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Love them or loathe them, children are an essential part of life, no matter what species of animal or vegetable you are. This Entry examines the effects of procreation on the adult humans involved and focuses on the arguments for and against producing a little person.
The Researcher has been a parent since 1998. Previous experience includes 13 years of being an auntie. For those of you who have not been blessed by the pitter-patter of little feet, I hope not to scare you too much. And for those who have, feel free to share your anecdotes.
For the first few years they give you lots of cuddles. These are spontaneous and should not be shunned by the parent. In fact, they may leave the parent feeling all proud with a warm glow. However, do not expect this to last. Cuddles take a temporary back seat when the child starts school, only to surface again when a teenager. Teenagers' cuddles are mostly used to lull the parent into a false sense of security before the child asks for something, usually money or car keys.
No matter what they say or do, you'll always love them. That implies that you'll always have someone to love you, even if eventually they won't admit to knowing you in public. They may be climbing up the curtains, playing with the contents of their nappies, or pulling the tail of next door's dog; but one smile and it will be impossible to get angry. As a parent, it is very difficult to discipline a young child, as you usually want to laugh.
Having a young child means that you can do all those fun things you know you really want to do, like skip down the street or eat lots of ice cream.
You save lots of money by having no 'cheap nights out'. All the money saved can then be spent on really useful things like air freshener, baby wipes, various sorts of locks, soft padding for walls, and easy to wash wallpaper.
Being with them through all their achievements, from learning to smile to graduating, gives you a nice warm feeling.
It doesn't take long to forget how painful the birth was, so you can get on with running around after them.
For most of the first two years, there's an awful smell that pervades your house and nothing you can do will shift it. You'll also become an expert in reading the contents of nappies. You will be able to tell from the colour, smell, and consistency if all is well with your childs innards... and what they had for tea last night.
And it doesn't stop with potty training. As the child grows, the smell changes gradually from vomit and poo to the 'I eat too many sweet things' stage. Then there's the, 'can't wash/ won't wash' stage of early puberty through to the 'wow, it's the opposite sex' stage, when your house smells of the latest craze in perfume. Then they move out and you don't have to put up with it anymore.
On average you can spend, in Britain, around £60,000 raising a child... and that's without child care or private education.
They have an amazing ability to make you feel guilty.
They expect you always to be there for them, especially when ill or the pocket money/ allowance/ student loan/ pay cheque has run out.
Giving birth is more painful than you can imagine it to be. Don't be a martyr, take the drugs.
They can make even the most sporty fit parent feel completely drained of energy.
Then as the child gets older there's a lot of nagging questions: What about drugs? Do they know about contraception? What are their friends like? Why don't they bring their girlfriend/ boyfriend home to meet me? Are they embarrassed by me?
The responsibility can be overwhelming. To start with: is it feeding OK? What is that stuff in the nappy? Is it still breathing? Every other baby can crawl, why can't mine?
Many new parents go through a period, where it all gets too much for them and they think they can't cope. These feelings usually pass as you get more confident with looking after your screaming bundle. You wonder if it will ever become the laughing bundle of joy you expected it to be. The answer to this question is yes... but it will take time.
For around 20% of women (and approximately 7% of men), these low feelings do not seem to go away. For anyone worried about postnatal depression, there are many people who are able to offer advice and support.
Unfortunately, some people find they are unable to have children of their own. For these, adoption may be considered.