A week rarely goes by without the following kind of message coming to my attention from a variety of sources:
“Children are inconvenient and a constant source of worry and pain.”
Parents routinely complain about their own children, no matter their age. Even while they are still in the womb, they begin to cause strife for the parents. The birth is so miraculous and awesome that it occasionally manages to soften the parents’ hearts for a short few hours or days, but very soon the sleepless nights become a source of unwanted stress, and the complaints return with a vengeance. They’re “difficult” or simply not “good” like the other children who sleep conveniently through the night. Parents can hardly wait for them to be able to soothe themselves. How nice it would be if newborns didn’t require so much attention!
Parents complain about their toddlers too. They require constant watch and care and they keep doing things for attention, which is a terrible thing to do to parents whose attention is already so justifiably overbooked by so many important things.
All through their formative years, children just can’t help getting in the way, it seems to be their nature. Parents are so relieved when the can finally hand over their children to foster parents who never complain and are always available: the television, video games, day care centres and finally, graduating from fostering to complete adoption, the state school.
Of course, no child is more troublesome and inconvenient than the lowly teenager, with its innumerable and annoyingly reminiscent host of physical, affective and existential problems. Here again the school offers the ultimate promise of deliverance from this parasite who saps parents’ financial and emotional resources: if he does well, he will leave home earlier and become independent!
My heart breaks when I hear parents complain about their children, because it means they are unaware of the value of their offspring, and the tremendous weight of trust and responsibility that has been placed upon them. They truly spurn the priceless!
If I could leave aside all worldly pursuits, all hobbies, interests and career aspirations, to spend all my time with children, especially but not only my own, I would do it in a heartbeat. The establishment and development of a unified, caring and well-rounded family is the only truly worthwhile thing in life, and every other activity must ultimately promote that end in order to be worthwhile.
It’s time to recognise our children for who they are, and to treat them accordingly: with respect, patience, love, guidance and nurturance. They don’t belong to us, we are merely their custodians, guardians, mentors, confidants and best friends, none of which role involves superiority or any notion of property. If we truly value them as they intrinsically deserve to be, how can we possibly consider them “inconvenient”?
Selfishness is the very antithesis of parenting.