See Why Having Children Should Be Given More than a Passing Thought.
Children are wonderful gifts. They bring laughter, gratitude, and awareness to every single day of our life with them. Children show us how they see the world and we learn the gift of interaction from them. They give us a chance to share our life experiences with them and we both grow from the opportunity to do so. Kids are great.
Children are huge responsibilities. They demand our time, energy, and resources every single day. Children will try our patience and challenge our sense of balance. They want love, attention, and guidance even when we don’t have those things for our self or our spouse. Kids can be frustrating.
“Having a child is like getting a tattoo…on your face. You better be committed.” –Eat, Pray Love screenplay
There are so many contributing pros and cons to parenthood that the assumption that everyone will reproduce and create a family is baffling.
There is no doubt that as a society we have a default assumption that everyone will have, or try to have, a family by the age of 35.
Those expectations obviously highest for married couples. It has become a part of our life cycle, despite how evolved we are as a species, to assume everyone has the same inherent, biological desires.
As we are evolving as a species and a culture, expectations are changing. Many folks are marrying later and couples are making the choice to remain childless.
All young girls receive messages that romance, marriage, maintaining a house, and becoming a mother are positive aspects of adulthood. It is discussed within the family, shown in the toys available in stores, and played out in movies across the world. We generally frame the discussion as an opt-out scenario; folks choose not to get married or not to have kids. This is unfortunate; a more heart-centered conversation starts when we ask if we’re called to be married or to be parents in the first place.
Considering parenting a spiritual calling is radical.
Entering the priesthood, becoming a nun, choosing to become a church minister are all obviously spiritual callings. We acknowledge these commitments come after a long discernment process that involves prayer and self-reflection.
Conversely, people become parents through varied circumstances. Putting aside accidental pregnancy, many parents enter the commitment of raising a child with full consent. The baby is welcomed and parenthood is considered a blessing.
This is wonderful!
Parenthood is a conscious-raising undertaking and should be made with clear-headed awareness.
Also, the decision should only be made by the specific people who are going to be with the child on a daily basis. In other words, communities should be careful not to pressure couples to reproduce if that’s not their calling.
Societal expectations around the world have normalized comments like, “Why don’t you guys have a baby?” “You better hurry up and have kids!” “Who is going to take care of you when you get old?” and this, obviously, puts additional pressure on couples who were not comfortable with the idea of having children. Childless couples are considered abnormal in many circles; couples in most situations have children. While it may be the norm, it does not mean it should be your normal!
Once you have a baby, you are a parent for life. Pregnancy or adoption is just the opening credits to a very, very long movie. You will spend many hours a day with your child for the rest of your life. You are challenged to grow in patience, creativity, understanding, and resourcefulness in a way no adult will ever demand of you. There are many gifts and lessons along the way, but they are not available to all parents.You are only eligible for these gifts and lessons of parenting if you are awake enough to receive them. Click To Tweet
Choosing to be a conscious parent is the most important choice of all.
Regardless of how you ended up a parent, we can chose whether we will be present with our children.
Will we look them in the eyes? Do we understand their fears or confusion? Can we make the time to show them how to do something before we expect perfection? Do we light up with love when we see our child? Will we focus on their strengths and gifts? Can we trust them to make the right choices?
These are daily tasks we must face if we want to stay connected with our children on a soul level.
Beyond keeping them alive with food and shelter, parents should be soulfully present as much as possible.
Laughing at their jokes that have jumbled punch lines, reading favorite books until the binding dissolves, playing the mind-numbing games they enjoy, and preparing messy meals together are all simple ways to be a conscious parent.
Your children are not your children, they come through you, but they are life itself, wanting to express itself. – Wayne Dyer
Allowing TV or electronic devices to dominate our days is the easiest way to become disconnected with our little ones. The good news?We can decide each day how we are going to show up as parents in our children’s lives. Click To Tweet
Parenting is a choice.
Don’t allow anyone else’s expectations determine your future. If they want to be parents, God bless.
Hopefully they made a thoughtful commitment to raising children and are actively engaged in family life. That being said, there is no guilt or shame in making a different choice for your life.
Pray, meditate, write, research, babysit, discuss and observe others until you come to a decision that gives you a sense of peace in your heart. Then stand by your choice with loving firmness.
We are meant to live big, messy, fun, sad, silly, scary, happy lives.
Every life has a different path and different companions along the way. You have my permission (which may not hold up in a court of law) to confidently declare your path and determine your companions on your own terms. It is your right to be happy, with or without children of your own.
Let’s Get Reflective…
- Who pressures you regarding off-spring? How do you react?
- Do you want to have children? Why or why not?
- How do you stay engaged when you’re interacting with youngsters?
- What supports do you have as parent?