Thursday, September 13, 2007

The other side of Parenthood...

I got a very funny email about the most challenging and rewarding aspects of being a parent. The first half of the email was about the different ways to get prepared. A few snippets:

"Can you stand the mess children make? To find out, smear peanut butter onto the sofa and jam onto the curtains. Hide a fish finger behind the stereo and leave it there all summer. Stick your fingers in the flowerbeds then rub them on the clean walls. Cover the stains with crayons. How does that look?"

"Men: to prepare for paternity, go to the local pharmacist, tip the contents of your wallet on the counter, and tell the pharmacist to help himself. Then go to the supermarket. Arrange to have your salary paid directly to their head office. Go home. Pick up the paper. Read it for the last time."

Of course, the last half of the email painted a much prettier picture of the joys of parenthood and how wonderful it is to relive being a child, with your child :). It's interesting that couples who want to adopt a child are made to go through a rigorous training and questioning and monitoring of their skills as a parent, whereas those who get married/pregnant never go through such rounds of questioning to be assessed of their skills as a good parent. Is it because it's assumed that people implicitly know to take good care of their own child as opposed to a child that was technically born to someone else? There is no doubt a stronger bond of love is implicitly born when you give birth, and the bond is arguably unique. But how much you love a child and how effective you are as a parent are not necessarily the same.

Having a baby is like getting a fresh batch of wet clay in your hands that is extremely impressionable with the most minute press of your fingers, and that hardens every hour, and you have only so many years and only so much time before you can mould it in "good" shape. You also need to know the and what defines a "good" shape. You don't want to shape them based on how you are shaped and later on hear your child complain that you are responsible for how they are today :(.

Bringing another being into this world carries such a thick tag of responsibility. It is true that no one can specialize being a parent before deciding to have a child, but it irks me to see babies being brought into this world just because two people are married, regardless of whether they are at a stage to provide for the child. At this current age, we have no pressing need to populate the Earth, so why not put some thought into what it requires to be a parent before plunging into it.

There should be an underlying meaning and reason to our decisions than merely following the routine, especially in a case where we are responsible for another being's proper growth and welfare. It is extreme to have a qualifying exam on parenthood before a wedding or childbirth, but I feel it is realistic if one sets some rules and engages in some form of introspection to evaluate how equipped and prepared they are.