Why Did I Become a Parent?

In this day and age where people are more often considering the idea of having children a choice, I thought it may be of interest as to why I (we) chose to have kids.

Now, I’d say we all grew up in a society where having kids is considered or at least expected to be part of the natural progression of life. And I can’t say that my experience was any different. Though I can say that I never felt any pressure from my parents toward having kids. I don’t think they even mentioned anything about us being engaged for over five years. But they’re cool like that. That said I could still say that it still felt like some unwritten code that people get married, have kids, retire, wear Depends, and die. So in that sense it felt like an opt-out clause to not have kids as opposed to being an opt-in clause to have them.

Although I don’t try to psycho-analyze myself too much, I think September 11th had something to do with my openness to finally having kids. Regardless, there were other reasons. Mainly, I felt it was my duty to pass along my knowledge to another generation. I was very fortunate to have very good parents who I feel have a huge part in the person I have become. Even as a kid I thought about that I would pass along what I have learned from them to my kids. Our parents (my sister and I) did many things to expand our minds like frequent trips to museums, regular viewing of PBS programs, and road trips to the Rocky Mountains, the Audubon Convention, the Knoxville Worlds Fair, Washington & Boston for US History, or other locations around the Midwest. I had a fortunate childhood and it would seem a shame not to pass it on.

The irony of the idea of me having kids is that I was not good with kids. When I was a kid, I usually felt more comfortable with grown-ups. And I was not someone who would go ogle at someone’s baby when they came around. Plus other than a few times babysitting relative, I had no experience watching kids.

So like many people I had on the job training. And really to this day that continues. Because really I don’t have training in child care or discipline. But I do what I can with what I know and what feels right.

The thing that I enjoy the most is what was my intention from the start. To see them absorb the knowledge and understanding of the world around us quite like I did at that age.

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~ by Frank on June 21, 2009.

5 Responses to “Why Did I Become a Parent?”

  1. Great blog Frank thanks for sharing. Coming from someone who had always wanted to have a large family (I’m talkin’ 5-6 kids—I know..YIPES!), I am becoming more and more content with having the three that I have. I don’t know what spurred the feelings in me to have such a large family–probably from being around so many extended relatives within one city block. And I loved playing with little kids. I still remember babysitting Lynaire when she was baby. It is hard work to be a good parent and manage a career and a household. I don’t know how large families can do it, but kudos to them!

    As for your earlier experience vs. your “on the job” training, I think that all parents go through “on the job” training because no matter if you babysat for 20 years, or held 100 babies before having your own, each child is different. I think that you and Nathalie are doing a great job with the girls, and if you do as well as how your parents raised you both, they are going to be just fine.

    I think that there are even more levels of choosing parenthood that can be further analyzed–like why does one choose to adopt, or be a foster parent (which can also lead to adoption). But regardless of how you become a parent, the rewards are the same–as you see the awe in their eyes as they observe the world or when you hear the most curious (and cute) questions come out of their mouths–it is a great feeling. I know that there will be more challenges as they get older, but for now, I am enjoying them as much as I can.

  2. I intend to pass along my knowledge to those that already exist and matter to me. That said, I did feel a reason to have children.

    Old age.

    With what I have been through over the last two years, I feel that I have had a sneak preview of what will likely be awaiting us, and it isn’t pretty. The only thing that got me through it was that I knew that I would be getting better eventually. But the 88-year-olds that I see know that isn’t true for them.

    It really matters to have someone taking care of you when you are infirm, even if all they can do is hold your hand, or talk to you gently. But I suppose the problem is that people get busy with their own lives, and they move away, and, and, and…I guess it’s too risky an investment for someone like me.

    But I suppose I may have given myself justification for marriage…

  3. I would like to opt-out of needing to wear depends before dying. Really. Can I opt-out of that?

    Like you, I never felt any pressure to have kids. And honestly, until about a couple of years before we had L, I wasn’t sure if it was in my cards or not. It just eventually seemed to be like ‘ok, I think we should have a kid now’. And so we did. It just felt like something that was meant to be, more than a rational decision.

    That being said, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I wasn’t looking forward to share knowledge & experiences like you describe. And I’d also be lying if I said I didn’t consider what Alston talks about. I don’t want to die alone. Without my kid(s). Granted, I can’t guarantee that. But chances are… I also have to admit that the thought of my demise/death also makes me consider a sibling for L. Because, after we’re gone, who will he have? Hopefully a significant other, and really good friends, but you never know. Or worse, if we go through difficult, prolonged medical circumstances, a brother or sister can really help you feel like your not alone, and also understand exactly what you’re going through.

    Well, to end on a positive note, I must admit that I did not know that being a parent meant that I would wake up happy, really happy, every day. I really didn’t expect that. Talk to me again when he’s a teenager. But for now, really happy!

  4. Ooops. Make that ‘you’re not alone’. Argh.

  5. Thanks, Eric. I would say that experience with children and a desire to interact with them given a choice is quite different between you and I. It always seemed natural that you would have kids and be a great father to them (no pressure). I agree that each kid presents different challenges. Each of our girls is almost the polar opposite of the other when you take away the habits (good & bad) that they’ve inherited from us.

    Alston, while I agree that passage of knowledge of the world can be done through mentoring & teaching, there is something to be said about being witness and having a direct hand in the overall development of a person. It’s a bit egotistical (? I can’t find the right word) to think about it like that, but it’s true that you are their guide into the world.

    Regarding them supporting me in old age, I can’t say I’ve ever thought or expected that to be the case. I know again that I’m being a bit naive to think that I will take care of myself despite what the future holds. The kids supporting me in old age is one of numerous paths that life could possibly take me. It’s a common one, but not the only one.

    milliner: But think of the positive aspects of Depends. You’re at the end of a film at the theatre and you’ve finished a bucket of soda during the film. They could come in handy then.

    Our older child is finishing kindergarten so she’s getting a taste for many subjects like science, nature, art, and even sports. It’s a lot of fun. There may be a downtime when they are teenagers, but they’ll likely be interested in your wisdom when they reach adulthood. At least I was.

    I also just remembered that another reason we felt we had to make a decision about kids around the time of September 11th was that we realized that the biological clock was ticking so it was now or never.

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