The following was syndicated from Dad and Buried for The Fatherly Forum, a community of parents and influencers with insights about work, family, and life. If you’d like to join the Forum, drop us a line at [email protected].
Parents are boring.
At least the ones who care about nothing except being a parent are. I care about my kids, but they’re not all I care about.
Nor should they be.
Many parents, upon becoming a mom or a dad, allow themselves to be consumed by their new role. At the expense of their personalities, their social lives, even their sanity.
It’s one of the reasons I started writing: I was sick of seeing friends disappear from my life, sick of watching their personalities get replaced with parenting manuals. It’s like watching someone get snatched by a cult. I hate cults. So when I became a dad, I was determined to resist being brainwashed and to maintain my identity.
Now that I have a second kid, I’m more determined than ever. My children are my top priority, but they are not my only priority. Thank god. Not only are we parents not as important as we think we are, and not only is our obsession with parenting perfectly unrealistic and unnecessary, it’s also bad for us.
Sure, sure, kids are fulfilling. Family is fulfilling. Raising your children is the most important thing you’ll ever do. Blah blah blah. True as that may be – and I’m willing to concede that yeah, it’s pretty true – that doesn’t mean a little diversification will hurt. You need to take breaks from parenting for the same reason you take vacations from any other job: to prevent burnout.
I was sick of seeing friends disappear from my life, sick of watching their personalities get replaced with parenting manuals.
I’m not only suspicious of anyone who is all about their kids 24/7/365, I’m flat-out bored by them. They are unlikely to be my friend because if they’re that consumed with parenting then they’re unlikely to have much to offer me. Yes, parenting provides a lot of common ground, it’s fodder for small talk and ice-breaking the same way that sports and music and the latest episode of “Game of Thrones” are. But if there’s only one thing you’re able to or interested in talking about, your relationships are going to dry up pretty quickly.
Parents who do nothing but parent their kids, and talk about nothing but parenting their kids, and care about nothing but parenting and their kids, are the reason people hate parents. They are the reason people think parents are boring. Anyone who is only one thing is boring. To other people, probably to themselves, eventually even to their kids. Don’t be only one thing. Be more than just a parent.
I don’t care it if it’s parenting, your career, the novel you’re writing, the marathon you’re training for, the video game you’re trying to solve, or whatever; devoting all of your energy to one thing, at the expense of any other aspects of your life, is not healthy. You’ll never have balance that way. Not with those guys. Not with Ali. Not with me.
So make choices for yourself every once in a while. You’re allowed! You’re entitled! You deserve it!
Prioritize your life. Get a babysitter and go out a few times a month, let the kids watch TV a little more often so you can read a book or chat with a friend, leave them in the car while you tip a few back at the bar, okay maybe not that last one. But all parenting all the time makes Jack a dull boy, and probably a resentful boy, and certainly a less fulfilled boy, and maybe an insane, stir-crazy boy who tries to murder his family.
Don’t let that happen to you. You were a person before you became a parent, you should do your best to remain one. For your sake and everyone else’s.
Dad and Buried (aka Mike Julianelle) is a 30-something Brooklynite who is sharing his experiences as a father and bitching about the ways the existence of his sons are destroying his social life.