Thoughts on Parenting

This post was inspired by this other post here. This lady wrote an article bashing the idea of motherhood being the most important job in the world. I replied with a comment that got so long, I figured I’d re-purpose it as a blog post. I edited and expanded on some things, because The Guardian had a word limit and also wouldn’t let me swear.

Two things to clarify:

  • I am not bashing childless people. That’s someone’s choice and I respect it.
  • I am not defining “motherhood” as a stay-at-home mom who does nothing but raise her children. I am defining “parenthood” as someone who is constantly working their life around raising their children and turning them into decent, capable, ethical human beings. A good parent keeps their child(ren) in mind with everything that they do, thinking about what effect their actions will have on their child’s life.

Here’s my comment.

***

In terms of your opinions, the conclusions I draw from your post are that:

1. You’re not happy with the job your parents did with you, and consider any success in your life to be despite them rather than because of them.

2. You don’t consider raising your sons the most important thing in your life. Which makes me sad, personally.

3. You’re bitter about how parenting has impacted your “real” career, because you find motherhood has “socially and financially hobbled” women.

If you’re trying to make a point about sexism, you have failed miserably and come off as an anti-parent ranter—something that makes no sense, since according to Wikipedia you have two children.

Certainly it’s true that being a dad is ALSO the most important job in the world. And since you can’t technically have two “most” important jobs in the world, sure it would be better phrased that being a PARENT is the most important job in the world.

But your article doesn’t seem to be saying that. You seem to be saying that parenting is not the most important thing one can do.

 

“Even if it were a job, there is no way being a professional mother could be the hardest when compared to working 16 hours a day in a clothing factory in Bangladesh, making bricks in an Indian kiln, or being a Chinese miner.”

Okay, first of all, those working conditions shouldn’t even exist, so that’s a bit of a shitty example. That’s like saying, “OH REALLY? WELL WHAT ABOUT THAI SEX SLAVES, HUH? YOU THINK YOU HAVE A HARDER JOB THAN THEM?”

Um, maybe if by “professional mother” you mean someone who sits on her behind all day drinking beer and popping Valium while letting her kids run wild throughout the house. But the mothers (and parents) I know are active with their children and actually…you know…DO things with them and TEACH them things, intended to raise them into decent adults. That includes my wife and I. And from childhood to adulthood, that is a 24-hour job, not a 16-hour one.

“Nor could it ever be considered the most important job in comparison with a surgeon who saves lives, anyone running a nation, or a judge deciding on people’s destiny.”

Sure, if you’re talking about during your own lifetime. A surgeon saves a life. Someone running a nation enacts some laws. And a judge decides if someone goes to jail or goes free.

But right off the bat you’ve got your counter-argument, because a parent can raise three children that become a surgeon, a president and a judge. And maybe another one who’s a theoretical physicist who gets man into space and another one who starts a non-profit in Africa providing water for villages and helping with the AIDS epidemic. And they all did it because of their parent (mother OR father) who was just really, really, super awesome and instilled in them a love for human life and decency.

Surgeon 1, President 1, Judge 1, Mother 5.

If that’s a completely unrealistic scenario to you, then I have to ask what are YOU raising your kids to do? Because I’m raising mine to go out there and be the change they want to see in the world, to make massive differences in society and the planet. And I’m doing it while ALSO having my own more-than-full-time entrepreneurial career. So don’t tell me that it’s a choice of being a professional parent OR having your own life.

If RIGHT NOW is all you’re considering, then you’ve fallen into the trap I see a lot of atheists falling into—believing that since there is no life beyond your current one, your current one is all that matters. I’m not saying you’re wrong or right about it, only that you’re not looking at the big picture. Whether or not there IS an afterlife is irrelevant, because there’s no question that the world will go on after you die, and what you do now as a parent (or not) will affect that world.

You’ve got two kids. If you raise them into decent adults, and then they have two kids and raise them into decent adults, and then THEY have two kids and then raise them into decent adults, then in three generations you’ve got eight good people where before you were only one. Keep it going down the line and you’ve got the potential for a real force for change in the world. And if you say that you don’t care because you’re not responsible for those generations, well, then, you’re part of the problems. ALL the problems.

I’m also not bashing the childless here. People are perfectly free to be childless if they want. They can still have a beneficial influence on this society and future society. They can still help shape and mold it. But they do not have as strong an influence as a good, involved parent. Simple fact. No one in the world will have as much influence on my kids as I do. Which is what makes me try to be the best person I can be, especially to them.

Being a parent IS the most important job in the world, and has the greatest potential for long-term good for a society. A government of any kind only works when it is run by and for good people. Good people are not ENTIRELY created by good parents, but it sure helps. If people are a combination of nature and nurture, then being a good parent is the only guarantee that you’ll have good people in charge of things and working to make our world a better one.

Garrett Robinson

Over 100,000 readers have read and loved Garrett's books, like the fantasy hits Nightblade and Midrealm. He's also a film festival favorite with movies like Unsaid, and a tech guru who posts lots of helpful how-tos for writers and filmmakers over at garrettbrobinson.com.

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