Parenting is a hot topic for me. I’ve always felt a calling to be a father, and being around children gives me joy. At the same time, I’ve chosen to dedicate my life to self-development and personal growth. Are these two choices compatible?
As time passes, I realize that I will soon need to make a decision on whether or not to have children.
I am sure that many of you have asked yourselves the same question:
What should I do? Have a family—be a father or a mother—or not? Will parenting be compatible with realizing my dreams and fulfilling my life mission?
There are thousands of people around the world who just do what their social and cultural context asks them to do, which in most cases means marrying and starting a new family. That’s perfectly fine. Yet for many of us, that traditional model doesn’t work anymore. We feel that we have the right to decide on such an important choice, and parenting becomes one of our big life questions.
Obviously, the choice of having children is also influenced by external factors: money, health, having a partner or not. But at the end of the day, the fundamental question is still the same: do we want to have children, or not?
(Note: I’m intentionally skipping the topic of adoption. It’s simply too complex and deep to fit in here).
The Dilemma of Parenting for “Conscious People.”
For people who have chosen to dedicate their lives to spirituality, healing or personal growth, the issue of parenting can become even more pressing. Having children is a life-long project and, as rewarding as it is, it requires large amounts of time and energy. But spiritual work and personal growth also require time and energy—usually lots of it.
This is why “conscious people” often ask themselves questions like, “If I don’t have children, won’t it be easier to save the world?” Or, at the opposite end of the spectrum, “If I don’t have children, am I missing out on one of the deepest human experiences? Will I miss my chance to perpetuate myself in the memory and genes of my offspring?” Or the ubiquitous, “Given the current conditions of our planet, is it better to have children or not?”
Ironically, even when we seem to have reached some sort of decision, life has a way of testing and twisting our intentions. We might “decide” to be a mother, only to realize that we can’t find the person to do that. Or, we might feel that parenting is not for us, but we happen to be madly in love with someone who wants to have a baby—with us!
Looking Above the Maze.
Is there a way out of this labyrinth? I think so. All labyrinths look much less complicated if we get a chance to look at them from above. Often, our incapacity to take a stance before the big choices of life (Should I have children? Should I settle down? What career should I choose?) comes from our inability to zoom out and “look from above.”
When we feel pressed to make a life-changing decision, we can become fixated on that particular situation and lose track of the bigger context. We look at our current predicament as if it were the only relevant thing in the universe. We feel that it all hangs upon the choice we make today—to have a baby or not, to buy that house or not, to move south or not.
In those cases, when there really doesn’t seem to be a way out, it may be wise to try to zoom out, and see our life in the context of everything else that is happening on earth. From that vantage point, things look a bit different. We may realize that, in the bigger scheme, there need to be people who decide to have children (obvious, right? otherwise we would get to extinction pretty soon), and there also need to be people who do not have children.
I want to give you an example from my own family.
Continue reading the full article on the Elephant Journal.
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