think the same way.
    • Sep 6 2012: On your sobriety comment I have to say that it is very challenging to take care of a baby when you are hungover.

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