Thursday, February 26, 2015

Day 75: The Desire for Picture-Perfect Family & The Rise of Children as Accessories

A point I have mentioned several times on this blog, is how little gets shared of the ‘real story’ behind having a family/having a child or children.

Throughout my whole life, no-one every shared with me the true nature or the ‘raw deal’ of what is actually involved in having a family of your own and the challenges you face. At the same time, in how the world is moving – the true nature of parenting is getting forgotten as we all have been led to belief that life is about working and consuming. This means that being a parent and raising your own child isn’t a “thing” anymore, as we spend the majority of the time working while someone else looks after the children (whether a nanny or at school – schools end up being convenient day-care centres).

We are also not trained our taught to value and appreciate parenting, what is involved in child care, the challenges one will face, the sacrifices that need to be made. For many, there is this ‘idea’ of parenting and the ‘idea’ of having a family of one’s own. A picture created in your mind that makes you feel happy thinking of ‘what could be’. Then, a child becomes a reality and your whole world comes crashing down as you have no practical tools whatsoever to direct yourself, so let alone direct a child. With society and the entertainment industry bombarding us with the ‘Me-Me-Me’-ideology – where everything is about what YOU WANT and YOUR FREEDOM; it’s easy to just ‘give up’ on actual parenting and instead embrace the Me-Me ideology where you get to do what you want while having your children ‘in check’ whilst allowing them to play out their own Me-Me-Me-Ideology..

This is something I have been observing more and more, where an idea was created about ‘what it is like to have a family’ and then one it becomes a reality – it all just becomes about ‘managing’ it, about surviving it and waiting for ‘things to get better’.

When we think of having a family of our own, we think of the happy moments, the moments you share a laugh, baby’s first steps, birthdays, baby saying ‘mommy’ and all the other events that are interpreted to signify ‘love’. These moments as images however, are fleeting moments. They happen once in a while and then it’s over. So what about the rest of the time? The rest is spent supervising, cleaning, playing, participating and directing your child. I’m not saying that it’s not ‘fun’ – but it is nothing like the nice energetic feeling that gets brought up when we *think* about having a child/baby of our own. The main point is that you need to be available to your child in every moment. It takes focus, discipline, assertiveness, gentleness, understanding and everlasting patience to do this effectively. These words, are not easy to live – they do not come natural to most and are not values which are taught and transferred effectively in this day and age. Every day, every moment you need to force yourself, your beingness to change and move in a way that supports your child, even though it completely clashes with the life you used to have or the preferences you hold. Parenting is a full time job – and with fulltime I don’t mean from 9 to 5 – I literally mean *full time* as in the full 24 hours (ok, maybe you will get a few hours of sleep ;-)). So to every day face and walk something that goes against every grain of your being as the nature of self-interest – it can be quite daunting. Also consider that: there are no take-backs lol. Once you have a child, you have a child and this other person will be intrinsically interconnected and interwoven in your daily life for the next 18 years. That’s a huge commitment.

Not many manage to find it within themselves to completely dedicate themselves to their children and nurturing them to their utmost potential. Instead, babies and children become accessories. Much like having a pet – where people get a pet like a dog because they like the idea of it – but then end up spending minimal time with the dog in a way that supports the dog’s living experience, and become ‘just another chore’ that needs to be taken care of.

The child or children need to fit in to their schedule. They need to behave in a way that I like. They need to pursue things in life that I approve of, that fits with how I want to be perceived, that will add to my status. They will take credit when the child receives a compliment, but blame the child when negative feedback is received.

Children don’t fit into little boxes however, and tend to retaliate and throw tantrums to express their discontent. This then only feeds more fuel to the fire, where the parents will try and fit them into boxes of rules and conditions even more – and use this ‘despicable behaviour’ as an excuse as to why they need a break from their children, and why they deserve time for themselves and the things they like. Then it’s even more okay to hire a full-time caretaker, send them to boarding school, and immerse yourself into work and/or your social life.

This in turn, creates a pressure on the child as the child is experiencing a lack of freedom, a lack in the ability to express themselves which then overtime turns into an obsession and compulsion of ‘doing what I want’ – turning out just like the parents.

So while you may want a child or family with the best intentions, with having the ‘perfect family moments’ at heart – you end up with a deeply unsatisfied life and children who can’t wait to get away from their parents.

Having a child and starting a family is a serious consideration and not a decision to be made on a whim. Spend some time with families, talk to parents, spend time with children and see if this is something you truly want – or see yourself being able to change into wanting and living it. Having a child is a decision that affects a lifetime – not only yours, but also that of your child.

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