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Whose Kids?
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While walking near my home, a neighbor introduced herself. She was wondering where my adult son, who often accompanied me, was. I explained he had a job on the other side of town, and moved to avoid a long commute.  

This led to an exchange about our children—my three sons and her son and daughter. All are adults and have careers. All five have (or in the case of my youngest was working on) college degrees. Hers were a little older than mine. Both were married and had children. Then she said something that surprised me. “I just don’t understand my daughter,” she said. “She has a master’s degree in finance, and she is just staying home to raise her children. It is such a waste.”

I asked about why, and my neighbor told me it was a waste because her daughter was not using her education.

“Isn’t she using it to raise her children?” I asked.

“That’s different.” She replied. “It’s not what she was trained for.”

How strange our society has become.  

Nothing you do in life is more important than raising your children. Not acquisition of goods; not professional achievements; not the number of things on your bucket list you hope to accomplish before you die.

No Pressing Monetary Reason

The neighbor’s daughter had no pressing monetary reason to work. Her husband, a professional, brought home an adequate income. The children were all preschool age. Would the children be better off in day care, or by a college-educated mother who brought them into the world, and wants to be with them?

Yet, instead of being lauded for having her priorities straight, the daughter is criticized for placing her family ahead of her career.  

We all want our children to be successful and productive. No one ever got famous or rich raising their children. There is more to life than accumulating fame and wealth however. On one’s deathbed what is the more common regret: not having spent more time at work, or not having spent more time with your family?

I am not criticizing those who have to work to provide for their children. You do what you must for your family. I do not even criticize those, who having chosen to have children, choose to work rather than to raise them. While not the choice my wife or I made or would make, some children might be better off in day care than raised by parents who would feel resentful “trapped” at home.

Does compassion towards those that cannot stay at home with their children have to lead to condemnation of those that do? It should not.

The good news is, those who are willing to ignore this pressure, and raise their own kids will receive their reward from their own kids. Most will recognize and appreciate their parents’ priorities and—like my neighbor’s daughter—many will model this behavior as adults.

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By Mark N. Lardas. Copyright © 2012 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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