As I have alluded to in previous discussions, I believe good parenting can be based on core premises. In this message, I would like to discuss one of my most basic. Let’s not wait any longer:
The core aim or goal of parenting is to allow for and nurture the development of a happy human being.
Some might have a child to provide them with love that they never had as a child themselves. Some might have one because they are lonely, and hope a child will provide them with attention, and a focus for attention. Some want to raise a child to become what they were unable to become themselves. Some want an image of themselves and their beliefs to continue on after they are gone. Some want an heir to their own legacy, to keep their memory alive. Some want a child or children to provide for them in their old age. Some might have a child out of biological compulsion. Some might because they feel social pressure to do so, from parents, friends, or religious beliefs. Some have a child because they want to force a man (or woman) to stay with them. Some are forced to have children because of rape, or experimentation with sex that has gone awry, and they are unable to terminate the pregnancy.
People have children for all of the above reasons, and likely many more. However, I would like you to consider the possibility that parenting is a kind of sacred trust. Here we have brought into existence (or taken responsibility for, in the case of foster or adoptive parents and caregivers) a human being, totally dependent on us, who has consciousness, feelings, and psyche capable of encompassing the universe just as we do and potentially even more broadly, or in different ways than ourselves. It is up to us to nurture those capabilities, and allow the nascent person within the child to develop to its full potential. This is a large part of what I think it means to be “happy”, both as a child and as a parent.
This is not to say that having a child is without benefit to the parent. Actually, the experiencing of the wonder of existence which the child can share with his or her parent is priceless, and can re-awaken lost passion for growth and exploration in the parent who is as ready to learn from the child as they are to teach them. Additionally, powers of empathic attunement and intuition can be greatly enhanced. Ultimately, however, having a child is equal parts sacrifice and blessing, and the one always goes with the other as in every other facet of life.
Raising a child well is a complex balancing act, but having the goal firmly in mind gives a sense of direction when things “get crazy”. Even if we have gone astray in the past, we can make great strides if we can put the past behind us and move forward with the goal of fostering the development of a happy person. I hope you will consider it.