Every year the father’s and mother’s days roll around and we spend time in reflection on the impact that our parents had on our lives. This is a wonderful thing indeed. Especially for us millennials in our young adult years. We are a generation that is independent, driven and consequently, often distant from our parents. After all, they are so different. Some of them are still using flip phones and find Facebook and Instagram mystifying. And yet we reflect on, and respect all that they did for us. We are thankful for how hard they worked to give us better lives and opportunities then they had, we think on ways we can improve and deepen our relationships with them. This is all very valuable.
But there is one thing I don’t really see happening among my generation: We aren’t reflecting and talking about the glory, power and joy of parenting itself. We are thankful for the hard work of our parents in giving us life and raising us, but we are not really excited about becoming parents ourselves. We take what they have given to us but we are not ready to give ourselves.
Perhaps there are reasons for this. We are a generation marred by a culture of high divorce rates and we have seen the damage of a family that is falling apart. We have become skeptical of the possibility of lifelong commitment. We are a generation that holds individual autonomy as one of the chief virtues and is willing to reform thousands of years of morals and values for the sake of our new way. In light of this children are often seen as a burden to be avoided till “later”.
And yet, we are deeply thankful for the work and love of our parents. We know that without them we would not be where we are.
I am indeed very thankful for the life and example of my parents. But this year my focus has been forced in a different direction with the birth of my daughter this past February. I have been discovering the beauty of that which my parents did for me firsthand. The surrender of personal autonomy comes with a cost indeed. But I am seeing that the reward for this cost is infinitely worth the sacrifice. There is a new depth of joy in knowing that my little girl is the product of love and commitment that my wife and I share as a family. It grips me unlike anything else to know that she needs me. Her beautiful and total dependence on me pushes me to newer levels of hard work, sacrifice, and depth of character.
I wouldn’t trade that for any life of perfect and total freedom.
In our day the family is a crumbling institution. What future is there in a society that sees the task of raising new lives as one of the greatest burdens? It makes this day so much more powerful, not only to remember the impact my parents had on me, but to know that, years down the road, my kids will be able to do the same.
“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.” (Psalm 127:1-5)