The following list is not ordered.
I am glad my parents decided to have me.
My parents seem to be glad they had me.
It appears that my parents and my husband’s parents derive an intense amount of joy from interacting with their first grandchild, more joy than they receive from any other activity.
My family is one of my main sources of happiness and meaning. It will literally die off if I do not have children. (Alternative path: invent longevity technologies? Unfortunately not my skillset.)
I am relatively young, healthy, and financially stable. Statistically my child has a very strong chance of leading a positive utility life.
You don’t have to choose between having a positive impact on the world and having children; you can very much do both.
During my child’s first year of life, I started working on some cool EA Psych/X Risk research.
During my child’s first year of life, my husband published a highly appreciated (objectively measured by upvotes!) AI-alignment literature review and did EtG without getting fired.
Plenty of EAs doing AMAZING work have kids (e.g., Toby Ord, Julia Wise, Michelle Hutchinson, Peter Singer).
Nothing at all was accomplished for the first three months after having a baby. Little was done between 3-6 months. 50% productivity was achieved between 6-12 months. At 12 months, things are pretty good. The massive hit to productivity seems to be a 1 X child event, which, amortized over the next 30 years of our expected careers, is not too bad.
After having a child, I feel more connected to humanity in a way that is difficult to describe but is nice. Things I file under this category include:
Having spontaneous, warm conversations with people who would absolutely never speak to me otherwise when I was visibly pregnant. I lived in the same town for 7 years and went from having approximately 1 conversation with strangers a month to ~10 a month. These interactions were all very kind, and made me very happy. (Your mileage may vary if you don’t like interactions with strangers.)
Going from feeling vaguely positively towards children to feeling incredibly protective of all human children. Reading about violence against children went from unpleasant to intolerable.
Having more positive conversations with my family/my in laws than ever before.
All this being said: the first three months after childbirth is literally torture for whoever is waking up at night to feed the baby. Plus there is a strong possibility that I and/or my baby would have died if I hadn’t given birth in a high quality hospital (we had a prolapsed cord and then a lot of maternal hemorrhaging). So despite all the nice stuff written above, I don’t think it’s an easy decision to make.
Thanks for sharing!
I don’t think anyone denies this. People say that having children will reduce effectiveness, not completely obliterate it.
At 12 months, things are pretty good.
This is nice to hear. How do you think your work productivity now compares to what it would have been if you hadn’t had children?
Also, how confident are you that this will continue? I’m not sure how the difficulty of being a parent is supposed to vary with the age of child, but it seems at least plausible that things can get even more difficult in the years when children are functioning human beings with their own flaws and troubles!
As a parent with older kids, I’ll point out that the demands differ, but (when there isn’t COVID,) you get back to having “work time” when kids are away, without the sleep deprivation that happens in the first year. (Mostly. There are still the occasional night waking, but these are sporadic and get fairly rare, instead of being chronic and making you horrible sleep deprived overall.) And yes, kids will dominate your free time while they are you, but in an enjoyable way (Mostly enjoyable. How much depends on the kids, and the age.) And as they get older, the problems become much more like ones that you’d talk to a (younger, less mature) friend about, rather than being physical issues. Also, around the same time, they start to get more interesting to talk to, and you can teach them cool things, which is awesome. (And yes, I’m sure this changes again once they get to be teenagers. But I’m taking things a year at a time.)