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An Essay On Parenting By A Guy Who Is Not A Parent (let the arrows fly) by Sal Moriarty

One of the nice things God does, is he does not let people who don't have kids, know what they're missing. (Warren Beatty, who became a parent fairly late in life, talking to Jerry Seinfeld before he had children.)

There's an idea I keep encountering, which asserts certain endeavors are appropriate for everyone. I hear it a lot now days concerning psychedelics. There is evidence they can be helpful in treating depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder in some people. I am no expert, but it seems reasonable there could be benefits for some in such treatments. By the same token, thinking such a strategy would be beneficial to everyone is, well, simple minded. Ever hear of a bad trip? They're real.

My thoughts move along the same lines when it comes to having children.

I was watching an interview not long ago with a billionaire entrepreneur. Evidently, he is something of a celebrity. I'd never heard of him. He was asked if he had children. He said something along the lines of, absolutely, it's the only reason we exist. I won't bother to list the names of those throughout history, childless, who contributed mightily to humankind. If you're a Christian, there are a few in the Bible you might have heard of (especially in the New Testament).

Seems to me, many people, because it's something they're supposed to do, give less thought to procreation than they do to acquiring a dog, and that's not hyperbole. I only have to experience daily life for this to ring true. Clearly, there are many on this planet creating new humans who have no business whatsoever doing so. Hey, either parenting is important, or it is not; if it is, good parenting is invaluable; bad parenting, destructive.

I am not a parent, but I was a child. From that perspective, and living for decades on the planet, I believe there are certain attributes central to successfully cultivating new human life. Selflessness tops the list.

Financial stability is important, but how many are financially stable at, say, twenty-one? Based on my observations, a nurturing home life with two parents seems important to raising a child. That said, financially struggling single parents have produced some of our most impressive citizens. Grandparents, now days, often raise their children's children. That's depressing, but it has been demonstrated time and again, it can be done with amazing results.

So, why can some single parents, with few resources, and some grandparents, who should be enjoying their “golden” years, do such extraordinary jobs raising children? I'll bet you a big RC Cola (as my dad used to say) it's because they are selfless. The selfish should not be having children, and we live in selfish times. Do the math. I believe many of the problems the world faces make a lot more sense when acknowledging there are a ton of folks out there who had rotten parents. That, paired with the specific challenges our modern age presents, are a brutal combination, and on view daily in America.

When I was in grade school, there was a girl who was kind of my girlfriend (insofar as you can have a girlfriend in grade school). One day we were on the playground and her mother showed up. My companion had forgotten her lunch that morning. The mother handed her a brown paper bag, scowled, and called her stupid. As the mother walked away, my friend said, “I hate that _________ ______.” I was flabbergasted. I had no idea there were kids who felt that way about their parents (which gives you some indication as to how I was raised).

I know too many people who thought the idea of having a baby was cool but, over time, simply lost interest. How do I know? They told me. I know just as many who came upon parenthood unexpectedly and, unfortunately, that selfless gene just never kicked in. Some parents want to be buddies to their offspring. I had plenty of buddies growing up. I needed parents, and that's what I got.

So, back to Warren Beatty's quote about having children. I have little doubt the quote is accurate. I'm sure raising children provides spectacularly fulfilling episodes; but that's no reason to have a child. If done well, it is obviously difficult and frustrating work. For me, if one is unwilling to acknowledge their wants do not matter anymore, their employment is only important inasmuch as it provides for what they, voluntarily, created, then skip it altogether. Going to church, or not, only matters if it teaches important values to their young. Having children could mean dreams of becoming an astronaut, or Elvis, are dead. The bed was made, perhaps literally in this case, and a good parent has to lie in it.

I've caught a lot of flak in my life for this point of view. In my twenties, when I balked at having children, I was sometimes called out rather aggressively on the matter (to say the least). That said, I stand by the assertion many on this planet should not be parents. Every time I hear words like baby-mamma and baby-daddy, I am convinced further.


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