Parenthood: the Best Road to Maturity

by admin

They say that you don’t really grow up until you have kids.  That may not be true in every case, but so far in this life, the most immature people I have met have been without children, and the most mature people I have met have been parents.

Why is this?  I don’t think it’s a mystery: selfish people are inherently unattractive.  People, in general, don’t like self-absorbed, me-first people.  The definition of maturity is the ability to both think and act in the interests of others, and to look beyond immediate benefits to yourself to the benefits of others as motivation for action.  (It’s not a perfect definition, feel free to correct me, but I think it hits most of what maturity is.)

Little handHow do you get it?  Well, something, sometime, somewhere, needs to intrude on your own me-first orientation to the point where you want something for someone besides yourself.

In short, you need to love someone.

Human beings are capable of having sex, but for obvious reasons, sex can be had for intensely selfish reasons, without any pretense of love.  But something mysterious happens when a child is born from you.  Many men manage to avoid this something mysterious, by denying paternity, or by simply absenting themselves from proximity to the woman who will bear the child.  Few women, however, manage to avoid this strange, unexplainable connection to the live they bring into the world.  It is pure.  It is innocent.  It is undeserved.  This thing has done nothing to deserve love.  In fact, for the next oh, about 12 months after it is born, this creature will be the most selfish, self-absorbed, unfeeling parasite on their parents’ lives ever to exist.  But that inexplicable feeling occurs nonetheless.

And it persists.  Parents will love their children forever, despite this.  At some point, that love gets modelled to their children, and those children in turn will pass it on to their children, and so on.  But for some reason, this love never truly blooms fully until a person becomes a parent.

You can love someone and not be a parent.  But nobody you love outside of parenthood will abuse you, use you, and take over your life to the level that children do.  Nobody will have permission to spend your money, time, youth, and energy for their own sole benefit like your children.  Parenthood taxes you.  It beats you down.  It drains you.  It stretches you to your emotional and physical limits.  But NOTHING else teaches you maturity like it.  Nothing.

A parent must.  They simply MUST love their child.  Or that child will literally die.

They must take joy in their child. Or the parent will abandon the enterprise of parenting.

I was working on my laptop...

I was working on my laptop…

They must find peace in parenthood.  If you can find peace amidst the chaos of screaming, pooping, throwing, barfing, smashing, running, jumping, singing, babbling, whirlwinds of growth, then you can find peace anywhere, anytime.

They must be patient with their child, like they have never been patient before.  Think about it: the longest you do ANYTHING in your life up to about the age of 30 is the 12 years of school you complete to graduate.  But the first few years are really so new and interesting that it takes at least until Grade 4 to really begin to hate it.  By then you only have 8 years left, and that’s not so long to wait.  On the other hand, you have a child, and you WILL be parenting, 24/7 for the next minimum 16 years.  If that doesn’t teach patience, I don’t know what does.

They must be kind.  I fail at this all the time, but my children really do respond to kindness unlike any other form of interaction.  It must be practiced, and practiced.  I actually feel bad for my older kids, because I didn’t have much kindness with them, while I find I am a lot kinder to their younger siblings.

They must be good.  Why does anyone have to be good to anyone?  You can be a noisome prick to the world, but you can’t to your kids.  It is in this area that goodness must be practiced, or you will one day lose your children.  They will either have had enough of you, or they will be taken from you.

They must be faithful.  Science has already demonstrated that one of the biggest contributors to children’s success as adults is stability.  Your choices as a parent to be faithful to them, to always be there, to be faithful to your spouse, demonstrating what it means to stand by promises, to be faithful to your job, your community, these things all contribute.  Not only that but YOU will be much better off for demonstrating faithfulness to all these things.

They must be gentle.  Oh, this one is so hard for fathers, and even harder for fathers to do with boys, because we are by nature rough and tumble.  But young boys need a gentle hand and will flourish when shown that there are other ways than simply brute-forcing your way through life.

They must be self-controlled.  Parents must learn to set aside their needs at times for the good of their children.  Many people I have met put off parenthood for this reason, but I would argue the reverse is true: if you put off parenthood because you don’t want to be self-controlled, then you are building habits that will not break when you do finally “get around” to parenting.  Having children younger means you have had less time to get into ruts, and are more flexible to adjust your life to them and their needs.  And the earlier human beings learn self-control the better – for everyone!  Nobody ever suffered in life for being self-controlled, yet in our society today nothing is more anathema.  It is one of the strangest dichotomies of the 21st Century.

A little slice of heaven...In case you haven’t noticed, I did in fact use Galatians 5 as a template for maturity.  I don’t particularly care if you are a Christian or not: I defy you to point out for me how these 8 descriptors fall short of describing the mature human being.  I dream of living in a world populated by the mature.  That would truly be…

A little slice of heaven…

Heaven.

photo credit: Chemophilic via photopin cc


Comments are closed.

Top
Theme by Selim Alvele | Copyright 2017 Fathering From Home | Powered by WordPress | 34 queries in 0.329 seconds.