Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Ken Connor: Parenting About Purpose, Not Happiness

Ken Connor wrote a column titled "The Purpose of Parenting" in which he bemoans the present-day attitudes many have determining their decisions whether or not to have children. Opened the column citing an article in New York Magazine titled "All Joy and No Fun: Why Parents Hate Parenting”.

Sure hope no minors got a hold of that one, especially not through their parents.

The article is correct that in many ways, we have made children liabilities instead of assets. That’s just a legal, financial, and social reality. Connor comments:

In other words, children have gone from being mere products of economic necessity to the ultimate lifestyle accessories – features of the contemporary American "success story" not unlike the SUV and luxury automobile parked in the driveway.
Left out of this is the fact that in the past, not all children were born out of economic necessity. Many children were born for no other reason than they were the natural result of intercourse, which people were engaging in for enjoyment or material gain, or because they were being raped. Some children who were not killed via abortion were killed or abandoned at birth, or died of illness or accident. And today, even with surgeries that will eliminate the possibility of conception, various forms of contraception, and various forms of legal abortion, people who did not seek to become parents and raise children to have "lifestyle accessories" still do because they want to engage in intercourse and are too lazy to prevent pregnancy, don’t want to murder their child, and either grow to desire the child or are too messed up to put the child up for adoption. Or they have children to try to trap a partner. There are many, many reasons why people want to have children, and not all of them are realistic or noble.

What's truly fascinating – and not just a little troubling – however, is that our society has reached the point where we are using a "balance sheet approach" to assess the value of children (net worth equals assets minus liabilities) and a gain/strain ratio to evaluate the benefits of parenting. We now live in a world where the decision to procreate has become a "lifestyle choice" to be weighed against the benefits of remaining free to devote ourselves and our lives to, well, ourselves.
I don’t think it is a bad idea if people honestly assess themselves and what they want out of life and what having a child will mean before they make baby. They should grasp the reality that if they are going to be good parents, just about every aspect of their life is going to change with parenthood. There are many things I haven't been able to enjoy like I did before I became a parent. I was aware that life would change in this way, but it was still impossible to fully grasp ahead of time the entiretly of what was going to happen.

Each time a man and woman conceive a child, they are participating in God's larger creative plan for the world.
I agree, and it is most definitely a spiritual experience to become a parent - from the pregnancy through tbe birth through it sinking in who you are to this child. It is also quite an experience that leads to conception. Every time I see or feel my naked wife, I'm reminded there is a God, and He has blessed me.

It's a good column. Go read the whole thing.

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