The Independent recently published perhaps one of the dumber articles of the century, and there’s been a lot of competition recently. The article was entitled: The worst decision you can ever make is to have a child, according to science.
So, let us hear about this “science,” shall we? Apparently, “science” is now public opinion surveys, because the first “proof” offered that having children are so bad for you is a survey of married couples. According to this survey, 70% of couples experiences a “significant slump” in their marriage after having children.
AHA…smoking gun…children are bad for you, terrible decision, worst choice EVER! The problem is there is no further data points cited from that survey. For instance, if you dig into the study they are citing, you’ll notice something profound. While two-thirds of couples experience a “slump” in their marriage after their first child is born, those who went through the workshop (i.e. had a stable source of wisdom, advice and guidance) saw drastically less depression, turmoil and conflict in their marriage.
Furthermore, while a child might bring added opportunity for conflict in a marriage, thus leading to dissatisfaction in the marriage, it doesn’t mean that there is always dissatisfaction in the marriage or that if there is it cannot be addressed through wise counsel! The Independent simply demonstrates sloppy journalism, by citing that 70% of couples experience a “slump” in their marriage, but it offers no further insight into the fact that one-third didn’t experience a “slump,” and that those who did experience a “slump” were greatly aided by some simple, common sense advise.
The Independent simply is parroting a common cultural mindset, because it is absorbed in a worldview that is drenched in self-fulfillment as the greatest virtue to be pursued. However, every parent I know, even if they’ve faced struggles in the marriage because of children––which is certainly common––would never choose to get rid of their kids because of that, nor if they had it to do over again would they choose to not have kids. A lot of people regret not having kids, I know of no one who regrets having kids.
The attitude expressed in The Independent article (and others like it), is that individual happiness and health is the end all. It reveals how immensely selfish much of our culture is. Further, it displays a false notion of what marriage is for. If marriage is simply about gratifying personal satisfaction, the marriage will quickly lose its luster. However, if it is about mutual sacrificial love, then difficulties (including the difficulties which a newborn introduce) become opportunities to love each other, support each other, and grow in greater unity and joy.
But let’s look at the other “science” which is cited. It describes lack of sleep, the expenses which children incur, and the potential dent in especially the woman’s income. Once again, these are not the full picture. If having children is bad for your health, we must ask: “by what measure?” Less sleep, sure. However, how many times have you seen a mother bedraggled, sleep deprived, and exhausted still beam with joy as she nurses the baby to sleep once more? Ask her if she would trade in her baby for a being able to have a full night of sleep. She ask you what institution you got out of.
Do children bring more expenses? Yep. But what is a man, particularly, working for. To provide and to pass on a good heritage to his children. Again, if we think that working for money is simply so you can attend concerts, eat out, go to games and movies, buy big boy toys, you will be deeply dissatisfied when you come to the end of your life with all your ticket stubs, ATV’s, and a big house, but no one to hand off your legacy to.
Once more, the sloppy thinking displayed in this article entirely neglects the fact that marriage is shown to grow wealth, and children who grow up in a married home unequivocally are better off by every measure. Thus, if individual happiness is the goal, the responsibility of marriage and children is actually more likely to produce wealth.
The final “science” which The Independent hyperventilates over is: OVERPOPULATION! While their earlier “science” was dumb, this is the dumbest. I’ve written before on the folly innate in the overpopulation argument. Let is suffice here to say that the assumption behind this argument is that we must “save the planet.” But for whom? This exposes the pervasiveness of Darwinian thought, it turns this planet into a place to be survived, rather than a garden to be stewarded.
Hard work is the most rewarding work.Children are hard work. It takes selflessness to ensure that both the marriage and family thrive. However, my observation is that joy and happiness exponentially grow as a couple raise children. It takes sacrifice, and it requires both husband and wife to take responsibility. But hard work is the most rewarding work.
My wife and I often fall into bed exhausted after the rodeo of dinner time, the tsunami of bath time, and the theatrics of bedtime; but more often than not, our last words to each other are memories and laughter of what the kids said and did that day. When my son Edwin awoke this morning, bright eyed at 6am, Elsje and I couldn’t help but squeeze him close and enjoy his kisses and snuggles. The joy found in those little laughs and watching them grow and change is inexpressible. I’ll give up sleep for that.
The Independent can give up sleep to watch a midnight release of the latest flick, or watch the playoffs, or go clubbing. I’ll pay money and lose sleep to see my children grow in wisdom and godliness, and I’ll rejoice to see that all that sacrifice reaps a harvest in my old age.