Recently a colleague shared an article on parenting and perceived changes in society among younger generations. I suppose “older” generations have always been harsh critics of “younger” generations, but there were several interesting points made in the article.
The gist of the article (and I encourage you to read it for yourself) is summed up in this quote from the article;
…there’s a growing and largely ignored group of mothers all over the world who are confessing their regret over having children. Day after day, as they change diapers, drive to soccer practice, and help with college applications, they fantasize about a life unburdened by dependents and free from the needs of others. A do-over.
I can certainly identify with (and remember) the stressful times of dealing with our (anyone’s) first child — it’s all “new” and “unsure” and “no sleep” and “anxiety”. Dads get to run to work in the morning, engage in adult conversation and then drag themselves home at night often to a mom who looks like she’s been mauled by lions. Some dads muster the courage to grab the child/children and hustle them to the park for playtime and give mom a break, but some may grab a drink and head for the TV (leaving “mom” to finish making dinner without suffering an emotional breakdown). Adding a second or third child adds to the stress of juggling schedules, school, extracurricular activities, etc. Oh, and add “homeschooling” to the list.
Still, I think this article is driving at a different point. Not only are some moms frustrated by the change in lifestyle, but some dwell on what might have been instead of having a family. Here’s another quote to illustrate;
“I wonder if my accomplishments would be more spectacular,” says Ananya, a 38-year-old freelance writer and editor who divides her time between the United States and Singapore. “Would I have written my second or third book? Would I be able to travel to chase that elusive story? I feel motherhood has slowed me down so much. She envies friends not for their spontaneous vacations and naps, but for the time and space they have to think.
I would imagine there are Dad’s who fall into this same analysis and it’s not fair to single out moms as the sole bad actors in the analysis. Dads do get to pursue their career, but they could easily build up a silent resentment for not being able to take a job in China opening up a new sales division or having other younger, single men take key promotions especially if they’re perceived to be less experienced or qualified.
Perhaps it’s important to remember why, as individuals and now as a couple, the choices were made to commit to building a family. There are joys to counter the frustrations, promises from God to offset the discomfort. Still, I like how the author states;
Love is a cross. It always has been, and always will be. The mystery of love is that it demands death — the death of self. Myself. Yourself. Love is only about the other. And when we love, we are released from the prison of resentment and the tyranny of insatiable wants. Love is the only freedom.
A society built around the individual, rather than the family, will petrify into unspeakable emptiness.
- Psalm 127:3 NASB – Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward.
- Psalm 112:1-2 NASB – Praise the Lord! How blessed is the man who fears the Lord, Who greatly delights in His commandments. His descendants will be mighty on earth; The generation of the upright will be blessed.
- Psalm 127:3-6 NASB – Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; They will not be ashamed When they speak with their enemies in the gate.
- John 16:21 ESV – When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.
- Proverbs 17:6 ESV – Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their fathers.
- Psalm 139:13-16 ESV – For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
Children are a blessing from God. We choose to invest ourselves in them so that they can fulfill God’s purposes and plans. A man (or woman) may have many plans in their heart, but it’s the Lord’s purpose that will be carried out (Proverbs 19:21) – we’d be wise to recognize this as inescapable for He created us to carry out His vision and plan for our lives — attempts to go our own way will inevitably be futile and less rewarding (eternally) than being submissive to His leadership.
- Psalm 37:4 ESV – Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
- Psalm 37:5 ESV – Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.
- Proverbs 16:1-3 ESV – The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit. Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.
- Matthew 6:21 ESV – For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
- Proverbs 16:9 ESV – The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.
- Matthew 6:33 ESV – But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Commit your sacrificial love to God, your spouse, and your children. Investing time to walk closer to God and really understand His plan for your life can only help bring context and relief. If you are struggling, talk to your Pastor, Priest or Spiritual Advisor. Seek out like-minded friends and certainly pray about your feelings and struggles.
Christian Service Brigade offers a magazine for parents called “Valor” – http://valormagazine.csbministries.org/ – its free, and you can view it online or subscribe to have it delivered by email. You may find one or more articles that speak to current concerns in raising your son(s), and you can certainly reach out to the editor with suggestions for future articles of interest.