Lately, Amy and I have been pondering the difficulty of parenting, as well as the way the difficulty is often regarded. It is interesting to hear some people’s comments about those who express their struggles in raising numerous children. Often, after hearing a parent lament a stressful period with their kids, we’ve heard someone say, “Well, that’s the result of their choice,” presumably to remind us all that they brought the difficulty upon ourselves by having so many kids. Well, true, but why point out the obvious? To diminish their accomplishments and suggest that they really don’t deserve so much credit after all?
People don’t make such remarks in other contexts, even when the struggle is largely self-serving. When a runner reports how hard it was to run a marathon, does anyone say, “Well, that was their choice”? Or if a mountain climber says he really struggled to make it to the summit of Mt. Everest, would anyone say, “He brought that difficulty upon himself”? Of course not. We recognize that, although such challenges are the consequence of personal choices, those who meet them deserve credit nonetheless. So why are some people loathe to acknowledge the difficulty of parenting numerous children, especially when this is incomparably more valuable than even the most impressive athletic feat? Why are some people inclined to diminish the significance of dedicated parenting? I don’t know.
But one thing I do know is that I’m thankful for the hard work of good parents. Chosen or not, and regardless of the number, raising children is a profound challenge. And when parents do it well, their kids aren’t the only ones that benefit. We all benefit.