This is a letter to parents and non-parents. It is a letter of my thoughts and concerns about a recent trend I see in articles where people are complaining about parenthood. As a woman who struggles with pregnancy issues, I am deeply hurt by this and here’s why.
First, I would like to speak directly to parents. Over the last couple weeks, I’ve read a few articles in which mothers, specifically, are stating that they do not like their child because the child isn’t living up to the expectations she had for him or her. One particular article was about a mother who didn’t connect with her child because something was wrong and she didn’t know what. However, this mentality, to me, is simply wrong. A child is a unique human being. Unique in every way. He or she is not your mini-me, although some children mimic one or both parents. A child is not your carbon copy. He or she is half of you. He or she isn’t always going to like what you like or want to do what you want to do. I do not know what it is like to raise a child with special needs or challenges. And I applaud the parents who take the challenge and love the child as they are. I have never heard a parent of a child with special needs claim they could not love their child because of these challenges.
My daughter is 5 years old and is growing in her independence and I enjoy watching her make her own decision and, despite the craziness in my eyes, she goes with her choices. She’s sassy and sometimes talks back. She can be frustrating and obstinate but she is learning to create her own boundaries and limits. Yes, she likes to read like I do; however, I recognize that she might not want to read the same books I did at her age. She may discover her own childhood favorites. She likes some of the same things her father and I do; however, we did not force them on her. We introduced them to her and allowed her to grow to love them as we do. We realize that it could have gone the other way and she could have hated everything that we love.
Bottom line is you need to love your child for the unique human being that he or she is. Help them grow into the person that God has intended them to be. Introduce them to the wide world out there and let grow into the adults which will take over once we are old and gone. They may like what you like but if they don’t or they want to try new and different things, let them. You may discover you have the next great artist or musician or athlete on your hands. Something you won’t discover until you let them try and be who they are.
Second, I want to speak to the people considering having children. Some people, like me, have always known they wanted kids. I grew up around kids. I’ve been changing diapers and generally taking care of children since I was 10 years old. I’ve watched as my aunts and uncles interacting with their children. I’ve seen the good times and I’ve seen the stern disciplines and lectures. I knew parenting would be difficult but rewarding too. When I read an article in which a mother regretted having her children, my heart broke for her children. As a woman who has struggled, and continues to struggle, having children, it angers me to hear that a woman regrets having her children. A child should never be a regret. Yes, parenting is hard and it’s exhausting. You learn to live on little sleep because your baby is teething and can’t sleep and he or she is in pain. You learn to sleep in uncomfortable positions because your little one has had a nightmare and she has crawled into bed with you.
Right now, my husband and I are struggling to get our daughter to sleep in her own bed. She is afraid of the dark and she’s afraid that someone will come into her room while she’s asleep. Where her room is, she can hear people walk across the walkway to their apartments and it can be very noisy. It’s frustrating that she won’t lay down and go to sleep. But when she crawls into our bed and she curls up next to me with her head on my shoulder, I hold her tight as I cherish that she still wants to be next to me. I know one day she’ll be able to sleep on her own and I will still encourage her to do so. However, I will welcome the chance to hold her tight when I can.
Bottom line, if you are considering having children, think long and hard about how life will change with children. Nothing can really prepare you for kids. Babysitting someone else’s kids will give you a glimpse because all children will act and behave differently even within the same family. Some babies are a joy to be around and others are clingy and cry nonstop. If you are not willing to put someone else’s needs in front of your own wants and desires, then you need to put off having children until you feel you can do that. Because that little child depends on you for everything and you need to be prepare to do so.
Some people will say that life changes the moment a child is born. I say it’s the instant the test turns positive, life isn’t about you anymore. You need to be concerned with the developing person inside a woman’s body. Once that baby is born, you need to be able to put his or her needs in front of your own and learn to recognize the uniqueness of this new person in our world. For some people, parenting comes easy and for others it’s a challenge. Whatever category you may fall into, seriously consider what it means to be a parent and decide if it’s something you want or can do. I encourage many people to have children. Despite the frustration and sleepless nights, children are blessings. However, I recognize that parenting may not be for everyone. Please consider everything before having children: the good, the bad and the ugly. You may realize that having children isn’t for you or you will better prepare yourself for the ups and downs ahead.
Thank you for listening. I wish you all the best.