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Isn't it pretty?

Monday, May 02, 2005

Parenting

I have been thinking a lot lately about parenting. Obviously, this is not something that I have any kind of first-hand experience with, but I do hope to someday, and it is something that I think should be taken very seriously. For a while, I was having a hard time with the idea of ever having children. The thought of it was just overwhelming. I kept telling myself that the thought was overwhelming because I am not currently in the position to be able to support children - I work full-time and go to school, support myself completely. It would be incredibly difficult to work taking care of a child into that mix, especially without the help of a spouse. Because I am not in a situation that fosters having children, I was having a hard time even imagining being in one. And it made me scared to even think about having children, in contrast to many of my friends who can't wait to have babies. But over the past couple months, a few of my friends have had new babies that I have just fallen in love with. And then I spent a lot of Pesach playing with the grandchildren of a family I am close with, and absolutely enjoyed every minute of it. Suddenly, I could once again see myself as a mother, could see myself nurturing a child. And suddenly I was looking forward to someday having children (obviously when other circumstances work themselves out). But then I keep getting incredibly frustrated with my parents, who don't even realize what damage they do a lot of the time. And I was listening to someone else talk about some of their problems with their parents. And I realized, there are a lot of BAD parents out there. Now, I know they didn't realize they would be bad parents when they had children, or maybe they weren't thinking that much about it at all. But a lot of people really do a lot of harm to their children - for many different reasons. So why should everyone have the opportunity to screw up their offspring? I wonder about the commandment for every man to have children - should they really? If a person is selfish, or immature, or completely irresponsible - should they really have kids who will then bear the brunt of their parent's shortcomings? And how does one know if they will be a good parent or not? It is such a complicated subject, I certainly don't have many answers. But I wonder about it a lot, why people have to have a license to go fishing but can bring a new human life into the world without any kind of permission from anyone (not that I have any idea who should do the granting of permission, that seems a scary topic that I wouldn't even want to start into). I will say that I have witnessed many wonderful families, who I really believe are teaching their children to be good people, and to care about those around them, so not all parenting goes awry. So, now I am stuck between knowing how to balance all the harm you can do to your children, and the good you can do to them. And how do you know beforehand which way it will go? It is a scary prospect.

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