I believe that this generation of parents are scared to death about being terrible parents. This issue has prevented many of the people I know well from even putting themselves in a position to have babies in the first place. I can see why, just ask the people that you know whether they want to turn into their parents and a large percentage of the responses you hear will be a big fat ‘NO!’. Many of my friends in their mid to late 30s haven’t even seriously entertained the notion of creating another human life.
The real question is- why is it so scary to do the very thing we were built to do? Everything in our body’s design is perfect for generating new life. It’s not a physical issue (for most people). Then what is it? Where is this fear coming from?
I hear a lot of different variations on the same theme- “I’m not ready because…”
- I’m too poor
- I need to travel
- I want my career to be just right before I jump
- Don’t think I would be a good parent
Etc times infinity.
Let me please clarify that I am not saying everybody needs to have babies right now because that would be a disaster. Some people genuinely do need to work on themselves before being really able handle another human’s needs- but most people seem to be scared for no real reason at all.
I learned from experience that the fear mongering surrounding child rearing is no more than a stupid, smelly lie.
I ended up having a child before most of my friends even though I was already 33 at the time. I didn’t feel ready, I didn’t feel qualified, and I was almost sure that somehow parenting was beyond my skill set (since I didn’t yet get my certification from some imaginary organization that everyone assume exists). Not only that, but it seemed as though the more research I did, the more I learned that I didn’t know so much information that I apparently was supposed to know.
There are the seemingly a slew of gurus who have the absolute authority on which stroller to buy, how to raise your kids, which foods to eat and to avoid, and even which way to excrete the baby from my wife’s body. Each of these experts seemed to both make a good case for themselves and contradict one another simultaneously.
If I wasn’t already intimidated by the notion of having a child, actually having a baby on the way was freaking me out because there are no refunds, no turning back, nowhere to hide! Each day leading up to the inevitable D-Day (delivery day) was like taking another step closer to jumping off of the highest cliff imaginable. At the bottom of the cliff was of course a bunch of cactuses and alligators to ensure that I would not survive the fall.
And guess what, guess how terrible the experience was? I dare you to guess how traumatic parenting has been, how many times I’ve tried to quit my job as a dad…NONE.
The answer is I’ve never been happier in my entire life. I don’t have a lot of money as I would if I were single, DOESN’T MATTER. I don’t have a ton of spare time these days, DOESN’T MATTER. I occasionally want to punch a wall when my son is challenging me (I would never hurt a wall fyi), DOESN’T MATTER. What I lack in those areas, I always gain in spades with joy that cannot be found anywhere else other then in the presence of my child.
The greatest part about being a parent is learning how natural and organic it actually is. A wise person once told me that you have no idea who you actually are until you are responsible for the lives of other human beings, that is what you are actually made of. We can all believe we are ‘good’ people, but you get to see your true nature when the pressure is on. Having a child only compounds the pressure because you have to let go of your perception of who you are in order to make room to become the person you need to be to REALLY be there for your family.
Discovering who you are when sleep is scarce is important. Developing the skills to truly care for other people even more than yourself is the most rewarding investment you can ever make.
One of the biggest clichés out there is:
You can never know what it is like to be a parent until you try.
I can attest to the fact that there is nothing greater than being a parent and there is no greater lie than the one which claims that being a parent is beyond our capacity.
With my second now on the way I have experienced some similar feelings of being inadequate or ill-equipped, but I am much more armed with The truth that everything will be just fine.