But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” - Matthew 19:14 (NLT)
If you asked me five years ago if I wanted kids, I would have said no and laughed.
If you had asked me two years ago if I wanted kids, I also would have said no and laughed.
If you asked me now if I want kids, I would still probably say no. But I'm not laughing anymore.
Why do so many young people (like I once did) believe that parenthood is nothing but a unnecessary burden? The simple answer is:
There is a problem with the stigma and culture we, as a society, have created regarding children.
I grew up watching shows like "Cheaper by the Dozen," "Yours, Mine, and Ours," and "The Pacifier." All these movies (and every other movie on the planet involving parenting) have one thing in common: kids are messy, awful, and cause trouble. And it's not just movies that have created this cultural stigma, its all media and the entire mindset regarding parenting and motherhood as a whole.
There was a time I would see kids and cringe. Literally cringe. And I felt bad for the mothers that had to deal with those kids. I remember thinking that I would never want to deal with a burden like that. Now, I am ashamed of that attitude.
It wasn't until recently that I begun switching my tune.
One of the things that made a difference in my ideals was my husband's family. Though my husband and his two siblings are completely grown up, I love watching them together. They tease each other, play practical jokes, and sometimes pick fights, but they are always there for each other and their mother. I remember watching them around a year ago and thinking, "If I could have kids like these, I would be blessed." This was a huge paradigm shift for me. Until that point, having children myself rarely crossed my mind.
My sister was another person who helped me change my no-children-attitude. In 2019, I had gotten back from a lady's fall retreat I had gone on. My sister, who is a mother herself, called me and asked how the retreat went. I told her that we had discussed the topic of "Lies Women Believe." One of the activities the counselors had us do was write down some lies that we have a tendency to believe on a piece of paper, keep the lie, and then pray about it.
Somehow, after around an hour on the phone with my sister, we started talking about kids. I mentioned once again how much I didn't want to be a mom. When my sister asked why, I told her all sorts of things, but the main one was, "Kids are an unnecessary burden." My sister stopped me in my tracks. She said, "Jenn, you better get out your pen and write down that lie you just said." After asking her what she meant, she explained to me that children were not at all an unnecessary burden. Yes, children were hard, but they were not a burden. My sister explained to me that Satan was creating a lie that I was believing that motherhood is an awful fate to be had. She told me she couldn't be happier being a mother.
I listened to what my sister said. I pondered it and prayed about it. And am still praying about it. And slowly, I am understanding the value of children, and how much of a lie we, as a society, have created.
Even Christian websites such as "Her View From Home," are contributing to the lies Satan wants to feed us about motherhood. Ever since being a contributing author on Her View, I have seen very few posts about the joys of motherhood. Rather, Christian posts written by Christian ladies discuss how awful motherhood can be, how mothers "deserve a break because they have no time for themselves," and how worn out, stressed, and unhappy children have made mothers on a day-to-day basis. All the while, Her View From Home is claiming that these posts are "encouraging" to women.
Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that mothers shouldn't take a break. They should. But when you scroll through a website and see nothing but negative posts like these about the trials of motherhood, how is this contributing to the overall good of the childless women reading these posts? Posts like these only show one side of the story. Where is the whole truth? Where is the posts about children being blessings and a joy to be had?
There is not enough of this kind of positive content regarding parenting. In consequence, it is making young millennial and gen z-ers believe the false lie that children are nothing but a disgusting problem.
According to an NBC Poll, only 30% of Millennials and Gen Z-ers think having children is actually necessary. THIRTY-PERCENT of TWO generations of people. What does this tell you? It tells us that there is something wrong with society on how we view children. And more and more young people are getting sucked into this mindset. I was sucked into it, and the majority of women I know my age are also sucked in.
God created us, from the very beginning, to procreate. It's in our instincts and nature to want to reproduce children. In fact, it's within the very plan of God. God said nine times in Genesis to "Be fruitful, and multiply..." Basically, have kids. Yet, our society is telling us that children are gross, unnecessary, and a burden. This is a sad, sad, sad state of affairs. It is making younger generations despise parenthood, something God absolutely loves and desires for humanity.
We need to change. But what can we really do to change this?
If you believe that children are a burden like I used to, I would firstly pray about it. That's what I did. Thus, I no longer believe that children are a burden the way society wants us to believe they are. I am slowly and surely starting to believe that children are a blessing and a gift from God.
Another thing we can do is begin associating with parents and resources that talk about the value kids have added to their lives.
We need to teach the younger generations that children are special. Rather than feeding young generations with media about how horrible raising kids are, we should be teaching them the value of raising children and becoming parents.
Lastly, we need to stop raising entitled children. One of things that has added to my (and many others) dislike of children is honestly, just poorly-trained children. Many children these days lack respect for others and even themselves. The worst part is, parents make excuses for their children's poor behavior, rather than correcting it. This makes for entitled children who believe that the world is owed to them. However, sweet, respectful children bring so much joy to the people around them. These children are the ones that parents should be so proud of!
There is a story in Matthew that talks about the disciples becoming angry that Jesus was "being bothered" by little children. Sound familiar? Don't we, today, also believe that children are nothing but a bother?
But Jesus responds lovingly to the little children and parents, after they were being scolded by the disciples.
One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could lay his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left.
As people who model Jesus, Christians are meant to be like Him in every facet of our lives. This includes our mindset of little kids.
Jesus loved babies and children. He often referenced children and even commended them! He blessed them and prayed for them, and even expected His disciples to be more like them. Jesus didn't think children were a burden. Jesus didn't cringe when children walked by. Rather, Jesus called them "blessed."
We are supposed to be like Jesus. And if Jesus loved children and babies that much, then maybe we need to also change the mindset of how we, as a society, also view children.