They are extremely sweet, of course, and, on a good day, very rewarding. But let’s be clear about some other things that our child-centered societies never dare to mention, but should, because the silence stops us from understanding what the business of having children is really all about. There’s not very much honest intergenerational transfer of information here… for the same reason there isn’t around the great, dark truths of love. We’re simply too ashamed of our own difficulties. We shouldn’t be. The job of culture is to reveal what friends never tell you, that everyone, privately, ends up thinking. So here… a sum of the big secrets. Having children destroys your relationship as a romantic, sexual concern. People say you get closer over the kids, but this isn’t the emotional, let alone, sexual intimacy we’d want. It’s more like the team spirit you’d get between colleagues in a busy kindergarten. It’s almost a biological law: kids will kill the relationship that produced them. We’ve bought into the idea that all the problems people might have from their childhoods come down to the fact that their parents were mean or neglectful. Be nice to your kids – psychologists tell us – and all will be well. But that’s turned out to be pretty misleading. As a parent, you will allways have to put an end to a lot of the fun. It starts with computers and gets worse from there, for the sake of protecting your kids, and you will be hated profoundly as a result. Indeed, the more you love them, the more you can act in their long-term interests and the more hated you’ll be at points. Unlike all those fun loving parents, whose lack of care buys them short-term votes. The more you love your child and make them feel safe, the more they’ll use you as a punchbag when things go wrong in their lives. All those assurances – I’ll always be on your side – will pay off beautifully. They will encourage your child to direct their every frustration and disappointment onto the loving adult who signaled that they can, and will, take it. The dream is that you’ll be able to pass some insights to your children, – let’s say around money, or career, or love – insights that you accumulated through painful experience, and thereby you’ll save them time. But sadly the human race is very commited to reexploring every dumb error in every new generation. You can’t spare people time. Modern parents want to make things so nice for their kids. But we know from our own experience that we have a key moments grown-up only through things that have a painful side to them. We desperately want our children to grow mature, but without going through awful things. They can’t. Kids will need to separate themselves from you; it’s a biological imperative. You can’t live at home forever. But unfortunately, that urge for separation has a habit of expressing itself very meanly in the period we call ‘adolescence’. It means finding parents repeatedly ridicolous and silly and trashing your life’s goals and values. Despite all the hard work your kids will end up mediocre. You might have thought that all the early lessons and care and love… will turn them into a version of Mozart or Tolstoj. It won’t. They’ll be very average people who’ll have demanded way, way, above average levels of commitment from you to get them to adulthood. Many people who learn they can’t have children are deeply unhappy. Dont’ worry. Have children and you will, at times, definitely regret it. Don’t have children and you will, at times, also definitely regret it Both sides are just interestingly, and differently, miserable. But neither side has very much to envy from the other.