Do you realize how valuable your children are?
By Dave Boehi
One of the most provocative articles I’ve seen in recent years appeared last summer in the London Daily Mail. It was titled, “Sorry, But My Children Bore Me To Death,” and was written by Helen Kirwan-Taylor, a 42-year-old writer and mother of two sons. In this age of the Internet, the article caught the attention of parents around the world.
I think the writer makes a few good points about parents who focus too much of their time, attention, and money on raising their children—parents who “cater to their every whim.” But in her attempt to stimulate controversy, she betrays a strong strain of self-centeredness in her complaints about the drudgery of motherhood. For example:
To be honest, I spent much of the early years of my children’s lives in a workaholic frenzy because the thought of spending time with them was more stressful than any journalistic assignment I could imagine.
Kids are supposed to be fulfilling, life-changing, life-enhancing fun: why was my attitude towards them so different?
While all my girlfriends were dropping important careers and occupying their afternoons with cake baking, I was begging the nanny to stay on, at least until she had read my two a bedtime story.
My children … know better than to expect me to sit through a cricket match, and they’ve completely given up on expecting me to spend school holidays taking them to museums or enjoying the latest cinema block-buster alongside them. (I spent two hours texting friends throughout a screening of Pirates Of The Caribbean the other day)….
They stopped asking me to take them to the park (how tedious) years ago. But now when I try to entertain them and say: ‘Why don’t we get out the Monopoly board?’ they simply look at me woefully and sigh: ‘Don’t bother, Mum, you’ll just get bored.’
By the end of the article you wonder if this mother likes anything about parenting. She appears to regard everything else in her life to be so much more exciting and fulfilling than spending time with her sons.
You can imagine the type of response this article provoked. The Daily Mail, for example, posted 89 letters, most of them saying something similar to the London woman who asked, “Why have kids at all if you don’t want to spend time with them?”
The value of children
You might wonder why I would talk about this article in a weekly column about marriage. Well, it seems to me that the decisions married couples make about parenting are among the most important of their lives. And I’ve been concerned about a general trend in our culture toward considering our own self-fulfillment more important than our responsibility as parents.
There is no doubt that God places a high value on children. Psalm 127:3-5 tells us, “Behold, children are a gift of the Lord. The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.” Scriptures like Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and Psalm 78:1-8 speak of the importance of parents teaching their children to trust God and keep His commandments.
It’s difficult to appreciate the privilege of parenting, however, when you are too focused on whether it is “boring” or not.
To be honest, I have to admit that raising children can be boring at times. But then … what isn’t boring at times?
Work can sometimes be boring. Relationships can be boring. I love watching football, but I’ve seen my share of boring games. And here’s one of my deepest, darkest secrets: Sometimes I even find myself bored during the Sunday morning service at my church!
Yet in most cases I find boredom to be a function of attitude—a result of my own selfishness and lack of vision or initiative or creativity. If I’m bored as a parent, usually that’s a sign that I’m not working at it very hard.
Raising the next generation
My challenge to parents who consider parenthood boring comes in the form of two questions:
Do you realize how valuable your children are? I’d be interested in why she thinks her work and her adult life are more important than raising the next generation. I wonder if she realizes that even the most mundane or repetitive tasks of parenthood take on a whole new meaning when you consider how important children are to God.
What kind of a legacy are you leaving? How will your children remember you? Will they want to spend time with you when they are older, when they have children of their own? Will they want to take care of you if you are sick or stricken with Alzheimer’s … or will that be too boring?
As one British woman wrote after reading the Daily Mail article, “What a well-written, amusing and provocative read—but blimey, I hope her kids don’t read it.”
This article originally appeared in Marriage Memo, a weekly e-newsletter. To subscribe free to Marriage Memo and other FamilyLife e-newsletters, click here. For the Marriage Memo archives, click here.