Posted by: laughs4dads | September 10, 2010

A Little Bundle of Sadness

On a September 8th, AOL Health reported the results of a British study that showed that “a significant percentage of parents experience an episode of depression during the first 12 years of a child’s life, with the highest rates of depression occurring in the first year.”

The post, by Justine van der Leun, did not say if the study was done mostly with first-time parents, but I’ll bet it was. Because, really, what could be more depressing than coming to the realization that life as you know it has come to an end.

I remember when Casey was born. We were still living in Manhattan, and, suddenly, we could no longer take advantage of all the city had to offer. We couldn’t make last-minute reservations at the hottest restaurant, or go dancing at the Rainbow Room on a whim. We couldn’t wake up at 3am to go clubbing at after-hours places, or scalp opera tickets at the Met the day of the performance, or accept a late-arriving invitation to attend a gallery opening.

Of course, we never did any of those things before Casey was born, but it was nice knowing that we could, if we happened to suddenly get personality transplants.

My point is that the results of this study are not surprising. Any parent who has looked in the mirror the morning after a sleepless night with a sick baby and realized that it was, in a fact, a mirror they were looking at and not a poster for the latest zombie movie, is bound be less than overjoyed.

What’s alarming is this statistic from the post:

“Since 1993, the paternal depression rate has steadily risen, and the maternal rate has stayed the same.”

Dr. Carolyn Landis, a pediatrician and psychologist who specializes in children’s developmental and behavioral issues at Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital in Cleveland offers an explanation: “In developed nations, fathers are taking more responsibility for the children, which may account for the rise,” the post quotes her as saying.

Yes, gone are the good old days when the men would go off to work at the ad agency and leave their wives home with the eight kids and the housekeeper and a carton of Marlboros, which cost less then than a single pack does now, so mom could afford to puff away all day while she dealt with all the stress of parenthood until dad came home and tripped over the ottoman. I may be mixing up TV shows a little, but you get the idea.

Now that dad at least shares some of the parenting duties, he also gets to share some of the depression and, hopefully, some of the Zoloft.

But here’s the thing: I refer you now to my post of June 21st, It’s All Our Fault, which was about another study that showed “that stresses experienced by parents and other caregivers can affect a child’s developing brain architecture and chemistry in a way that makes some children more susceptible to stress-related disorder later in life.”

In other words, having kids makes us depressed, which stresses us out, which causes our kids to stress out, which is really going to screw up our grandchildren.

And that brings me to my revolutionary proposal for solving all the depression and stress in the world.

Simply kill all the researchers.

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