Does Successful Child Rearing Have to Be Joyful?

During a stint as a guest on a nationally syndicated radio talk show, the host remarked that he didn't hear me talking much about the "joy" of parenthood. He asked if I had, indeed, enjoyed being a parent.

No, I replied. I wouldn't say that I enjoyed being a parent - not overall, at least. Looking back, there were certainly immensely enjoyable times, but they were the exception, not the rule. The rule was by no means unpleasant or unhappy, but it wasn't particularly enjoyable, either. I looked at parenthood as a responsibility, not a playground where I was supposed to have a good time. God gave Willie and me two packages of such responsibility and charged us with doing a good job, not having fun. Nonetheless, we had our share of fun, and it may well be that fun was more plentiful and more real in our family than in many because we weren't trying to manufacture it.

It's too bad that today's parents have been led to believe that parenthood should, if one is successful at it, be an almost constant state of joy. Parenthood is not a romantic endeavor. Nor is it glorious. If one is successful at it, the payoff comes when one's children are independent adults. Parents who think child rearing should be joyful are setting themselves up for a big disappointment. Instead of feeling successful at it, they're more likely to feel a lot of frustration, anger, anxiety, and guilt. In that regard, it's just like any other job. If you have unrealistic expectations concerning your employment, you're probably going wind up hating it. If, on the other hand, your expectations are realistic, you'll be better able to retain a sense of humor when things aren't going so well.

Believe me, you'll laugh a lot more if you're not expecting parenthood to be a lot of fun.

Copyright 2016, John K. Rosemond

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