#2. Kids Can and Will Dictate Your Relationships
My oldest son had a friend we'll call "Unfixable Thieving Little Fuckhead." "Thief" for short. My ex-wife was friends with his parents. Every weekend, Thief would come over to play -- and though he was usually a little hyperactive, he was at least manageable. At school, though, he was known for constantly getting into trouble, whereas my kid was kind of the foil to that: good grades, never needed discipline, extremely polite. Then one day, my son came home with a cellphone. Which was odd, because we hadn't bought him a cellphone.
Obviously, he stole it. And like any reasonable parents, we didn't blame Thief for it. Our son made that decision, and he had to deal with the consequences. But little by little, Thief's influence started to show up, until my ex caught him showing our kids how to surf porn on the Internet. And that was it. She drove him back home and had to tell his parents that he was no longer allowed to come over. Since the removal of Thief, we've not had a problem with any of our kids in that capacity.
Though we keep losing our TVs. We haven't figured out why.
But the second she talked to his mom and dad, her relationship with them was over. They don't want to hear another parent tell them that their kid is a massive problem, because it reflects badly on them. And you can't really hang out after that, because it means your kids will end up hanging out as well, which defeats the whole "Stay the fuck away from my children" rule.
I've lost friends, too, but for different reasons. There are people out there who just don't like hanging out with children in the room. They want to talk about adult subjects. They want to make adult jokes. They want to show you the new tattoo they got on their dick, and they just don't feel comfortable whipping it out after that whole "Class X" fiasco. So they don't come over as much, which leads to further whittling as time goes on ... until they eventually just stop showing up at all. Such is human nature. I don't blame any of them for it.
But it happens, and if you're not prepared for it, it will sucker punch you right in the ear. It's why when someone gets married or has kids, they suddenly become friends with other married couples or parents. Their new status separates them from their friends, and they gravitate toward people with similar interests and lifestyles.
"Here's to freaky four-way sex!"
If you're one of millions of people out there who are unfortunate enough to be single parents, kids will absolutely influence your romantic decisions as well. If the person you're dating doesn't get along with your kids, it's going to be up to you to either find a way to make peace or sever the relationship completely, no matter how nice their ass is. It's a hard motherfucker to deal with, but that's the cold reality. I'm currently engaged, but if my kids and my fiancee didn't get along, it would have never made it to that stage. The kids come first, always, and I wouldn't be able to make that commitment until the relationship between them was stable.
And I know that some of you out there are puffing up your chest and saying, all badass, "I date who I want to date. If my kids have a problem with that, tough shit. These are my rules, and they bend to my will. They don't run the house. I do." And you're right. It is your life and your rules. But what I'm saying is that if you don't do something to fix it, and you continue on with the relationship anyway, you're still allowing the kids to dictate the relationship by adding stress to it. It's not just a case of them picking and choosing who you're going to be with. They will, even unintentionally, steer your love life simply by existing.
"It's really far down, huh? Imagine what it would be like if you just accidentally fell out of there."
#1. All Your Plans and Strategies Get Amended or Flat-Out Vetoed
I can't tell you how many times I've seen this happen. You have your first child and plan on taking a few months off before heading back to work. You just need enough time for bonding, as well as finding a good, trustworthy baby sitter. So after a few months, you nail one down and head on back to your job. A month later, you start getting weekly calls from the sitter. She's constantly getting sick, and you know from experience that she's using her fake "sick voice" -- in reality, she's tired of not being able to hang out with her friends, instead having to listen to your asshole kid scream for hours at a time while she wipes shit off of his back. But every time she calls in, you have to do the same at your own job. Your work history is now hinged on the work ethics of a teenage girl. So you look for another month until you find another sitter. One who's old enough to have a menstrual cycle. A month after that, same problem. What the fuck?
"I think I'm just gonna go ahead and take off. Your mom should be home in a few hours."
That's when you realize that baby sitters make jack shit, so it's easy for them to say "Fuck this" and just take the day off. So you up the ante and look for a good child care service -- and then promptly shit your pants when you see how much they're charging, on top of the lengthy background checks and paperwork involved.
In my area of the country, many people have to go on government assistance when they drop down to a single-income household. The dad works full time. The mom is at home, waiting to give birth -- and then still at home after the delivery, recovering with her newborn. And that single income, in many cases, isn't enough to support a full family. So when the mother finally does get back to work, and you take into consideration everything I've just told you, you get this situation:
"Read it word for word. What's the exact law on me shooting her in the face?"
The second she starts working again, the government assistance gets pulled. It seems fine at first, because she's making up for it with an actual income. But then she has to take out money to pay for the sitter. Then she's adding in gas that she wasn't using before at these ridiculous, almost criminal fucking prices. When the sitters disappear and she has to start using a child care service, suddenly she's bringing home so little money, it's actually cheaper to just stay on fucking welfare. This isn't an isolated case. This is a totally common problem, and it's worldwide. If you don't have a six-figure a year income, there's a chance you're going to be dealing with it.
In my case, my ex-wife had to resort to working weekends so that one of us would always be there with the kids. What that meant was that on her days off, I'd be working, and vice versa. We rarely saw each other, because as one of us was walking in the door, the other would be walking out. And that was us being lucky that our respective workplaces were flexible enough to allow modified schedules to accommodate it. Many people don't have that option, so they end up taking the financial equivalent of Ron Jeremy's big, hairy balls softly flopping against their cheeks while they sit with a calculator and try to figure out which bills aren't going to get paid this month.
Dude, you can hide the marks, but you'll never be able to get rid of the smell.
Don't let any of this scare you off from having kids -- being a parent is seriously the best thing that ever happened to me, and I wouldn't take a second of it back for anything in the world. But don't let the parenting books and bubbly family sitcoms paint an unrealistic picture for you. If you go into it educated, you'll be in a far better position to make it work out in your favor. They should be required by law to teach this kind of shit in high school. Dick jokes and all.
John has a Twitter. So suck it.
For more Cheese, check out 5 Ways to Avoid Your Terrible Parents' Mistakes and The 4 Most Important Things to Know as a Gamer Parent.