Sunday, 4 May 2014

The value of parenting

What's the value of parenting?

I have never valued childhood. I disliked being a child, being treated as a child, not being taken seriously. I couldn't wait to grow up. By age 12, I was my mother's best friend and confidante, I made my own decisions - among them, freeing our family from our father's presence by moving him out - and I thought independently. Ever since, I have viewed the years before 11 or so as wasted time. Time 'before I started really thinking'.

Little me.
I never had any patience for my sister's childishness. She was a child - she thought like one, acted like one, and fair enough, she's six years younger than me! I discounted her thoughts and opinions because she was 'just a kid'. She's the only child I had any dealings with, until very recently, and the way I dealt with her was pretty much to make her obey and keep her quiet.

It's not hard to guess where this disdain for childhood came from. As a child, I was powerless; adulthood meant independence and self-determination. I needed it as soon as possible!

Of course I know that God values children. 'Let the little ones come to Me'... but why? I ask, in all sincerity, what is the value of childhood? - Does it have any?

All creatures need time to grow up to maturity. I just never saw the value in the process, and perhaps I still fail to see it clearly. Children must gradually learn facts, social skills, behaviours until they reach adulthood. They are formed by their caregivers until they are mature enough to accept or reject that formation. And that is the rub of my issue.

If this is all that childhood is there for - what is the value of parenting? As a mother, do I expect to slave away for something between 14-18 years until that child is ready to make their own decisions, which may or may not have anything to do with what I tried to show and teach them? 

Personally I see my childhood as an isolated phase, it has no bearing on my life now. I tend to think that nothing my parents said or did formed me, except where I allow it to; my values, aims and views are completely different from theirs. Sure, what happened in my life as a child has shaped me, but none of that shaping is from their parenting efforts. My mother would have loved to see me embrace music and make a living from it, being independent from any man and touring the world. My father? I have no idea what he wanted for me. I don't think he did. But he certainly did nothing to make me value family and marriage.

The question I'm still wrestling with - the deep sense that has always meant I wasn't keen on motherhood - is this: why invest so much of myself, emotions, time, love, effort, into years of bringing up a child who may well end up keeping nothing of what I built into them?

Why should it be worth all that?


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Thanks so much for sharing!