The burden of parenting
Sometimes you just don’t feel like bothering. You don’t feel like being responsible or working hard or even being smart. But then you take a look at the children you have to raise, and, if you allow yourself a single sober moment to reflect on what it would mean for you to fail in your duties, you suddenly realize that you have to find the wherewithal to give a darn.
These children need us. They may not think so, but they do. They may not always be appreciative of that fact, but they do. They need us like the trees need rain, and we must be there for them. They need our protection and nourishment. They need our guidance and training. They need our love and compassion. They need our discipline and forgiveness.
We must be ever so careful that our business doesn’t turn into their neglect. We cannot be about doing more for them than we do with them. What we put on them is far less important than what we put in them. What we show them is much longer lasting than what we tell them. How we treat them is abundantly more significant than how we entertain them.
It is the fool who would say that raising these children is a light matter. It is perhaps the heaviest burden a soul can bear. To be responsible for the shaping of their thoughts, attitudes, sense of self, beliefs and humanity is no small thing. It is a burden to have to feed, clothe, shelter, educate, nurse, nurture and guide them for years and years and years, and the burden of your love and hopes for their eternal wellbeing never ends. This is not a job for children; it is a job for adults. The boy may be father to the man, but he was never intended to be the father of the man.
If we are wise, we will not neglect the early days when they are young trees easy to bend. If we are wiser, we will repent if we have done so and do all in our power to seek them out for a second chance at doing them good. In the end, all our doings may not save them from a choice or choices that leave them wounded, but it will save us from the regret of knowing that we did not do enough to help it not to be so.
The burden of parenting may be the heaviest of all, but it is also the most fulfilling of all. To see a boy become a man with stature among men, not for what he possesses but for what he nobly purposes, is a gift. To see a girl become a woman full of graces that light the path of all her peers is a Garden of Eden to the parched soul. Yes, parenting is a burden, but bless the soul who carries it with virtue and grace.
• Zhivargo Laing is a Bahamian economic consultant and former Cabinet minister who represented the Marco City constituency in the House of Assembly.