Author misses point on parenting

Published: Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 04:04 PM.

So while there is no one, single reason why parenting is tougher in the 21st century, there actually is an overarching reason. Selfishness.

Life isn’t about us. It just isn’t. While we’d like it to be about us and often try to make it about us, it’s not about us.

And just like life isn’t about us, neither is parenting about the parents. It’s selfish to think and act otherwise.

Not to oversimplify the trials and tribulations of modern parenting or the theme of Collins’ book, but we need a longer, broader view. Rather than one of Collins’ reasons for “funless” parenting being that, “Parents no longer raise children for the family’s sake or that of the broader world,” we need a reawakening of our reason for existence as parents. We parent for the world, not for us or even our kids.

We’re supposed to grow up and outgrow the belief that life is about us — that we’re the center of the universe. We’re supposed to learn that our lives exist not to build our own excellent existence or even our kids’ so much, as to work hard teaching them to prepare a better place for the next generation and the generation after that. Moreover, we’re supposed to have learned and then teach our kids that the blessing of life is intended not to be a blessing for ourselves but for others.

Parenting never was intended to be fun. Yet neither is it a trap. Parenting is, instead, best described as a weapon in defense of our future.

We learn about parenting — modern or otherwise — best, I think, from Kahil Gibran, author of “The Profit” (Random House). Gibran wrote to parents in words as fresh today as they were first written in 1923: “Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself. They come through you but are not from you, and though they are with you, yet they belong not to you. You may house their bodies but not their souls, for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow which you cannot visit. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday. You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

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