"Many men can build a fortune but very few men can build a family." - J.S. Bryan
Parenting is one of the most difficutl responsibilites in the world, and anyone who takes this challenge deserves much praise and respect. I am not sure the context for which Bryan spoke or wrote these words, but few words may be truer. It should be written, "Many people can build a fortune but very few people can build a family." I often say that marriage is God's greatest discipleship tool, as it requires each to look not only to their own interest but to the interest of [their spouse] (Philippians 2:1-5). Parenting may be God's second greatest discipleship tool as it continues to teach us to look to the needs of another while simultaneuously teaching us humility and patience. I cannot overstate how difficult parenting can be.
My Child is not your Birth Control This blog series is based on the expereince Robin (my wife) and I have had over the past four years of parenting. It comes as a response to two different situations. First is the negative attention and passive aggressive (though I believe ignorant) opinions of people about children. This past weekend I was reviewing my newsfeed on Facebook while waiting for my flight to return home to my family. I was a bit anxious and ready to see my wife and kids. There is no better experience than walking into the room of your awaiting family after being gone for a few days. Missing my kids and reflecting on my love for them I came across a friends status which went something like this, "Hanging out with a little girl the past few days is the best form of birth control possible." Yes...I know...hahaha...but seriously this ticked me off. I am sure she meant nothing by it but this type of comment does two things. It makes parents feel like they are bad parents when their children act up, and it tells the world that children are a nusainces to society. This type of attitude puts undue stress on parents that eventually puts undue stress on young children. I see way more adults acting up than I see children acting up. If a 2-yr-old acts up, whines and cries, they are acting like a 2-yr-old. But what can be said of adults who act up? I hope to stand up for parents during this series. We often laugh with the person who makes a statement like the above, but few people ever stick up for the parent who is giving his or her best effort. I hope to be that voice.
Lucky Ducks? While parenting is most certainly a difficult journey, it is also one of the most rewarding journeys. Robin (my wife) and I have been greatly blessed and rewarded with three amazing children. They are by no means perfect, but they have been relatively easy children. Our childrens relatively good behavior is another reason for this series. My wife and I for the most part were the first of our close friends to have children. Our first child (Safari) was absolutley amazing! Knowing how easy our daughter was, a friend asked how we did it. I chose to plead the fifth, explaining it was our first child and we could just be lucky to have such an easy baby. After Safari came Sojo who has been pretty good and now we have Kanoa who has been great! I feel comfortable (with humility) saying we are three for three with our children.
Parenting is not only very difficult, it is also somewhat personal. Many people take it personally when their children, especially babies, cry and are difficult to please. This is when it is good to have friends around to offer support, encouragement and wisdom. Unfortunately many people immediately disarm another's ability to help by suggesting they are "just lucky" to have such well-behaved children. This often happens to us. At first it did not bother Robin or I because we were not sure. Maybe we were JUST LUCKY. But it has become a bit frustrating. Yes, I absolutely believe Robin and I are lucky or blessed, but we are blessed for different reasons than some may think. After much thought and reflection on parenting I have come to believe Robin and I are lucky/blessed not because we were "just lucky" to get easy babies, but because of the things we do naturally (some consciously and some sub-consciously). Some of our life rhythhms and habits suit parenting very well (I'll explain this in later blogs).
I have to ask with great love and respect that those who call parents lucky to stop. Let's choose a diffferent lens to view anothers fortune through. By suggesting parents are lucky, you are inadvertently suggesting they are not really doing things right. Instead, they are just...well lucky. This type of remark disarms or blocks parents from offering any sort of advice. Robin and I take parenting very seriously. To suggest that our children are good by mere luck is a bit insulting. I know people do not mean to insult us, but think about it. If you told me you got a promotion at work and I continuouslyy said it happened by mere luck, would you not be a bit insulted that I did not recognize your hard work and aptitudee in your field? Why can't parents with good children actually be good parents? Instead of suggesting parents are lucky, why not just ask them what they do? They may or may not know. Maybe they think they are lucky too. If they cannot tell you, observe how they live and how they respond to various parenting situations.
Conclusion I write this series because parenting is difficult. I'm tired of people blasting children and, therefor, inadvertently blasting parents. I want to be a voice for all parents. Our children are not your birth control. I pray that as long as you are too selfish and immature to take on the task, you refrain from all sexual activities.
I also write this series to help parents see why Robin and I may be "lucky". I am not saying Robin and I are better people or will in the end be better parents. I am simply offering our way of parenting and some observations we have made along the way. Please feel free to interact and discuss with me along the way.