2.6.2013

How To Raise A Human

We’re nowhere near it yet, but M and I have always known we wanted to have kids.  I think we’ll be pretty good parents; we love each other, we’re active, we like to take on new challenges. I don’t spend much time thinking about being a mother, really. I just sort of assume that it will happen at some point, and we’ll figure it out as we go along. Once in a while, though, I come across something that makes me nervous about whether I’ll be  able to shape my child’s behavior enough.

That sounds really creepy, but I don’t mean it in a “Mommy Dearest” way. I don’t care if my child rejects ballet class or the piano, or even if they refuse to eat sushi. (That one would sting, but I’d get over it). But I just get so stressed about the idea of having a kid where . . . and I’m not sure this will make sense . . . there’s no there there.

I see a lot of vacancy in people. I’m not going to go into a whole “The Greatest Generation” rant, partially because Tom Hanks already drove that one home, but mostly because I don’t think it’s true. I don’t think there’s anything particularly wrong with our generation. We probably have an equal number of saints and ne’er-do-wells as every group who came before. But I really do think there’s a phenomenon (especially among men) of . . . lack of sense of self. A lot of people just seem to be missing the capacity for internal propulsion, the ability to extend themselves, to make themselves vulnerable in any way.

I’m terrified of raising a kid like that. Some of it’s manners, like teaching your son to open doors or your daughter to say “Thank you” when someone opens hers. But what about the stuff that isn’t behavior modification? How do you make sure your child is brave enough to smack-talk a bully or take the CPA exam? How do you ensure that your kid doesn’t always take the easy way out of things?

And I’m not talking about only wanting to raise children who run before dawn, get straight A’s, and head straight to med school. Be an artist, future kid! But be so into your art that you want to study the movement’s forefathers and spend your waitressing paycheck on canvases. Be a clown, for all I care, but do something that contributes even the smallest spark of utility to another human being.

I’m not even close to figuring my life out. But I do feel like I was raised with a line in the sand, one that signified my parents’ expectations about how hard I would try (to be a good person, to push myself). Somewhere along the way, that line was assimilated, and now it’s part of my DNA. How does that happen? I don’t want to fail at that crucial step.

Matt and Saoirse

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  • http://www.allthethingsblog.com Amanda

    I hear you! The hubs and I are talking more seriously about future children and it’s such a valid point – we’re both very driven, type A professionals. What if that part inside both of us cancels each other out and we end up with a kid who doesn’t care? Is that even possible? I hope not!

  • M

    TY for pic where my arm is closer to the camera than anything else.

    @Amanda. Impossible. Your most likely scenario is an A+ child. :)

    • http://www.jbound.com Juleson

      Anytime, yo. And Amanda, I definitely agree with M.

  • http://pinkoclock.blogspot.com Megan @ Pink O’Clock

    So well said, and I totally get it–it’s a big fear of mine when it comes to raising potential future children, too. Thanks for sharing this.

    • http://www.jbound.com Juleson

      Glad to hear I’m not the only one who struggles with it :)

  • http://www.bereadybravely.com Naomi

    I read that article too and it made me feel like something sad is happening to our cultural landscape. I’m a few months away from being a mom, and I am terrified of how I’m going to define that “line” as you put if for my child. Too far out and they might miss it altogether, to close in and it could stifle them…

    • http://www.jbound.com Juleson

      It’s tricky. Maybe there’s something about having the actual child around that makes it all make more sense. I’m sure you’ll rock it.

  • http://humblefoodie.com Alicia

    Okay, take this with a grain of salt because I’m light years away from having kids, but I really think that the fact you’re already thinking about how to raise passionate, engaged, and dare-I-say badass kids is a good sign that they will get there. Kids learn so much through observation. If they grow up in a home with adults who pursue their calling, spend time reflecting, and often take on new challenges, they will be more likely to learn those behaviors over time. As you mentioned, you learned about standards and hard work from your parents, so you’ll remember their effective lessons and be totally capable of passing them down!

    • http://www.jbound.com Juleson

      Thanks, Alicia. You’re right! We can totally do this…in a little while. haha

  • http://twocupsofhappy.blogspot.com Janelle @ Two Cups of Happy

    I think about having kids with my love a lot. I’ve always known I wanted to be a mom someday, but I can’t say that I’ve ever considered that my child might have a lack of drive or self-awareness. I think I’m more concerned that I’ll pass on my bad habits/neuroticisms to them. Haha. I have a list of things to “fix” aka work on before having a baby. Thanks for the comment on my blog!

    • http://www.jbound.com Juleson

      I think we all have different crazy we’re worried about passing on :) Thanks for stopping by!

  • http://shoandtellblog.com Shoko

    when i used to talk about having kids with my ex-boyfriend (we were together long enough to talk about those things!) we always said, “our kids will be creative and interesting and happy and driven because WE are all of those things.” and that was comforting :)

    • http://www.jbound.com Juleson

      Assuming the positive is really a much better way of looking into the future. I think I’m good at it most of the time, but occasionally I have my doubt moments. I’m sure your kids will be wonderful :)

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