The other day I read this post by Emily at Lioness at the Gate about motherhood and bearing children. I loved all of her thoughts, but her final thought really stuck with me. She said, “Imagine if we valued women for their abilities to reproduce and also valued children for their ability to help out and be productive, not to be a drain.”
In the past few years I have read a few articles/seen a few videos about having children and their effect on our happiness, and one article suggested that people who have kids psych themselves out, or convince themselves that they are happier than they really are (apparently psychologist call this a “focusing illusion”). In effect, the article was arguing that people who have children aren’t really happier than people who don’t have children, they simply convince themselves that they are.
There was also that French advertisement for protection that seemed to have the same message – avoid all the trouble of children by not getting pregnant in the first place.
Children truly do bring happiness. They also bring a lot of heartache. Parents probably know more stress, fatigue, and heartache than anyone. However, they also know love, compassion, happiness, and joy more fully than anyone. And this is a gospel principle – opposition in all things. How can we think to really know what it means to be happy if we never truly know sorrow?
The scriptures teach that if Adam and Eve had stayed in the garden, and not transgressed and partaken of the forbidden fruit, “they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing good, for they knew no sin.” (2 Nephi 2:23; emphasis added) So true happiness and joy comes from knowing true misery and sorrow. Having children is the ultimate way the Father could teach us about grief and sorrow and heartache, and also the ultimate way He could teach us about love and joy and happiness.
After all, the Father gave His only begotten Son to atone for the sins of the world and die for man on the cross. We want to be like our Father (see Matt 5:48) and if we are to be like Him, we need to try to understand the emotions that He feels in being a parent. I think of my parents, who buried a son, and I wonder if my parents don’t know now the character of God a little more than most – because of the grief and sorrow they have experienced. And yet, how much more sweet is their joy because they have tasted the bitterness of grief?
I hope that we can see children as a blessing, and that we can value women for their ability to bear children, and not seek to minimize that significant and important role that women have.
Do you value women for their ability to bear children? Do you value children for their ability to teach you heartache and sorrow, but also love and joy?