There is never any warning as to what is going to be in the inbox. So, the question was:
How do you know how many kids you should have?”
You are here ——> X
Certainly, the twenty-something, who posed the question, thought she was going to get a number (of baby goats) based on some algorithm devised by a think-tank of pediatricians, psychologists and accountants who studied parenting trends, the economy and the impact of more people on the planet, along with the highlights of the study summary on the “why” for the number. (Evil laughter)
And the envelope says…
Whether you are the parent who always knew two was it or the one who can field a football team- with you as coach- the true issue is parenting. Being a parent is more than birthing children, which nearly any woman can do.
The easy part is providing education, food, clothing and shelter. Yes, it is the easy part. Many grandparents will confess: Had they only had the children they could afford in advance, they would have had none at all. Yet, they successfully raised three, five or more.
That having been said, if you still are not sure if you should have more (or even the first one), please consider this.
Job Description: Bare Bones Minimum
Parents must teach their children, by example, to be kind, compassionate, especially of those less fortunate, and just. Children should learn from their parents to be eco-friendly by recycling, using only what they need and reusing when they can. Meting discipline when it is warranted and sympathy when it is needed is a top priority on the parenting job description.
Values are taught by parents, whether by example, or lack thereof. Honesty, respect, integrity and justice are the first values which leap to mind. Likewise, teaching the pitfalls of avarice, sloth, self-righteousness and entitlement are just as important.
How is a child taught the value of a good day’s work, even when there is not a dollar at the end of it? All of these lessons, and many important others, must be learned in the absence of anger and in the presence of unconditional love.
Have you learned these lessons already or do you require on-the-job training?
The camaraderie of a new baby and a parent is altogether too short a time. Parents love to watch their newborns sleep, to snuggle them and to marvel at their tiny features. All too soon, the little bundle of joy is a drooling toddler whose chosen your mate’s expense report as a teething toy. And you cannot take him to the shelter for piddling on the floor, the wall, the toilet and the bathtub.
The first time a child sheds a tear from a skinned knee, parents feel a heart string pulled almost to the point of breaking. A child allows a parent to feel an amount of love which was previously unavailable.
As children grow into teenagers, the difficulty of maintaining parental perspective emerges. Although teenagers look a lot like adults, they are not prospective friends for their parents.
Teenagers make mistakes. Parents must have faith that they have instilled their children with the knowledge to make the right choices, have patience their children must some lessons on their own and restrained compassion that some lessons are harder learned than others. You cannot enlist them in the Foreign Legion when they fail to see the value of your wisdom.
When children become adults, they view their parents in a new found awe. Parents know a lot more at this stage than they did during the teen-aged years. Parents are prospective friends for the children now!
Do you think that is a perk?
Retirement Not An Option
When faced with harsh reality, pain, grief and extreme happiness, children return to the nest, literally or via electronic device, to share the emotions, wisdom and joy with their parents, provided those parents earned at least a “meets expectations” on the exit interview.
If this is the lifetime commitment you are willing to make, children are for you. Children are much more than a comfort or friend to the parent, a fashion accessory or a rite of passage. They are unmolded citizens, and the parental job is to mold them.
Before you decide how many babies you should have, determine if you are qualified to be a parent and whether or not you are up to the lifelong commitment of parenting.
(c) Red Dwyer 2011
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