Posts tagged ‘Time Magazine’

In Defense of Child Rearing


Credit: Time Magazine

I’ve been a dad for five months now.  I know that makes me nowhere close to an expert on parenting, but it is amazing how steep the learning curve is when you’re a daddy.  I’ve learned how to change a diaper, how to burp a baby, how to swaddle a baby, how to fasten a car seat, and which brands of formula stain badly after your daughter spits up on you.  But beyond these nuts and bolts lessons, I have learned something else:  having a child makes your life exponentially more complicated.  There are schedules you have to arrange, bedtimes you have to keep, and a whole host of new chores you have to do.  It’s not simple being a dad.

It was this realization that with raising children comes complications that led Lauren Sandler to write an apologetic for childlessness in Time Magazine titled, “Having It All Without Having Children.”  In her article, she notes how people are opting out of parenthood with ever increasing frequency:

The birthrate in the U.S. is the lowest in recorded American history, which includes the fertility crash of the Great Depression. From 2007 to 2011, the most recent year for which there’s data, the fertility rate declined 9%. A 2010 Pew Research report showed that childlessness has risen across all racial and ethnic groups, adding up to about 1 in 5 American women who end their childbearing years maternity-free, compared with 1 in 10 in the 1970s.[1]

Kids, for many people it turns out, are cumbersome – too cumbersome.  There is, of course, the financial burden of raising children:

The rise of attachment parenting, with its immersive demands, and the sheer economic cost of raising a child – for a child born in 2011, an average of $234,900 until age 18, according to the USDA, and $390,000 if your household earns over $100,000 – has made motherhood a formidable prospect for some women.

There is also the burden raising a child puts on one’s career:  “The opportunity costs for an American woman who gets off the career track could average as high as $1 million in lost salary, lost promotions and so on.”  But perhaps the most interesting burden that childhood brings, according to one researcher, is an intellectual burden:

At the London School of Economics, Satoshi Kanazawa has begun to present scholarship asserting that the more intelligent women are, the less likely they are to become mothers … Kanazawa analyzed the U.K.’s National Child Development Study, which followed a set of people for 50 years, and found that high intelligence correlated with early – and lifelong – adoption of childlessness.  He found that among girls in the study, an increase of 15 IQ points decreased the odds of their becoming a mother by 25%.  When he added controls for economics and education, the results were the same: childhood intelligence predicted childlessness.

As titillating at these statistics might be, they generate more heat than light.  Indeed, they are only props marshaled to justify the real reason people do not want to have kids.  The real reason can be found in the words of documentary filmmaker Laura Scott, whom Lauren Sandler quotes at the beginning of her article:  “My main motive not to have kids was that I loved my life the way it was.”  Scott makes no secret of the reason she opted out of parenthood:  her life is her life.  Kids make her life not about her.  And that, she decided, is something she cannot endure.

One has to wonder when it became commendable to be so unashamedly selfish.  The beauty and blessing of giving your life to the nurture and care of another is apparently lost on far too many people.

In the face of such cultural confusion concerning child rearing, it is useful to briefly review what the Bible says about children:

  • Children matter to God which means they should matter to us too.  Jesus’ words and actions express vividly His concern and care for kids.  When people are bringing their children to Jesus to have Him bless them and the disciples try to keep the kids away, Jesus chides the Twelve, saying, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Mark 10:14).  Jesus enjoys spending time with children and blessing them.  We should too.
  • Bearing and raising children, though it is not commanded specifically for every individual, is generally commendable.  God’s commission at creation has an inescapably universal ring to it:  “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28).  Though we have plenty of biblical examples of people who did not have children due to one circumstance or another, a disdain for and avoidance of childbearing runs contrary to the biblical estimation of kids.
  • Children, even when they feel like a burden, are in reality a divine blessing!  The words of the Psalmist sum it up:  “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from Him” (Psalm 127:3).

So what does all this mean?  It means simply this:  kids are precious and well worth celebrating.  Past cultural adages such as “Children should be seen and not heard” as well as a present cultural avoidance and diminishment of child rearing are sad testimonies to human sinfulness and selfishness.  Conversely, engaging children can be not only fun, it can also be sanctifying.  And everyone needs opportunities to be sanctified.

[1] Lauren Sandler, “Having It All Without Having Children,” Time (8.12.2013).

August 26, 2013 at 5:15 am Leave a comment

Our Leadership Lacuna

Screen Shot 2013-05-15 at 5.13.27 PMThe headlines speak for themselves.  “Exclusive: Benghazi Talking Points Underwent 12 Revisions, Scrubbed of Terror Reference.”[1]  “IRS Admits To Targeting Conservative Groups Over Tax Status.”[2]  “Gov’t Obtains Wide AP Phone Records In Probe.”[3]  It has not been a good week for our nation’s leaders.  And there has been much shock and dismay expressed from people of all political persuasions and stripes.  And yet, no matter how large these scandals may loom, there remains a subtle subtext that underscores these immense ignominies.  To quote the words of the great George Strait in summary of this subtext:  “I’ve come to expect it from you.”  This, sadly, is the kind of behavior that we expect from our leaders.  It may be scandalous, but it isn’t all that surprising.

So how does the general public respond to these salacious, but unsurprising, scandals?  Consider this from TIME’s  Zeke Miller and Michael Crowley in response to the AP phone records story:

Conservatives are not often fierce defenders of the media. But Monday’s news that the Justice Department obtained phone records for several Associated Press reporters as part of a national security leak probe raised a furor on the right, causing numerous Republicans to harshly criticize the Obama administration. While some may have genuine concerns about First Amendment protections, the right’s response also spotlighted an emerging Republican critique of Barack Obama as a Big Brother-style tyrant in charge of a power-abusing surveillance state…

Conservatives are now in the odd position of implicitly defending the media’s rights against the imperative of national security secrecy, a cause that didn’t interest them much when the FBI sought media phone records during the Bush years.[4]

Miller and Crowley’s argument runs like this:  Republicans defended their own when President Bush went after media phone records, so Democrats may do the same with President Obama.  After all, every president and politician bends the rules and compromises on ethics.  We simply have to accept this and then back the horse of our own political persuasion while also working to discredit the opposition.  After all, that’s the formula for winning elections.  One need look no farther than the recent victory of Mark Sanford, just sworn in as South Carolina’s newest Republican congressman, even though a few years earlier he engaged in an illicit affair with an Argentinian woman, insisting that she was his “soul mate,” all while serving as South Carolina’s governor.

Hopefully, a Christian can see right through this kind of shameful political jockeying.  As my mother used to tell me, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”  You can’t justify your group’s bad behavior by pointing to the bad behavior of another group.

So then, how should the Christian react and respond when corruption and scandal among our rock our nation’s leaders?  First, no matter what our political persuasion, we can honestly, but also compassionately, call these types of scandals what they are:  sinful.  Second, rather than buying into the talking points, spin rooms, and damage control strategies, we can honestly, but also compassionately, call for repentance from our leaders.  The best way to deal with sin is not to minimize or excuse it, but to confess it!  Finally, even if our leaders in Washington are not the kind of leaders our nation and world needs, we can be the kind of leaders our nation and world needs.  We can lead in our sphere of influence with integrity and character and with repentance when we falter and fail.  We can seek to lead the way King David sought to lead Israel:  “And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them” (Psalm 78:72).

Even though we cannot control how our leaders lead us, we can control the way we lead others – and ourselves.  With God’s help, may we diligently guard the quality and character of our leadership.  Our world needs all the faithful leaders it can get.

[1] Jonathan Karl, “Exclusive: Benghazi Talking Points Underwent 12 Revisions, Scrubbed of Terror Reference,” ABC News (5.10.2013).

[2] Zeke J Miller & Alex Altman, “IRS Admits To Targeting Conservative Groups Over Tax Status,” TIME Magazine (5.10.2013).

[3] Mark Sherman, “Gov’t Obtains Wide AP Phone Records In Probe,” The Associated Press (5.13.2013).

[4] Zeke Miller & Michael Crowley, “The New GOP Case Against Obama: He’s Cheney!TIME Magazine (5.14.2013).

May 20, 2013 at 5:15 am 2 comments

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