Filmmaker Duncan Jones, son of the late David Bowie, has sparked a heated debate after sharing the "exhausting and frustrating" truth of parenting in a series of tweets.
"I have two kids, two-and-a-half and nine months," the 46-year-old wrote. "I'll tell you something I never see anyone admit ... they are exhausting, frustrating and life-destabilizing."
Adding that they are "rarely fun", Jones, who is married to actress Rodene Ronquillo, admitted, "sure smiles are great, hugs are lovely. But it's hard and not obviously a good choice in life."
I have 2 kids. 2 1/2 years & 9 months old respectively.— Duncan Jones (@ManMadeMoon) January 12, 2019
I’ll tell you something I never see anyone admit... they are exhausting, frustrating & life-destabilizing. They are rarely fun. Sure, smiles are great, hugs are lovely, but it’s HARD & not obviously a good choice in life.
In a further tweet, Jones added that while people feel compelled to say, " I wouldn't change it for the world," he doesn't necessarily feel the same way.
"Of course I'd reconsider," he said. "It's exhausting, it's banal."
This is where people feel compelled to say “i wouldn’t change it for the world!”— Duncan Jones (@ManMadeMoon) January 12, 2019
But you know... Of course I’d reconsider!
It’s exhausting! Its banal! It’s like looking after a dog you can’t housetrain.
What it is, is that it is.
& they are mine.
Hopefully they turn out ok.
Noting that "What it is, is that it is, and they are mine," Jones concluded: " Hopefully they turn out okay."
Many were quick to slam the father's words:
Yes, being a parent is exhausting and frustrating and maddening. But so is being a kid - and I expect even more so when you are too young to understand most of what’s happening around you. For what it’s worth - I hope yours never get to see these “of course I’d reconsider” words.— melanie vandenbrouck (@m_vandenbrouck) January 14, 2019
I feel sorry for you that this is how you feel about your kids. It’s like you’re missing the point of being a dad. :/— The🐰FOO (@PolitiBunny) January 13, 2019
Others, however, responded with compassion to a cleary exhausted dad who's deep in the trenches, noting that it does get better.
Don't underestimate how much fatigue clouds the picture. It's like trying to measure something with a mismarked ruler. Just try not to throw either of them out of the window before the summer and then things will look sunnier— Samuel West (@exitthelemming) January 12, 2019
You’re in the tough, exhausting, miserable stage. My twin boys NEVER SLEPT as babies. I was a morning show anchor and always tired. Now they’re 14 and sleep 11hrs and I tell them I want to wake them up at night just to show them how it feels! They just laugh and eat all the food!— Soledad O'Brien (@soledadobrien) January 13, 2019
Thank you for being honest— once a deense (@Deensey) January 14, 2019
Not everyone can be superman, it’s ok to have emotions and struggle sometimes— torp77 (@torp771) January 14, 2019
Jones, of course, isn't the first celebrity to speak up about the trials and tribulations of parenting. Where his comments differ, however, is in his honest remarks about parenthood regret - something that's been called "the last taboo."
And yet, it's a taboo that's slowly breaking. Over the past few years mums and dads have taken to online forums and Facebook groups such as the community "I Regret Having Children", which currently boasts over 14,000 members, to share their own stories and seek support from like-minded strangers.
But while Jones' feelings may change as his children get older, research has shown that's not always the case - at least when it comes to mothers. Motherhood regret over the lifespan was a subject Israeli sociologist Orna Donath explored in research published in 2016.
As part of her study, Donath interviewed 23 women aged from mid twenties to mid seventies – all of whom regretted their choice to have children. What she found was that while most of the mothers stressed that they love their children, they hate the "maternal experience".
"It's complicated because I regret becoming a mother, but I don't regret them, who they are, their personality. I love these people," one interviewee said.
But while Donath's research focused on mums, a 2018 study, published in the Journal of Family Issues analysed Reddit threats on the topic of parenting regret in mums and dads. The team identified two categories of regret. Most commonly, parents regretted circumstances associated with having children, rather than their kids per se. But the second category consisted of people who, like Jones, would reconsider.
The researchers concluded: "Conversations in online forums like Reddit legitimise regret as a unique emotion of parenthood, which defy the social and emotional norms of motherhood and fatherhood roles."
While some people may not like what Jones has to say about parenting, it's clear he's not alone in his feelings.
And for that reason, his comments are important.