Parents on Reddit Share 'Unintended Positive Consequences' of Having Children
"Kids change everything." It's cliché, but there's at least some truth to it. When you have a child, your priorities often change—because they have to. You have a human to care for and guide through life.
Sometimes, when a couple is expecting their first child, they start hearing about all of the negative consequences of having a child, though. "You'll never sleep again" or "Say goodbye to your social life." One Redditor wanted to hear about the good parts of parenting that people didn't expect to experience when they brought their little bundle of joy home.
"Having kids can really change a person. Sometimes it's for the worst, other times it's for the best," u/Wolfie1531 posted in the Parenting subreddit. "What unintended positive change did having kids have for you?"
The Redditor shared their personal unintended positive consequence to start things off.
"For me, it was near sobriety," the person wrote. "I spent 15 years as a self-medicating (depression) functioning alcoholic. It dawned on me today that since my son was born two years ago, I've had less than a drink a month on average and have not been drunk since. [The] best part is, I don't miss it."
This change is truly wonderful to hear. There's a ton of discussion about "wine moms" on social media, and some experts are calling for a meaningful conversation about how societal pressures and stress are playing roles. But it's great this parent has noticed the opposite. It's also important to note that journeys through sobriety and recovery are different for everyone and having a child is not a cure for addiction.
And more than 800 Redditors had similarly sweet responses to the upside of parenting.
"Surprisingly, finding patience. I was never a very patient person but having kids made me find a level of patience I never thought I could reach," wrote one person.
"Laughter. Before my kid, I don't remember when was [the] last [time] when I laughed so hard that tears came from my eyes. Now it is pretty common," said another.
"Recovery from my eating disorder. Pregnancy made me face it, and then starting solids with my son and wanting him to find joy in food also made me realize that everyone deserves to find joy in food," one parent commented, adding, "On a more lighthearted note, when I'm late to everything now people just expect it and don't get mad."
Speaking of socializing, one Redditor brought up a funny but true point.
"A solid excuse for not going to social gatherings," the person responded.
And some realized that maybe they didn't know it all.
"I became much less judgmental of other parents," one said.
"Yes. You've put a toddler on a leash? Good on you to not let them kill themselves. Your kid is having a meltdown? That sucks. It happens to the best of us," concurred another.
Louder, for the people in the back.
Though plenty of studies suggest a link between decreased happiness and children, research published in 2019 offers some hope. Though non-parents are typically happier than parents with kids at home, empty nesters displayed fewer signs of depression and had a higher quality of life than their non-parent peers, the study found.
Having children is a personal decision, of course, and there will be good days and bad ones. But as some Redditors and even research point out—it can be worth it in the end if it's something you want.