Parenting is a sacred task.
It’s a permanent commitment, and the most important job a person could ever undertake; more important than building a house or governing a country. It’s more than full time, it’s 24/7. And like any other job, some don’t qualify for it.
As a parent, it’s not your job to make your child into a carbon copy of you. In fact, I would say that is immoral and reprehensible. Every parent’s ultimate goal should be to make their child better than them, in every way – health, wisdom, morals, etc. You cannot tell your child what to think, you must teach them how to think. There’s a very wide range of personalities out there, and odds are good that your child, whether adopted or biological, will not be very similar to you. They will have different strengths, different weaknesses, different desires, and most importantly, different experiences. This is a person’s life. From beginning to end, it is their life; their entire existence, and if you do anything intentionally that stifles what they want to make of their one and only life, you are not fit to be a parent.
It is not your job to tell them where to go in life, but to protect them while they go where they want to. Sometimes, to protect your children, people have to choose to separate themselves from them. That’s the extent you should be willing to go for your baby. Anything, and I mean anything, it takes to protect them.
If you are religious, don’t force your faith on your child. Don’t even make it a requirement to go to church (or any other religious gatherings). Speaking from personal experience, forcing your faith down your child’s throat will only make them resent that, even if they believe the same as you. On the flipside, if you are not religious, you cannot force your child to not be part of a faith if they desire to. In the end, guaranteed, they will find and choose their own path. I was raised Christian, and for a time I was a devout believer, but I became an atheist. I’m sure a child raised atheist can become a Christian as well. Point is, no matter what you do as a parent, your child will find their own path, with or without faith.
I’ve had many sets of parents to observe throughout my life, having lived with my biological mother, with two foster families, and with two adopted families. Not to mention, friends and relatives who have become parents over the years. I’ve seen a wide variety of parents, and thus, many to learn from.
I was too young to remember what it was like living with my biological mother. What I’ve consistently heard, though, is that she loved us, but could not have been more ill-prepared to be a mother. She slept around, sometimes bringing her boyfriends/one-night stands home. I was one such one-night stand baby, except that the night I was conceived, my mother brought my older siblings to where my bio-father lived, instead of she inviting him over to her house. My mother didn’t have much food around the house, I’ve heard, and the house was hardly ever clean enough to be safe for children. From what I’ve heard, it’s no wonder that we were taken from our mother when I was still an infant.
I was my mother’s 5th child. She didn’t raise her firstborn; she left that responsibility to her own parents. His name’s David, and he actually turned out to be a great guy. The others, though, which includes myself, didn’t turn out so well. Christopher, the second-oldest, turned into a monster before even reaching adulthood, and in my personal opinion, he still is a monster. Anthony always had a good heart – it’s always been the thing I love most about him – but he’s the most emotionally damaged person I’ve ever met, and everything he does, from living like a bum, to being incapable of controlling his anger, are the result, I think, of our upbringing. Anthony wasn’t adopted until he was a teen. Not to mention, when he, our sister Katie, and I were in foster care, he was the oldest (Christopher didn’t live in foster homes with us), which meant he had the most short-lived chance of us all to truly be a carefree child at any point in his life. I have disowned Anthony, because he refuses to address his problems, but I will always love him and equally pity him. As for Katie, I don’t think she’s a good person, and I don’t think the way she turned out has anything to do with our upbringing; I think she would have grown to be exactly the person she is regardless of her past.
The 5 of us have always been divided, whether from distance or from our perspectives. Growing up, Anthony and Katie purposefully started fights with me, harassing me, all because I still loved our mother and didn’t think of Christopher as a monster (until very recently). All of my older siblings are now parents, and in all their cases, except David, that has always worried me. Anthony dumped responsibility of raising his child on his son’s mother, and she dumped the responsibility on her parents. Anthony doesn’t want to do any of the hard day-to-day work of raising his son, he just wants his son to be someone he hangs out with like friends. And my sister now has 3 children. Growing up, she outright told me she wants me to hate our mother and Christopher, antagonizing me when I refused (because I actually have a heart); she’s dumped financial responsibility of raising her kids on her adoptive mom; she always gets in relationships/knocked up with the wrong kinds of men (like our mother); she is racist toward white people (her ex-boyfriend once told me, “Don’t say her kids are white, because she’ll get PISSED.” [even though her kids are mostly white]); and I could go on.
I often wonder just how disgusted some of my siblings would be with their lives and how they ‘raise’ their children if we had grown up in a healthy, stable home. Truly, it’s baffling how I’m the only one who is disgusted with their lifestyles. I’ve been appalled with myself at times whenever I see anything I’ve done even minutely resemble something my relatives have done. Observing my siblings, and my mother, for all my life, I’ve developed a deep, intense desire to be a parent – an adoptive parent – but I’m equally terrified of failing as a parent. What if my child runs away one night and gets hit by a car? What if one day I was using bleach, I forgot to move it to a safe place, and my child drank some of it? What if they’re diagnosed with a rare disease and I don’t have the means to treat them for it, financially and/or mentally? I’m fully aware that accidents happen, nobody’s perfect, and some things are out of our control. Still, I’m terrified of these possibilities. I’d jump off a waterfall to rescue my baby; I’d distract a homocidal maniac with a machine gun just to give my child a few more seconds to escape the danger. I’d do anything for my baby, but I don’t want my best to not be enough….
All my life, I’ve heard that my mother has been mentally unstable, but I’ve also heard, and fully understood, that when she lost us kids, her mental stability fractured even more. Of course it did. Any parent who loses their kids would be permanently damaged from that experience. That’s part of the reason I used to not hold my mother’s issues against her.
Ultimately, what I’m trying to get at is this: I’ve seen kids without permanent homes, without safe homes, and without competent parents all my life, and it’s instilled an intense desire in me to do something about it. Thousands of kids, just in my state alone, need homes and struggle to get them. Hell, even the home I was finally adopted into was a horrible choice on the state’s part. My adoptive parents didn’t understand a damn thing about me, nor what I had been through. I understand. I’ve been there. I currently have the most fulfilling job of my life thus far, because I get to drive troubled kids to school and talk to them about their struggles. One kid in particular has confided a lot of her struggles in me, and that was only after driving her to school about 3 times. So now, I can speak from first-hand experience that having an adult in your life who understands is infinitely better, even if you only see them for moments at a time. I sure as hell could have used that when I was a kid; my siblings too.
Children are, and always will be, the future of mankind. They are what is holy and sacred. Precious above all other things. Even if you’re one of those people who hate being in proximity to kids in general, you still have to agree with that. They must be provided for, protected, and properly instructed. They are our most valuable natural resource as a species. This is why raising children is the most important job in the world, and this is why I shamelessly judge people completely as people based on how they care for their children. If you’re a shit parent, you’re a shit human being.
I will never strike my kid, no matter how much they misbehave. There are other ways to discipline than inflicting physical pain.
I will not teach my child, “There is no god,” even though that’s what I believe. I will leave the door open for them to form their own theories on the bigger questions about life.
I will never let my child go hungry or question if they will even have another meal that day or not.
I will seize every opportunity to impart as much wisdom as I can upon my child, even if it’s wisdom that I am yet to abide by myself.
My child will be taught to love what is good and understand what is evil. I will not teach hate, even toward things that I personally believe should be hated, like evil. They will know that love is always greater than hate. I can only hope they will agree.
If they turn out to be gay, or religious, I will not disown them in any way. There is nothing inherently wrong with either. It’s despicable that parents anywhere in the world do this.
I will teach them to be strong, but never hostile nor stubborn. To be able to defend themselves physically, but to also be strong in ways of social matters. I will encourage them to stand for what is right without wavering, while also listening to different viewpoints.
I won’t only be their parent, I will be their friend. I will respect them, not interact with them like they are inferior. I will speak to them like another adult; one who simply hasn’t had as many experiences as I have. Whatever they want to learn or talk about is open for discussion.
They will not be my property, they will be my responsibility. Raising them will be a sacred task, not an burdensome obligation.