QUESTION: My wife and I are both college graduates, we both have well paying careers and have been married for six years. Now that we are established is the time to decide to have a family – or not. We’re concerned about world conditions: poverty, terrorism, prejudices among and between ethnicities and crime, which seems to be escalating. To bring a child or children into this chaos seems unjust, and yet we both love children.
Is there a way to look at world conditions in a spiritual way that will help us decide what to do?
~ Potential Parents
Dear Potential Parents,
Deciding to become parents has never been an easy choice, and many people through the years have asked whether it is just to bring a child into the world with all its risks. But as much as it seems that the world today is worse than it has ever been, the ultimate decision has to be a personal one for the two of you. The real question for you and your wife is if you can provide a nurturing environment for a child and if you truly want to be parents.
As I can personally attest, becoming a parent is both a challenging and rewarding experience – physically, psychologically and spiritually. So be sure you have spent a lot to time talking to each other about your decision and your shared readiness to embark on this life-changing path. However there are a number of important things that can help you decide. One is to learn as much as you can about the responsibilities of parenting. There is a lot of information, as well as classes and other resources, available. Further, you can cultivate a support-network of family and friends who would be there for you and your children (or child) to help you nurture and protect them against many of the possible dangers they might encounter. I would also suggest a religious community for you and your potential family – a place where you can find encouragement, learning, and spiritual development.
I know that I have not given you a conclusive answer, but I hope that I have provided you with some ideas to consider. And I also hope that, whatever decision you make, you will experience fulfillment in your lives, despite the many uncertainties and dangers in our world.
Rev. Dr. Betty Stapleford, Minister
Unitarian Universalist Church of the Verdugo Hills - La Crescenta
Dear Potential Parents,
The hesitation you share in bringing up children with the condition of our world today is common. It does seem daunting in some respects to think of how we might protect our children from the ills of the world. This has been a concern for generations past that somehow ends up being settled in the human spirit. The desire to create and raise family comes from deep within each person, especially when having children becomes a planned part of life.
Your desire to have and raise children should not be altered by the world’s challenges. The world always has and always will have challenges. How we choose to process and respond to those challenges is most important. I would suspect each of you would fervently protect and guide your children through their lives with great care and love. Yours spirits will be imprinted on the spirits of your children. Your spirits undeniably desire community within family. Family, which you will create, fulfills and gives greater purpose to the joining of your two spirits. Your spirits rise up together to proclaim why you should have children, not why not.
May God bless, enrich and affirm your hearts and spirits together with the joy of raising children.
Mark Yeager, Senior Pastor
Verdugo Hills Church
Director, Chaplain Services
YMCA of the Foothills
*National Senior Youth Pastor
Director, Youth Ministries
Cleansing Stream International
QUESTION: I left home when I was 18 because my father was extremely abusive to our family. He was an alcoholic. Although I have stayed in touch with my mother, I never saw or spoke to my father again, who abandoned our family five years after I left. He recently passed away, 27 years later, and I did not go to his funeral. Although most of my friends accept my decision, I have one person I consider a very good friend telling me she thinks I was wrong. Was I?
~ Not My Father’s Daughter
Dear Not My Father’s Daughter,
I hear your concern and distress over your friend’s feelings regarding attending your father’s funeral. It sounds like you have given this a lot of thought over the years. However, if there is any doubt on your part whether you made the right decision it might be well to write a letter to him, outlining all the feelings that you have stored over the years regarding the relationship. Get all of it out. Let it go because it is in the past. Those feelings of anger and resentment are poison.
When you are through, say a prayer of forgiveness for your father and for yourself, and burn the letter. As an alcoholic, your father had his own demons to fight. You do not need to take them on or try to justify them. You certainly don’t want them to run your life today. The past is the past, and whether you went to the funeral or not, that is in the past also.
As for your friend, you might thank your friend for sharing her concern and let that go, too. Spirit always gives us the right solution to any problem if we listen to that still small voice inside.
Center Spiritual Living -
Dear Not My Father’s Daughter:
The bottom line right now is you cannot change your decision. Fretting over it, feeling guilt, these are emotions that change nothing and only torment us.
This one friend is one opinion out of many. So I will throw my opinion in, too.
When a parent has been extremely abusive and was not life giving, many people decide not to celebrate their death because the relationship was not really present. He was your biological father, but not your “dad.” Instead of focusing overmuch on one person’s opinion, trust your decision and look at all the friends that did support it. Abuse is a relationship killer, which your story denotes.
Remember, even if it were not the best decision, God throws our sins as far as the east is from the west – and He remembers them no more. Free yourself from this second-guessing and move on into the life God has given you. The guilt should’ve been your father’s, not yours.
Kimberlie Zakarian, LMFT Kimberlie Zakarian Therapy, Inc. firstname.lastname@example.org