Loss of freedom, sleep, privacy and a social life are several points parents cite for making their jobs so tough.


No parent will confess openly that they hate being a mum or dad. Indeed, this is akin to admitting that you have failed as a parent.

Imagine posting such thoughts on social media ― you merely have to wait for the backlash that will inevitably happen.

Anyone who’s ever birthed or raised a child will confirm that parenting is a tough job. To prepare yourself, you read book after book and suss out expert advice, even as you get on-the-job training.

Yet, nothing ever quite prepares you for the harsh realities of what day-to-day parenting is really all about. Truth is ― no matter how hard you try, sometimes, you just want to throw in the towel. Except, unlike a regular job, you can’t ever quit this one.

Writer Jennifer Senior explores this issue in a 2010 New York Magazine article. Citing research and expert studies done over the years, she comes to this conclusion in All Joy and No Fun ― Why parents hate parenting: If you think parenthood makes you happy, think again.

You read book after book and suss out expert advice, even as you get on-the-job training. Yet, nothing ever quite prepares you for the harsh realities of what day-to-day parenting is really all about.

One study Senior cites is by Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman, a behavioural economist who surveyed 909 women in Texas in 2004 and rated their daily activities based on the pleasure they derived from each. Childcare came in at number 16, out of 19 activities ― it only topped the morning and evening commutes and working. Even doing housework was placed higher!

Notes one frazzled mum of two Anne Tan, 40, “My sense of responsibility makes me carry on… They can't look after themselves, so we have to help them, even though the ROI [return on investment] isn't guaranteed!”

Some parents vent freely online because it’s anonymous. A Facebook page I Regret Having Children, was even set up in 2012 that enabled parents to air their parenting frustrations without guilt. Posting steady growth, it now has more than 10,000 followers.



So, why do parents hate parenting? Here are their reasons...

1) The daily grind

When they are babies, its milk, poop, diapers. Then the cycle begins again. Even when they are older, it’s a never-ending round of trips to school, tuition and enrichment classes and sports activities. Parents say they feel like robots that simply going through the motions, just to keep up with everyone else.

2) It’s a 24/7 job

It’s not like you can be a parent from 9am and knock off at 5pm. It’s a job that never ends. There are no vacation breaks, no sick days. Even when the hubby says, “go to sleep, I’ll handle this”, you can’t really let go. What if he messes things up?

3) Career setback

You’re at home wiping bottoms and making lunchboxes for kids who may not even appreciate your efforts, so, of course you feel envious that your child-free friends are hitting career peaks in power suits and stilettos.

“I spend more money on her [my daughter] than on myself ― school, enrichment, playtime, insurance, and so on.”

4) How much kids cost!

Kids are expensive. They are financially draining ― from milk powder and diapers when they are babies to tuition fees and the latest must-have gadgets when they are in school. These expenses all add up. Let’s not forget their university education costs.

Groans Cheryl Teo, 34, mum to Caela, 5. “I spend more money on her than on myself ― school, enrichment, playtime, insurance, and so on.”

Adds Sarah Nah, 29, mum to Nate, 4 months, “Now that I’m about to go back to work after my maternity leave, my hubby and I need to look at infantcare options ― none of them includes either me or him staying at home with our son because without a dual income, it’s going to be really difficult to keep up with the cost of raising a kid.”

5) Sleep deprivation

Says Mishka Gill, 40, a mother of three kids aged 3 months to 6, “I’m so exhausted by the end of the day (the only time I truly have to myself after the kids sleep) that I just crash within 5 mins of watching aTV show I’ve waited all day to watch.”

Adds a mum of 6-year-old twins, “I haven’t slept the whole night through in the past six years.” Enough said.



6) Loss of freedom

A spontaneous trip to the movies at midnight? A catch-up with your gal pals at the last minute? These are probably never going to happen unless you pen down the date three months in advance. Oh, your friends have kids, too? Make that six months.

Teo says, “While I am in the midst of ‘business’ or in the shower, there’ve been days when my little girl just swung open the bathroom door to ask me to switch the channels for her as she wanted to watch her favourite cartoon.”

7) Can’t connect with the older child

By the time your child hits his pre-teens, try to get him to listen to you. Parents report feeling helpless when their kids who talk back, refuse to do as they’re told or simply shut them out of their lives.

8) It’s socially isolating

New mums who are at home alone with their babies or toddlers all day will identify with this. There are only so many nursery rhymes you can recite or cartoons you can re-watch in a single day. Hoping for a stimulating conversation with your baby? It’ll be mostly one-sided, but at least he looks like he’s listening intently.

It’s safe to say that children pose one of the biggest threats to a couple’s marriage.

9) What date nights?

It’s safe to say that children pose one of the biggest threats to a couple’s marriage.

Teo confesses, “We try to steal two hours sometimes to have dinner together ― but it’s not frequent.”

Date nights take a back seat and the once sexy messages you and hubby exchange now reads like a grocery list of what to buy for dinner and who fetches which child from school.

10) The stress never ends

From the time your child is born, you are responsible for keeping him alive, feeding him, clothing him, educating him and everything else related to his safety and well-being. And as long as you are alive, your worry for him never ends, not when he’s aged 2, 20, 40 or even 60. It’s stressful just thinking about it!

Nah muses, “It used to be very easy to talk about our plans for the future as a couple. Now that we have a baby, everything has to revolve his needs first before we talk about our own.”

Senior says that “Loving one’s children and loving the act of parenting are not the same thing”. Noting that it’s natural for humans to want to procreate to ensure the survival of the species, Dr Lim Boon Leng, a psychiatrist at Dr BL Lim Centre for Psychological Wellness, points out that while most parents love their children, parenting often takes a toll as it is not intuitive.

Stay-at-home mum Gill reasons, “When I’m having a bad, frustrating and exhausting day, I remind myself that it’s actually a wonderful thing to be wanted and needed by your children. The years are limited for when your children want to be with you all the time. Soon, they will be teenagers, and will want to hang out with their friends, not so much their parents. So, I remind myself to enjoy the first 12 (?) years where mummy is always #1. If that fails, a really big glass of wine!”

Daniel Koh, a psychologist at Insights Mind Centre, notes that parents need to show unconditional love for their children and bond with them, which builds trust. He advises discontented parents to, “Talk to other trusted friends or family members ― don’t engage in keeping up with the Joneses.”

Pointing out that when parents sacrifice themselves for their children and neglect themselves, Dr Lim says that they become disgruntled because they feel unappreciated. His advice, “It is imperative for parents to first take good care of themselves ― not just give 100 per cent to their kids ― only then will they be able to help their kids. So, stay maintain good health and a positive outlook. “

Low Le-Ann, a mother of two boys, is doing just that. Noting that as a mother, she is either getting angry, feeling stressed out, or complaining, she looks for the funny side. “I make humour a constant companion. Laughter is contagious ― our kids are excellent teachers of this, so share a laugh with those around you. Watch a funny movie or go to a comedy club. Humour is an effective stress buster.”

Photos: iStock

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