Why Bring Children Into Such A World? On Hope, Love, and Parenting.

What motivates someone to bring kids into a “horrible and hopeless world?” Seattle Dad is glad you asked.

Publisher’s Note: When The Good Men Project first started, we set out to “spark an international conversation about what it means to be a good man.” We didn’t really know how we would do that. There were no protocols for deep, engaging, structured conversations about a specific topic — conversations that the whole world is invited to. For a while The Good Men Project looked exactly like most other online magazine — well-written and well edited articles by men, about men, for men. But we keep coming back to the idea that this is more than a magazine. Better than a magazine. It’s a multi-platform, multi-media conversation. 

And we now know what that conversation looks like. Someone on the Good Men Project staff can write an article, seen by someone 2 time zones away. A conversation unfolds on Twitter. Questions are asked. Someone else writes a second post. It gets published on a blog. We see the blog and republish the blog here. We hope this will prompt more people to talk, more people to tell their story. 

A worldwide conversation has emerged. Here, it’s on parenting. 

This post originally appeared on Seattle Dad’s blog “Luke, I am Your Father.

♦◊♦

A couple of days ago while on Twitter, I passed along a link to a post by Robert Duffer ( @RobertDuffer ) over at The Good Men Project titled ‘What They Don’t Know: The Dad Movement Has Never Been Stronger‘. The post seeks to call attention to the fact that despite the perception in the mainstream media that this is a down year for dads, there is much evidence to the contrary. This includes pointing out the positive presence that Dad’s have on the internet, including the work of many very involved Dad Bloggers. Kudos to Duffer for pointing this out, and I suggest you read the article and visit many of the multitude of links he provides referencing the involvement of today’s fathers.

But that article is not actually the focus of this post. It’s the response I received on Twitter after passing the link along.  Here it is:

I was a little surprised by this tweet. I’m not really sure I understand your perspective @PivotalDude — I’m not sure whether you have kids or not, or if you are just trying to look for reasons someone would want to be a parent in today’s society. That you mention you are not being snide indicates that this was a serious question. The more I thought about it the more I wanted to respond in more than 140 characters. I’ll try here.

To the first part of the question, what motivates me to bring kids into the world, I actually posted — or possibly tweeted — about this in the past. I didn’t become a parent until I was nearly 40 and before then, honestly, I was ambivalent about kids. I had no burning desire to be a parent, although I knew once it happened that I would be good at it and love my kids. Like a lot of people I also asked myself those existential questions ‘Why am I here?’  and ‘What IS the purpose of all this?’.
Amazingly though, once Lukas was born 5 years ago, those questions became crystal clear to me. THIS is why I am here. To raise kids and to carry on, in my own minuscule way, our species. It may sound like a platitude, but it’s not. I really feel this way. Plus, as parents Mrs. LIAYF and I are not solely motivated to bring kids into the world. We know there are so many kids out there already in need of a loving home. As my regular readers already know, after having our biological child my lovely wife  and I recently also adopted our daughter.
As for the part about this being a horrible world, I don’t agree. Obviously, there are many horrible things going on in the world, and much suffering. Unfortunately, there always has been and although we should continue to strive to eliminate as much suffering as possible, there always will be. While many deliberate acts make me question the humanity of the parties involved, I still see most people as inherently good.
From my perspective, and if you were to ask my kids — although one can’t talk and you would have to time it just right so that you ask the other when he is pausing to take a breath — they would probably tell you the same thing. We are a family who is blessed to live in the age we do, with the technology, medical advancements, and access to healthy food, and warm shelter from the harshness of the outside world. I know how lucky we are compared to so many others but as citizens of the ‘first world’ we have seen so much suffering of the past eliminated.
I could give a million examples of the advancements and also comforts we have today as opposed to the past, but of course I don’t need to. I will, however, say that our daughter spent 6 weeks in the hospital after her birth. A hundred years ago, or even 50 she probably would not have had the opportunity to do so. Personally, I think the world is far from horrible.
Finally, the idea that the world is ‘hopeless’ doesn’t register with me either. As a father I see an abundance of hope in it each and every day. I see hope when I witness the smiles Lukas nearly always brings to those he interacts with. I see hope when I watch as he runs over to another child who is alone and crying to ask if they are hurt or lost, all the while patting them on the back and telling them “It will be okay”.  I see hope when my 2 month old daughter Annabelle looks into my eyes and grips my finger with her tiny little hand before letting out a smile. I see hope when my son designs complex and interesting spaceships from spare Lego parts and talks of being the fist person on Mars.
Of course I’m not the only parent who sees this kind of hope in their children. In fact, I would expect that most parents look at their children and see an abundance of hope. Parents the world over. That being the case, the world is far from hopeless. Conversely, I would say it is filled with hope. The hope that our kids will leave the world a better place than they found it.
Before I had kids I pondered those same sorts of questions. Is it fair to bring kids into a world filled with so much grief? But today those kinds of questions seem laughable to me. Our children deserve the chance, just like we had, to make their mark on the world.  To make it a little, or a lot, less hopeless and horrible.
And as parents we get to enjoy watching it happen. These are the things, @PivotalDude,which motivate me to raise kids in today’s complex world.
Please leave your own thoughts here in the comment section, or see some of the interesting responses on the original post at Seattle Dad’s blog.
 –
photo: jondejong / Flickr
Sponsored Content

Premium Membership, The Good Men Project

About James Austin

James Austin (SeattleDad) is the author of the Dad Blog 'Luke, I am Your Father', (http://liayf.blogspot.com) which turned 5 this month.  When not spending his free time with his wife Mrs. LIAYF, 5-year-old son Lukas, and 3-month-old daughter Annabelle in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, James works full time outside the home. He is also currently conducting an important study focusing on the long term effects of sleep deprivatation on new fathers over 40. Results will be published on his blog.

Comments

  1. I appreciate your sentiments James. I saw some similiar “this world is too evil to have children” rants on FB following Newtown. In my opinion children are the trump card this world holds to evolving to something better. My five year old is FAR MORE advanced than I was at his age (and I’m not saying that boastfully); I’m constantly in awe of how he breaks down the world and synthesizes the experience.
    I wish you the best as you navigate your children through the spring of their lives; we parents need as much support as we can get. :0)

    • Thanks, we sure can. And I have a 5 year old who does the same. It’s an amazing thing to watch, and impossible not to take away from it the sense that he will make a positive mark on this world.

  2. Children restore in us the wonder needed to care for our world. Other things inspire wonder, but none so consistently as the eyes of a child.

    • It’s sad to see people who have lost this sense of wonder. As I tried to convey, this is almost impossible as a parent. After all, we get to see it first hand on a daily basis.

  3. I agree most people in this world are good but for the % who are not , particularly in my advocacy which is the sexual abuse prevention of children, we have a duty of care, as parents ,to educate our kids in all areas of safety and that includes ‘body safety’. Sadly, many parents I encounter are so delighted with their children (and rightly so) they turn the other way when it comes to body safety. Sorry to turn the conversation around but for some kids it is not all laughter, light and wonder.

  4. Agreed. Things have gotten better every year, but ease communication and our increased ability to change the world, makes the world seem more and more in need of changing.

    Thanks for the positivity.

    -M

  5. I think it is barbaric to bring kids into this world. This is a slaughterhouse, not a decent place.

Speak Your Mind

*