When I was little there was a family friend who got married. She had always been nice to me and my siblings and we all liked her. Now from a very early age I was a hopeless romantic, picking out future wedding colors and performing fake weddings with my dolls. Needless to say I was crushed when my family received the invitation to her wedding and it was adults only. I love weddings and I wanted to be there. However, as I’ve gotten older I’ve understood the reasoning behind having a kid free wedding–and would probably have one as well. My siblings and I were raised to not cause loud disturbances in public and “act like we had some sense.” But we were also very aware of others who had not been raised the same way and often recoiled in horror at the behaviors of our peers. I think that children are a blessing. I admire all those who strive to provide a loving and stable homes but I have to admit that my patience isn’t always on point when I hear a crying baby or am delayed unexpectedly because of someone’s kid. The fact is that there are some events that aren’t appropriate for kids that aren’t well behaved and weddings are in that category. I personally would be a little annoyed having a baby cry during the ceremony. It’s not that I don’t understand babies cry but it’s an assault to the eardrums of everyone else without a crying baby. It’s easier to ban all kids than to only invite the well behaved ones. I personally think it would be nice to have one section in a plane dedicated to parents with small children. I know I’m not the only one who breathes a sigh of relief when you see the mother with the baby isn’t sitting on your row. But I digress. My point is that when you don’t have kids, sometimes it’s nice to not be inconvenienced by them. And there’s less well behaved ones these days. Possibly one of the reasons why my next vacation is at an adults only retreat.
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.
Growing up, music was a big part of my life. Both of my grandfather’s appreciated good music and played it quite often whenever my family and I visited. One grandfather had a radio in every room playing a different radio station at all times. It was chaotic but still provided music to fill any resemblance of silence. There are a few members of my family who are quite musical and my grandfather decided that I should have the benefit of music as well. So I started piano lessons at age 5. I took to it like a fish to water. I had a great teacher named Aimee who let me teach myself and just have pointers. I don’t remember how she did it but she taught me to read music in a way that made it easy to learn. In fact, to this day I don’t remember not being able to read music because I was so young when I started. I remember getting my first music book and playing on the black notes before graduation to the white keys. I was so eager to learn that I learned all the music in the book within a week of getting the book. I practiced all the time and really enjoyed it. Abruptly after my lesson my wonderful teacher started to cry and told me that she was moving away. I was devastated. She referred me to another piano teacher who she promised would help me to develop my natural talent. The next teacher I had was a taskmaster. She had a ruler she would use to hit my knuckles when I hit a wrong note. She emphasized technique and memorization. I slowly felt my affection for the instrument fading away as it got swallowed by hours of practicing songs I didn’t like and keeping my nails short. The funny thing is that I actually started to improve. Eventually I changed teachers and started to get even better. I practiced a lot and was faithful in my hand exercises that were designed to make my fingers more nimble. I was being trained to be a classical pianist but my parents religious convictions about certain things prevented me from being in competitions. Needless to say, I knew I was good at playing but I never knew exactly where I was compared to others my age. My parents aspirations for my playing seemed to not go much higher than accompanying a church congregation. However I continued taking piano lessons–even when my favorite teacher died of cancer. All that being said, I had about 16 years of piano lessons. The longest hobby I’ve had to date. Playing an instrument taught me about discipline and sticking with something. I can still read music and I have a deep appreciation and respect for musicians and for music that actually has musical value. While I know that all kids aren’t musically gifted, I think that creative outlets are very important. Children who are perpetually bored tend to find non-productive ways to spend their time that sometimes become criminal in nature. That’s why I think it’s important to support the arts and expose children to somethingthat is new to them.
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.
I’ve been rather busy these past few days. However, one of the things that I’ve noticed that has come up in a lot of conversations is the challenge of having children and raising them in the world we live in today. Usually in the course of these conversations I get asked how many children that I’d like to have. I don’t necessarily have a set answer because I usually tailor it to the personality of the person who is asking me. Being in the field that I’m in and working in the place that I work, I have seen a wide spectrum of parenting skills. Some great and others that make you want to take the child home with you. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that parenting is hard work. Being a good parent is even harder. Firstly, having a child requires a lot of physical pain. And then from that point on, your life is wracked by highs and lows directly related to the creature you brought into the world. I firmly believe that some people should not and don’t deserve to be parents. They don’t have the skills needed to raise a child. It always is nice to see parents that have good relationships with their children because it’s rare. I recently met a lady who was in her 70’s and she explained to me that she never got married or had kids because it would not have worked for her. As a result, she doesn’t have anyone to take care of her and check on her as most of her friends are her age. This is a great example of how not having kids can mess up the cycle of life and leave you alone. However, having children and being estranged from them has pretty much the same effect.That being said, being a good parent requires a large amount of self-control and patience. And while I think that I might possibly be able to raise a child without inflicting lasting psychological trauma, it’s still a responsibility I’m not crazy about acquiring. But you know what they say. Never say never.
Some people say that a picture is worth a thousand words and I think that this one is no exception to that rule. I’ve seen it posted on a few social media sites with some very thought provoking comments made by different individuals. In a world where millions of children are growing up in homes without a consistent male presence, I think that this picture rings true. I have so much respect for single mothers who are working hard and raising their children. I think that family situations like these require a woman to take on additional roles and responsibilities that may traditionally be given to the “man of the house.” When you’re working hard, taking care of business, and raising kids, an ” I don’t need a man” mindset is fairly easy to require. When it’s just you and there is no one else, you begin to become more self-reliant and creative in order to ensure that things run smoothly. A life like this sometimes comes about because of necessity as opposed to a conscious choice. You do what you have to do in order to survive. Period. The lady on the left is right. She doesn’t need a man because she is doing everything on her own. There’s such a delicate balance between an “I don’t need a man” and a “My life isn’t dependent on the presence of a significant other in my life but I’d love to have one” mindset. It’s going to be hard for any man to adjust into a familial environment like the one depicted in the picture because the odds are already stacked against him. His contributions to the family won’t be as appreciated because he isn’t “needed.” Bitterness sometimes comes as a result of these situations and unfortunately, it affects children in one way or another and can perpetuate the cycle as the picture suggests. Folks, we’ve got to do better.