When You Have A Child, It’s Not About You

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2019/03/22/when-you-have-a-child-its-not-about-you/

The conversation with the surgeon was to the point. With each procedure, he explained the cost and the chance of survival. And, one more thing:  full payment was required up front.

That is the reality of pet surgery.

You’re talking about a dog and whether all of it is worth it.

Sound cold? It is. But the subject is an animal. It’s not like we’re talking about a child.

There is a difference, right?

I miss my dogs. They brought companionship, and a warmth to my soul that often picked me up. There was some responsibility involved, but well worth it.

Before we had our first child, my wife and I bought a dog, “to break us in,” we joked. My dog-loving mom could jest about a “grand-puppy.”

But our dogs were never children:  cared for, deeply, but not loved like a child.

Apparently, more and more families see their pets as children. From a Psychology Today article:

“Pet owners of today seem to blur the lines between children and pet dogs in many ways. For example, 81% of those surveyed consider their dogs to be true family members, equal in status to children. It appears that dogs have become such an important part of the family that 54% of Americans now consider themselves to be “pet parents” rather than “pet owners.”

That story came out in 2011, and I assume the issue is the same today, if not worse.

But the concern here is not the adults’ perception of pets …

It’s their perception of children.

Are they glorified pets – their only purpose to bring fulfillment to their parents; another box to be checked off on the bucket list?

If a pet required so much maintenance that it drastically changed your life, you probably would get rid of it. What about a child?

How we view our children became a topic when marketing expert and entrepreneur Sam McRoberts sent out this tweet:

Reaction was swift, from condemnation to appreciation for his honesty. McRoberts has spun his own reaction, emphasizing that his son knows he is loved.

But you can’t spin the part that you regret the birth of your son – a regret that reflects a self-focused life. (This is McRoberts of the book Screw the Zoo:  Self-mastery and Personal Liberation.)

Do we break down this choice between a child and personal liberation (i.e., ‘it’s all about me’)?

A soul has been put in your care. The child’s first lessons of love and life come from the parents. And McRoberts’s lesson is that he regrets his son’s life because, because … the boy is an inconvenience to dad’s personal wants.

Here, children’s value is viewed only in terms of how they affect their parents – just like another product (or pet).

But family is so much more than that. I’ve written plenty about kids, including an article titled “How Many Kids Is Too Many?” In it, I quote social critic Matt Walsh:

“Walking the bumpiest parts of the road together, struggling, sacrificing, suffering, going without – this is what brings a family together. It’s an edifying experience if you have the right heart about it.”

Yes, kids can be inconvenient. This week was supposed to be a productive one for me, with time carved out to take my wife out for our 32nd wedding anniversary. But the kids got in the way, with their activities, commitments, and the time we just spend together. My wife got a “rain check” for our anniversary. It was not the first time. We smile about it.

There are no regrets.

By the way, my first dog, a black Labrador, did survive its surgery and lived 15 good years, as did the chocolate lab that followed. I cried when they died, grateful for their companionship.

But kids are more than companions. They are our children. I pray every day that they receive the greatest of my love.


Kevin Thomas is a writer and teacher living with his wife and children in Standish, Maine.