On Parenting: Raising Children Is Not Child’s Play

Opinion

The first step in solving any problem is recognizing that there is one; I believe parents do not love their children anymore. And by virtue of coming to a conscious realization of this, we can hopefully find ways to love our children as we birth the next generation. A just world requires parents not just raising their children as a responsibility but loving their children

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Many of us confuse love and responsibility and it is, in all honesty, an easy connection to make. Our natural inclination is to feel responsible for those we claim to love and, by extension we assume that being a lover comes with many responsibilities that the lover must fulfil (with respect to the beloved). Our understanding of human history has seen various responsibilities assigned to various expressions of love.

Parenting has the perception of being one of these expressions of love and rightly so. The intensity of being the vessel for the creation of life is a breathtaking experience, there are no words to describe the first time you see your baby. In that moment, the entire universe could crumble around you with nary a concern passing through your mind. Love is precious.

It is also fleeting. As the years go by, many parents see to the responsibility of raising their children, tragically forgetting that a parent and a child are first lovers before anything else. Drowning in the responsibility of provision and security, parents often forget what it means to be a parent. To be a parent is not to be a potter, for a potter moulds in his own image and that is precisely the opposite of what you must do. Moulding your child in your own image means that the precious love you hold in your hands is imbibed with your imperfections, your insecurities, your failures, your dreams and desires. An unpleasant but tragically frequent method of raising children. Left to some, they would much rather raise their children in isolation, away from the influence of the world. An idea that one hopes never takes root in the mind of the public, for it is the interaction with other humans that negates some of the moulding that parents do, it is in these interactions that some children realize themselves.

There is no doubt that parents have intense affection for their children, wanting the best for them, seeking to protect them from the worst, but this does not, necessarily, translate to love. And if you observe the actions of a lot of parents, you realize this. Ordinarily, the distinction would be irrelevant. Intense affection and love are frighteningly similar but in this particular case, the infinitesimal distinction makes a world of difference.

Have you never wondered why, despite the fact that we have been giving birth to and raising children for hundreds of thousands of years, we have not seem to have gotten it quite right? Have you never wondered why every generation does not get ethically better than the last despite having history to call upon? Year after year, generation after generation, we see children come out the same, carrying the same devils that plagued their parents; hate, elitism, bigotry, greed, vanity, gluttony, is evident in the lives and minds of our children.

“Parents are flawed humans just like everyone else” is perhaps a counter that may be made to us. And there is no disputing this; parents are humans, humans are flawed therefore, parents are flawed. But, that cannot be the excuse we fall back on. Love is a conscious decision and acting on that conscious decision makes us better. Because by virtue of practicing love, we become love, never truly hitting perfection but it is the process of refinement that is truly beautiful and if one truly claims to love their child, they will extend this love to that child. Love is a series of selfless decisions for another. And instead of presuming to know what that means, Love demands that we find out how. It is not enough to want what is best for that child, it is not enough to sacrifice for that child. Love is consciously seeking to be the best parent you can possibly be and think that you should work with what you have. What you have is not enough. You are not enough. You must be better to create better. How arrogant it is, to think that by virtue of being a parent, one is qualified to groom a child. In Africa, parents pursue this arrogant view. Not merely seeing themselves as uniquely qualified to raise their children but also assume a Godlike status in their lives.

Two adults, that may not even have an understanding of themselves, now have the immense responsibility of guiding another life thrust upon them. This is why society is the way it is. Imperfect humans, unaware or apathetic about their imperfections are tasked in raising children. And the instruments of society, like schools and other public educational forums, that are supposed to interject were parents fail, exacerbate the situation instead. All the problems of the world originate from this singular point: Parents do not love their children.

I realize that this is a contentious point to make. The audacity of it attacks almost everything we seem to hold dear. How can our parents, our first loves, not love us? Our minds race to proof of love; how much they sacrificed, how much they gave, how they would die for their children. And yet, these claims are not proof of love, they are proof of responsibility. To be sure, in love, there is sacrifice, but to sacrifice does not mean there is love. In today’s world, most parents of the last generation understand that birthing a child means that they are ENTIRELY responsible for the existence of that child and that responsibility never leaves. The responsibilities of a parent towards a child are determined by society, for example, in some areas in Nigeria, female children are not given the same priority as the male because the woman marries into another family while the man carries on the name of his father (Patriarchy has really done a number on our planet), thus it was the responsibility of the parents to prepare the the women for her potential husband by teaching her the things that women do and the same for the man. Patriarchy is a vile system and we will address it another day but it is clear what the responsibilities were. In today’s world, the theme of the responsibilities is the same: educate, secure. Parents see children as extension of themselves and pour and intense amount of affection on their children (in their own unique ways).

This is not to diminish the work that parents have done over the years, far from it. A lot of parents have done well, but they could have been better. And the reason a lot of them were not better is because they did not love us.

Love is sacrifice but it is also understanding, when your child says something you do not agree with, a violent response is not the answer.
Love is sacrifice but is also trusting, trusting in the ability of the child you have equipped to roam the world.
Love is sacrifice but it is also accepting, demonizing your homosexual child is not love.
Love is sacrifice but it is also humble, it is recognizing that wanting what is best for your child is not the same thing as knowing what is best for your child
Love is sacrifice but it is also wise, the one that truly seeks truth and beauty is the one that loves.
Love is sacrifice but it is also a unifying force, the one that truly loves does not teach their child to hate others

Love is many things and sacrifice is merely one of them. A loving parent teaches many things but hate is not one of them. Hatred makes the world insecure and teaching a child to hate is the most despicable thing any parent can do. And yet, you see it all the time, hatred is constantly in the air, a war, a spark away from erupting. And yet we claim that the people that raised us to be this way love us? How? How can you claim to be a product of love if your very essence is revel in the pain of others? How can you claim to love when you can make statements that portray others that live a lifestyle different from yours as less than human , as mentally unstable? This cannot be love and we must reject that notion because we must be better.

The first step in solving any problem is recognizing that there is one; I believe parents do not love their children anymore. And by virtue of coming to a conscious realization of this, we can hopefully find ways to love our children as we birth the next generation. A just world requires parents not just raising their children as a responsibility but loving their children enough to never stop improving themselves as parents. Being a parent is the hardest and most important job on the planet, the least we can do is get it right.

Responses

  1. Sinmi A
    I agree with parts of this and disagree with others as I’m sure the writer would have expected. I believe parents do love their kids, not all parents of course. They may not know how to love them perfectly and be and do all the things they need but they love them. Do they make mistakes which would explain some of the ills we have in society today? Yes they do but I dont think that negates the love they have for their child.

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