Reading an article in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal entitled, “The Case for More Kids,” gave me the impression its real headline should have been, “Having Kids Isn’t as Bad as You Might Think, but It’s Still Pretty Bad.” A sunny, optimistic view of family it was not.
Maybe I am overly sensitive but phrases such as, “every additional child makes parents just 1.3 percentage point less likely to be ‘very happy’,” and “child No. 1 does almost all the damage” didn’t leave me with a warm, fuzzy feeling.
The piece would leave most readers wondering why in the world anyone has any children. It did not have this effect on me. My children have brought immeasurable joy to my life (despite occasional periods where I need to remind myself of the long term picture). I was further inoculated from the article’s baleful proposition because I had spent the previous Sunday with parents who delight in their families.
That day, my husband and I both had the privilege of speaking at the second annual National Orthodox Jewish Homeschooling Conference in Baltimore, MD. This event brought together mothers and fathers from around the country who are a part of a growing group of religious Jewish homeschooling families. My husband spoke about stepping outside convention by removing our daughter from the school we had ourselves founded. For my part, I tried to give newer homeschoolers reassurance that down the road their children would be well-balanced and happy members of the larger community.
But we received more from the conference than we gave. Firstly, I delighted in meeting women whom I have known as members of an online support group, but never before had the opportunity to greet face to face. Getting to know them was such fun. Over the years, we have shared questions, suggestions, difficulties and triumphs and it was a thrill to actually talk in person.
But more importantly, the day was an opportunity to be surrounded by folks who are passionate about parenting. While this passion for parenting isn’t exclusive to homeschoolers, it is overwhelmingly present in the homeschooling community. Rather than adding up the financial cost of having children as the author of Saturday’s newspaper article did, these parents count the blessings. Rather than seeing children as an emotional drain, these parents view their kids as a source of emotional pleasure. Most importantly, rather than asking, “What’s in it for me,” these parents see children as a gift from God to be treasured.
There was a great deal of practical homeschooling advice offered over the course of the conference, which is no longer relevant to my daily life. Nevertheless, the day provided an injection of fun and optimism along with a reminder that there are still young parents who view having children through a bright lens rather than with a jaundiced eye.