To have or not to have

I ran into an interesting article the other day about having children. You can read it here. The article specifically addresses some of the reasons why people decide not to have children. I don’t think there are a lot of people who set out to be bad parents but I can understand why it’s a fear. We all know the horror stories of crimes committed by individuals and the focus automatically goes to the parents as people begin to wonder what bad parenting skills created someone who could do “such a thing.” There also aren’t a lot of people who would argue that the world needs more people in it and I think a lot of millennials have taken on the perspective that they don’t want to add to the already existing problem. All in all, I think the article was pretty thought provoking and it made me wonder about the long term ramifications for society.

Good Parenting

Recently I’ve had the chance to interact with some good parents in a professional setting. This is in contrast to the hundreds of bad ones that I interact with. I’ve never been a parent but I know it’s a hard job. I loathe waking up to take my dog out in the middle of the night–let alone getting up several times a night to tend a sick child or feed a hungry baby. It’s a job with rewards, setbacks, challenges, and achievements. I’ve heard many people say that the reason they don’t have kids is because they’re too selfish and I can understand where they are coming from. Selfish parents are the worst. I’ve met them. People more concerned about their money, appearance or property than their child’s welfare, happiness and safety. That’s why I’m always so excited to meet people who are good parents and whose kids actually like them. One of the biggest perks of having kids who like you is that the will fight tooth and nail for you when you’re too old to do it for yourself. There’s nothing like addressing a complaint from an irate adult child about their parent’s care. It’s an experience I don’t relish but I don’t get upset about it because they are genuinely concerned about their parent and the fear comes out in the emotion of anger. I say all that to say that having a kid is like an investment in your future if you get a good kid and you raise them in a way that doesn’t mess them up forever. Easier said than done in my opinion–especially with the amount of selfish parents out here. 

The Philanthropic Choice

I feel like giving a warning that this blog post will be somewhat off the wall. It’s the Christmas season and one of the things society seems to do is acknowledge and provide services for people they’ve ignored all year. We buy presents and volunteer our time to help the needy. Part of my job is working with kids who have come from abusive situations with different challenges and providing a variety of social work related services to them. In addition to the work done by staff, there are community members and volunteers who have stepped up to do great things for the kids. They’ve sacrificed their time and their resources to do something extra special for kids who may not have ever had someone care about them. And while some of these contributions come during the holiday season, others come throughout the year. Yesterday I had the chance to witness a community contribution to the kids. There was a group of local businessmen who wanted to do something special and buy gifts for all the kiddos. I’m going to take a quick break from the story to share an observation/insight. I don’t know if it’s the media or society in general, but we are really conditioned to associate masculinity with ginormous American-built trucks. A man who drives a Ford F-250 with an extended bed and a lift kit is miles ahead of the man saving the environment in a Toyota Prius. At least in certain regions of the country. Needless to say, the trucks they drove were of the aforementioned category. It would be unfair to the integrity of the story not to mention the fact that these businessmen appeared to be in their late 20’s early 30’s and were also very very extremely attractive (you get the point). But I digress. The trucks were filled with presents for the kids and every single kid got one. Many times in these situations the toys come as a result of a toy drive and aren’t necessarily specific to what the kid wanted. There’s also usually a price limit that while reasonable doesn’t always meet the wants of the kids. However these kids had all submitted a wish list and these guys had gone out and bought what the kids asked for. They were not cheap gifts. Jordan’s, huge toy sets, electronics, and $100 gift cards were among the gifts given to the kids. It was wonderful to see the kids faces light up with joy as they got what they had asked for. It was just as fun for the guys giving out the gifts. I’m reminded of the reasons why philanthropy is so important. Giving of yourself is great, but you can also have a significant impact when you have the monetary means to help as well. I don’t know how many times I’ve wished I could give to a particular cause or wish that I’ve had more to give to a particular cause. That being said, I want to have the means to not only set up my kids to be in a great financial position but also to make a sustainable difference in the lives of others. Getting a building named after you is good, but we can’t forget the importance of investing in people. That wasn’t off the wall at all.

Pregnancy Contracts

I must admit, as a childless adult, the idea of pregnancy contracts was completely foreign to me before I stumbled upon this article. The idea of a pregnancy contract is that it specifies the responsibilities of each parent at the arrival of a baby. While I personally think that it’s a good idea to have a discussion about responsibilities and that this kind of contract may be a godsend for parents who are no longer romantically involved, it’s not foolproof. The fact that you signed a contract is probably not going to be your motivation at 3am in the morning when the baby is crying. A contract is only as good as the people who sign it and stand by it. It’s a great concept that is designed to reduce stress but unlike a pre-nup, it involves a third variable. Would you really take your spouse to court because they didn’t hold up their end of the bargain? I’m sure that some people would do just that but at the end of the day, the arrival of a new baby should be a conversation topic. Expectations of parenthood should be discussed. I’ll even go a step further to say that parenting duties should be a pre-marriage discussion and even quite possibly in a section of the pre-nup so that expectations are clear from day one instead of trying to decide after the baby arrives. But that’s just what I think.

Appropriate Parent

I am someone who rarely goes to movies but I just saw the Equalizer and thought about how hard it is to see anything without thinking of the mental health repercussions. Granted, it was a good movie for being a thriller and the story line was a bit unsurprising but I did enjoy it. Without going into details about the movie I will say that Denzel Washington is an amazing actor that does not look like he is almost 60. The movie was rated “R” for a variety of reasons that included profanity and violence. Not my cup of tea. One of the surprising things was the amount of parents that took their small kids to see the movie. I will never understand how it’s justified to bring a small child to a movie with violence and adult themes. This perspective comes directly from working with kids who have acting out behaviors. Many times these kids have not had supervision or they’ve been exposed to things that have not been age appropriate. As much as I believe In the importance of age appropriate material for kids, it’s obvious that others don’t share that perspective. I just wish that some parents had the maturity and presence of mind to realize that their choices on what’s appropriate for their children can lead to a lot of heartbreak in life if they decide to imitate what they’ve seen.

Annoying Homeschoolers

I ran into this article a few days ago and found it quite intriguing. I remembering people asking my mother questions about socialization and what we were missing in out in “real” school. While my social skills may not be the best known to man, I know plenty of kids who went to more traditional school and still exhibit a lack of social skills. Homeschooling gave me the freedom to do what I wanted (within reason). In a world where people are being taught the same thing, it’s nice to have the chance to think outside of the box. The thing about homeschooling is that it’s something that a lot of people do not understand. There is a societal expectation that children should be institutionalized between the hours of 8am to 3pm in order to learn the things they need to be able to succeed in life. The thought behind homeschooling is that learning can happen outside of those hours and that every kid is different and therefore they need more of a tailored educational plan. I was probably one of the annoying homeschoolers mentioned in the article growing up. I was a bookworm and somewhat of a know it all. Now, I will admit that homeschooled kids tend to stand out when compared to other kids. I’ve noticed it myself many times. However there’s something to be said about having an experience that many people have never had. Plus, I think that many times it is the un-homeschooled people who find homeschoolers annoying. But that’s just my opinion.

Sharing is Caring

Sharing is Caring

This article really made me think. The author brings up some great points about teaching children that they have the right to say “no.” While I don’t think that this example is extreme, I do think that more of a middle ground could be created between sharing and not sharing. The truth is that many people in the world don’t share but I don’t know if that’s a real life lesson that should be demonstrated to a toddler. Fostering a good sense of empathy might naturally lead to more sharing as opposed to just teaching it as a behavior.