Parenting is the hardest and greatest job that I have had.

It presents the thorniest problems and generates the greatest rewards.

We had the pleasure of spending most of yesterday with our three kids and their significant others.

The occasion was our oldest daughter’s masters thesis presentation at her MFA program.

She is an artist who works with computer generated imagery and animation.

The work she made for her thesis was a five to seven minute animation loop and I probably watched it five or six times yesterday afternoon.

It was the first time I had seen it and I was amazed at its beauty, its quality, and the emotions it conveyed.

Needless to say, I am proud of her and also all of the other artists that showed their work alongside her.

We then spent the rest of the afternoon with our other kids hanging out and having fun with them.

Then we all got together for a late (for me) dinner that was celebratory and fun.

As the dinner ended, I sided up next to The Gotham Gal, put my arm around her, and said “that was a good parenting day.”

She looked at me and smiled.

I have loved all of parenting; rocking them to bed, the late feedings, changing the diapers, teaching them things, family vacations, the teenage years, leaving home, the college years, and the early adult years.

As I write those things, I also recall the challenges of each of them and the moments where we did not know what to do in certain situations.

But we figured it out and got through it and moved on to the next stage.

We certainly got better at it over time but we have never felt that we have parenting figured out.

Now we are in the phase where our kids are adults and accomplishing things that amaze and impress us.

They understand things we don’t understand, they do things we can’t do, and they are having successes that we have little part in.

That makes me feel so good.

I don’t believe our work is done. I believe we will be parenting for as long as we live.

But I do believe that the work is easier and the gains are richer.

But most of all I am reminded that our best work is done at home and the fruits of it are measured in joy.

#life lessons

Comments (Archived):

  1. awaldstein

    Thanks Fred.So true.Everyone has their unique revelations around a common truth here.I think hard about the reverberating lines about parenting and children that came out of two favorite movies of mine– Lost in Translation and Laurel Canyon.And often about my singular experience raising my boy mostly on my own from mid teen years on. And how great friends we are to each other now, years later.Yet the ending belief and sentiment that you end with through a very different lifecycle of experiences in something we do share completely.

  2. danaabcd

    Fred, this is a joy to read. Makes me so happy. Congratulations to you Joanne and Jessica.

    1. fredwilson

      Thanks Dana

  3. Julie Lerner

    Lovely post. I am not a parent, but a sideline coach to my boyfriend who lost his wife a few years back. Was a challenging week for him along the lines of teenage boy antics, and I am quite certain he will appreciate your sentiments.

  4. Dave Roderick

    Well said, Fred. Thanks.

  5. Sean Leong

    I think all of us have quite a bit hit our inbox and yet….Fred, I always look forward to reading your thoughts on the world. Keep it coming from parenting to Funding Friday, it makes me smile and think (which is a great combo!).

  6. pointsnfigures

    Yuppp. Same stage of life for me. One of my daughters works for a start up ( and the other just got into Northwestern Law. They both work their tails off and every stage of life has been a blast with them.Interestingly, my grandfather and grandmother built a very close and unique relationship with each of their grandchildren. They both lived till they were 98 so they also had the benefit of time to do it-but they were in good health as well. I love where we have been but am looking forward to the future.

  7. Paul Brown

    Such a great post, Fred. The humbling thing about parenting for me is how it defies causal linkages. I check myself whenever I’m tempted to take credit for the good things and try to remind myself to not take too much blame when kids’ choices aren’t great. I agree with you that it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It’s hard and wonderful and challenging and rewarding and very, very meaningful.My parents are still going strong and have been married nearly 70 years. Whenever my siblings and I express gratitude to them for their excellent parenting of us they are extremely and genuinely humble, and usually say something like, “we had no idea what we were doing and just muddled through.”

  8. Sean McNamara

    The ultimate ROI. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Kelly LeValley Hunt


  10. Chimpwithcans

    My eldest daughter just had her 4th birthday party. Similar pride, fewer presentations involved 😉 Thanks for sharing.

    1. pointsnfigures

      I love that age! Love em all actually but pre-K they are so much fun.

  11. Tom Labus

    Congrats on the milestone day and your sentiments about it. Great post!!

  12. John Frankel

    The real question is what type of grandparent you want to be. If your kids each have three then that is 9 grandkids. What relationship do you want with them? What relationship do your kids want you to have with them?These should be active choices.We live in an age where life expectancy and wealth give people far more choice how to interact with more generations than before.

    1. John Frankel

      Congrats, by the way.

    2. fredwilson

      Great points. I would like to be a very engaged grandparent. But I also know that is to some extent up to our children to decide.

      1. John Frankel

        We are there, and it is very much your children’s decision. People talk about being empty nesters when the kids leave home, and we just have not found that to be the case. Wonderfully so.

        1. Mike Zamansky

          When we had our first, my mom grudgingly said she’d help take care of her a day or two to help offset the financial burden.After the second day “cancel your nanny search – NOBODY’s taking care of Batya except me!!!!!!”And she did until she passed. We’re forever grateful for the time and the relationships both our kids had with her.

  13. Mac

    Three sons. Like me, neither of you can imagine your life without them.

  14. William Mougayar

    There is a bit of parenting in VCing too, no? Maybe mentoring & supporting are the common threads.

    1. Donna Brewington White

      He has had some interesting posts about this.Even sometimes when he did not make the direct analogy, it has come through.

  15. rich caccappolo

    Moving. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing. Congratulations

    1. William Mougayar

      Nice one for you to share.

  16. iggyfanlo

    Thanks for the warm fuzzy this morning

  17. Donna Brewington White

    Heartwarming post, Fred. I’ve been tracking with your and GG’s parenting for 10 years and you’ve been an inspiration.I spoke about you so often when my kids were younger that my oldest once said during a heated discussion “I bet Fred Wilson would agree with me!”Our youngest goes off to college in the fall. One of our other kids will be at home a while longer. Due to health issues as a child requires a different launch plan than the other three.The very pleasant surprise has been how much parenting we still do with our young adult children. A friend described it as transitioning from the role of manager to consultant.Another pleasant surprise is how much I continue to grow as a person through being the parent of young adults.Our oldest went through a stage where his parents could do nothing right. More than the norm. Rough years. Now he tells his friends that if he calls his mom for advice he knows he will find the right solution. He actually “loaned me out” to one of his friends who was struggling. Prompted by her shock at discovering how open about his life he is with his parents.My heart is full!

    1. William Mougayar

      Judging by following you and yours, +++++ !!

      1. Donna Brewington White

        Thanks so much, William!

    2. BillMcNeely

      I need to pull out Fred /Gotham Gals advice on finances for kids

  18. Mark Marino

    Three sons, age 23, 21 and 19 and never a day goes by without experiencing a sense of wonder and amazement. Being a single parent for approximately half of their lives has presented unique, and ultimately, rewarding challenges. Over the years, family and friends alike have commented how decidedly different the boys are from each other. My response is that is the beauty of it! They have already taken me to places that I could not have imagined and it only gets better as they (and we) grow. While not necessarily a kid when I became a parent (I was 31 when my oldest was born), I often think of a quote that is attributed to Yogi Berra that goes something like this “get married young, have kids and grow up with them”.

  19. sigmaalgebra

    From reality, tradition, common sense, and some basic economics, you and GG have more to do, just the second act, where in part you get a do-over, as GRAND PARENTS. Bring on the grand kids!!!

  20. Jeff J

    Same here, I chat with him almost daily as I hear his voice in my head as I’m solutioning some mini crisis or the other.

  21. Boris Wertz

    The parenting feed-back loop is as long as the VC feed-back loop (if not longer) – looks like you have been 10 years ahead of me on both learning curves 🙂

  22. Jack Harrison

    Appreciate the personal post. There is a parallel to your (our) businesses. I was in a counseling session with my 30 yr old daughter and her video game obsessed husband, and after attempting to provide some adult direction, I said, “I just want the best for you guys.” My daughter retorted, “We don’t want your best for us.” Hmmm…I realized at that moment that regardless of my significant investment in them, at 30 yrs of age, they have to find their own way even if I think I know better through experience. That’s a luxury and a risk that we can’t often take with the businesses in which we heavily invest, and I needed to learn the lesson.

  23. Karthik Hariharan

    Fred, I have enjoyed your blog posts for the past nearly 8 years, when I first started on my journey as an “accidental entrepreneur”.As an entrepreneur, I found many of your posts inspirational and your comments (and the community’s commentary) contained ideas and advice that were frequently helpful.As an employee at a large company now (after the acquisition of my last start-up), I look forward to the daily emails from AVC as a refreshing peek into not just the entrepreneurial world but society at large.I find nearly all your posts thoughtful, wise and from the heart. But this one is one of your best. And it has prompted my first comment on this platform and community.It is true. When all is said and done and we look back on our lives, the work we have done as parents is perhaps our most tangible and important contribution we can make to society. And clearly one that will be the most meaningful one to most people (even if they might have not recognized it at that time), notwithstanding whatever their other achievements in life.And it is such a hard job, one that we (I at least) feel we are constantly not doing as well as we could. For an entrepreneur, their start-up is their (second) baby. Balancing start-up and parenting, now that was hard. It’s great to hear your personal reminiscence on this critical topic, now that you are enjoying the dusk of your parenting days and the fruits of success of a life well lived, as a venture professional and as a parent.Wish you and your tribe continued meaningful moments in life, thank you for sharing.

    1. pointsnfigures

      Yes. Too many people wait to get married and then wait again to have kids. “I need it all figured out” they think. Heck, I still don’t have it figured out. Just do it.

      1. sigmaalgebra

        Early in my teens, my parents explained to me often “the babies just came”. So, for one of the biggest parts of life, little or no planning, and I was horrified.Later I learned that for a huge fraction of the babies, “just do it” or it didn’t happen at all.So, how could that possibly work? Well, once the baby does arrive, nearly always the parents, especially the mother, DO “make room for one more at life’s table”. Apparently lots of hormone driven emotions are involved.Hmm, I was surprised but not strongly reassured ….And what about, say, 6 years after the last baby and the effects of the hormones are worn off? Yup, there can be big problems with the parenting, the marriage, etc. It is as if Mother Nature was mostly satisfied with the 6 good years of parenting and willing to have the kids “make do” as best they could after that. I was shocked.So, the euphemism for birth was “a blessed event”. Hmm ….So, it has long been really easy for girls and young women to see some mothers worn out by motherhood: One of Mom’s remarks was poor women who had lost their teeth due to giving the calcium in their teeth to their babies due to malnutrition. Gads.So, a lot of girls and young women can look at motherhood as a threat of a grand disaster for their lives. One attitude was that motherhood was when “a woman gave up the best years of her life and her career to do low grade, menial scut work to raise some man’s children” — lot of negativity there. Yet several women I knew who expressed that bitterness were, from some emotional drives, perfectly willing to get pregnant; the ones that did get pregnant DID take motherhood seriously at least until the youngest was in high school.Long IMHO currently one of Darwin’s big changes is to arrange that BOTH (i) couples REALLY DO want to be parents and GOOD parents AND (ii) really DO plan, budget, and work effectively to that goal.Parenting, apparently something usually done with less in instructions than how to use a cell phone and less in planning than a Sunday afternoon trip and picnic to a local zoo.

  24. harris497

    Beautiful and true. Seems rare these days. Thank you for sharing Fred.

  25. The Mariachi VC

    Thank you for this. My wife and I thinking about having children soon, and while I am still deep in thought about having children now or waiting a year, this has given me grain to chew on.

  26. Vitomir Jevremovic

    yesterday, in the time of writing this post, I just got my first baby! Crazy coincidence! you see a post that feels like it was written for you and that the cosmos somehow made this equation happen. Thanks Fred!

  27. DJL

    This was a beautiful post. I missed it “live” because I was spending time with my young children and older parents up in MI. It is fun to talk to my parents about their challenges as I have them with my kids. It’s the best part of my life by far.

  28. Paul Rubillo

    Great post Fred! It’s a journey to say the least to get to where you sit now with kids and grandkids. Since I’m the first of the family to leave the east coast (San Diego), it’s an adjustment now and will be for my wife and I as we watch our college-age kids decide where to plant their roots. Much of my family were born on the east coast and stayed in the east coast. My wife and I have embraced the reality that we will be a traveling band when it comes to our kids, holidays, and family occasions. My guess is my kids will be following in our footsteps as they settle where they find happiness and opportunity. I hope to one day be in those same seats you and your wife sit now, getting to smile wide and watch the future generations carry the torch for future decades.

  29. kidmercury

    yeah joy seems like a great word to use to capture the sentiment. the adjectives i use to describe my kids are annoying, ungrateful, and expensive. but the noun that embodies my experience of them is joy.

  30. Jim Borden

    thanks for sharing such an intimate glimpse into your life, and congrats to you daughter on completing her thesis.

  31. Andrew Mulvenna

    Congrats on the successful art installation!She may want to stop by the Barbican in London for this art exhibition: AI More than Human.Our VC is having a team afternoon off to enjoy it.

  32. wre

    When my wife was pregnant with our first, I spoke to a friend who had a two year old, and he said it “all had been great”. I said something like, “well, maybe not the no-sleep changing-of-diapers phase”, and he said “no, all of it”. Now that I have two kids (7 & 4), I completely agree with him (and Fred): *all* of it has been great!