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To Be or Not To Be…A Parent

May 7, 2009

[Written on May 28, 2006]

Parenting Puzzle cover_compressedNow, when it comes to the matter of starting a family, which I witness frequently in the lives of my friends and family, I want to bring an important issue to light.  Whether or not I have my own kids (at some point in the future, as I have none now), this is a relevant discussion.  I am guessing that the cost of raising a child [born between 2000-2010, from 0-22 yrs old] here in the Tri-State Area, assuming public school education, is approaching $1 million.  This is financial math that I really want to explore; I am sure the data exists.  At the same time, the same funds applied to a village of starving children in a developing nation in Africa could likely raise 50 of them, while also educating adults on contraception, child-rearing strategies and overall life skills development.  That $1 million could literally build and support a small village for the same period of time. [check on this math too, sure it exists through non-profits, Millenium Development Goals and other NGOs].  Of course, for certain people, wealthy folks like Bill Gates, it doesn’t have to be a choice; you can support your own family while also giving $20 billion in charity to fight AIDS and world hunger.  In my own lifetime, I certainly wish to experience all that I possibly can – in terms of the giving, sharing, and receiving of energy – which may include the joy of raising my own children.

I am not trying to discourage people from having kids, but rather to keep perspective on the bigger picture of our roles and opportunities in the world.  We tend towards narcissism here in America, more so than elsewhere in the world, always thinking about our own situations and needs.

There is so much growth and humility to be gained from the parenting experience, that I myself cannot attest to first hand; only through observation of others.  Think of all the love, knowledge, history and karma that is passed on from generation to generation.  This is truly an irreplaceable opportunity and experience in and of itself.  The discipline, emotional vulnerability and level of responsibility required to raise kids properly seems unlike any other life experience.  Granted, not every parent embraces those attitudes and responsibilities, and the results are apparent – in terms of emotional trauma for children – when they don’t.

Nonetheless, other equally inspiring opportunities to contribute to the world and share our love exist.  Educating, spending time with and helping kids is the job of teachers, counselors and coaches around the world, just as much as it is of parents.  I acknowledge how other adults in my own life influenced me as much as my own parents did.  Giving this type of support, for one who has the financial and/or human-emotional capital to do so, can be a good surrogate or stepping stone towards supporting one’s own family.

How about being our own parent?  Perhaps, we can invest that same love and energy inward, to heal our own wounds from childhood, and all that our parents did not give us?  To what extent does having our own children before we are fully healed prevent us from giving ourselves what we need to be whole?  For some, I image that the parenting experience is a transcendent one, which brings them face to face with their own insecurities, and gives them the courage to visit deeply repressed emotions from childhood.

Whichever road you chose, do so as consciously as possible.  Remove the ego from the equation, as much as possible, and recognize that there are many ways to give.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 10, 2009 2:00 am

    Very thought provoking Arman! I appreciate the romantic optimism.

    You are right though. Becoming a parent is by far the most expensive event of your life, far surpassing buying a home or a business. The financial investment is measurable in dollars and sense, however, the investment of time and emotions is by far one of the biggest gambles.

    Once you become a parent, your “parent-ness” becomes you. Its like loosing virginity. Once you cross over to the other side, you cannot go back to your old self. You become different yet you are the same person.

    Becoming a parent is very similar. Its like pretty much overnight the excuse of your imperfectness, your existential human self that has been wandering this planet accumulating experiences and knowledge and wisdom, must now materialize. You better grow up! You must now be able to sum up and answer, you must be able to explain, you must provide, you must nurture, you must protect, you must foster, you must lead by example. You must synchronize your actions with your words. You must do what you say and say what you do. Because once you become a parent… there is no going back.

    Most of us think about the procreation in terms of whether or not we want any kids. Well we all want kids. (Or at least most of us do). Kids are so cute and innocent who doesn’t want them, right? But how many of us want to “become” parents? Sounds kinda heavy doesn’t it? Its a scary thought for many. What am i going to be like as a parent? Am I going to live up to the standards of my own parents? Am i going to be imperfect like my own parents? How on earth am i going to explain the world and all its contradictions to my children? What if I am failure as a parent? For many of us it entails to0 much risk to jump ships.

    So how about being our own parents, you ask? My answer to this is very simple. Unless you actually learn to be your own parent… meaning that you learn to provide, protect and survive on your own…. you really are not ready to parent any one else! To me, being your own parent is the epitome of “growing up” which is a stepping stone to the survival mechanism needed to nurture, provide and protect another human being.

    • May 10, 2009 2:57 am

      Well, as a mother, you are more of an authority than I am on parenting – so I appreciate your insights and am taking good notes! I wonder though, what percentage of new parents have actually learned how to become their own parents? And to the degree that they have not become their own parents, how does having children generally assist or divert them from doing so? We often see parents who resent their kids at some point, be it apparent, subtle or completely subconscious, and feel that their children “owe them something” for what they have sacrificed to raise them. Parents living vicariously through their kids or seeking to influence the decision-making of their children after a reasonable age of maturity, in my view, fall under this category.

  2. May 10, 2009 9:22 pm

    On this note, Happy Mother’s Day to all of you moms out there!

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