A friend recently asked me this question, and honestly, I’d never thought about it. My default response was always, “Of course!” But he knows much of my story and was wanting a more considered response. “With all you’ve had to deal with and go through, would you do it again?” Whoa! That’s no small consideration!
My initial response was basically that strictly “on paper” it makes no sense. I see these scenes in shows and hear folks in real life say things like,” I’m just not ready!” Often, I just chuckle because no one ever is! And if you think you are, you’re probably about to find out how wrong you are or about to foul up without knowing it until later. Being a father, or more specifically a Dad, is not something you’ll be wholly ready for; it is more of an adventure with challenges you’ll have to figure out along the way. Some challenges will even feel impossible!
On paper, a child is prohibitively expensive. A child will test you, leave you sleepless, and will take a toll on your physical & mental health! And that’s an average child! Your kid might be special needs or need extensive medical care at some point! Some children will even run afoul of the law or, at least, be accused of such choices. That doesn’t sound like fun, right?
So, why would anyone have children? Simply put, because it’s not about living life “on paper!”
Some children are surprises (no child is an accident). Some are the result of considering if mom and dad are willing to take the risk and then intentionally getting pregnant. And some are adopted by families who want to share their love & resources beyond whatever children they already do or do not have. But all children are an adventure!
Adventures carry risks AND rewards! And children carry such unique rewards! Sometimes it’s a sweet note. Other times, it’s a surprise hug or a sweet snuggle while watching some Disney show. Then there’s the moments of pride when something you’ve tried to teach comes back out. Or the times when they do something fantastic that you never imagined they could/would. These moments tend to make all the hardship and struggle worth it!
Children stretch you & force you to reveal your selfishness, resulting in either a decision to remain selfish or to sacrifice. If you have kids and haven’t changed, either you’ve not been a parent or you’re lying to yourself. Kids, like any adventure, will change you, if you engage with the adventure!
At the end of the day, the bottom line is this; if you will love your children and do what is best for them, despite what it means for you, personally, then parenthood is totally worth it! But it will require all you can give your children, especially in one modern world that seeks to separate parents from their children and defraud/rip-off our children with lies in pretty packaging.
And, truth be told, we need more committed & dedicated parents, or foster parents, in this world. Our children, biological or adopted or fostered, deserve parents committed to raising them, sacrificing for them, and sticking with them. This doesn’t mean we agree with or condone every choice or impulse, but it means we don’t give up the fight and we hold the line, loving them, and encouraging them to seek the Truth and discourse with us as they grow. And, though this shouldn’t have to be said, it also means you never quit on them; you pray, encourage, dialog, and reach out, even hoping against all odds sometimes. But you never quit.
As a final thought, and maybe I’ll do a separate post on this, our children’s needs shift as they grow. The baby that needed locks on the cabinet has different needs than the teen that has started thinking more like an adult and needs to discuss rather than just being told. This doesn’t change our responsibility to hold the line but it changes how we go about that. Sometimes this reality isn’t obvious, and we all need little reminders now al then.
Well said Dad! Now having adult children who are parenting teens and up, it leads me to hope the example I set will guide their actual decisions!!!