Man, that implies so much. That those who survive the Rubicon of the womb, they were desired,while those who did not, were not. Except it isn’t true. If you look at this world, there are plenty of children who suffer from neglect, from abuse, from the long tentacles of pain of parents who for whatever reason, do not “want” their children. If all children could only exist as long as their parents “wanted” them, most would be dismissed at some point during the ugly years. Some people like Dr. Peter Singer bio-ethicist at Princeton (cough, cough) have gone so far as to advocate this position, that those children deemed lacking in sufficient personhood, i.e. wanting, by their parents, can be legitimately disposed of up through the age of, at last check, two. But I’m sure the number is negotiable if you can make the case.
Want is insufficient. Want does not last forever. Wanting does, but not the want itself. Wants change. Wants fade. Wants are met. New ones take their place. And wants even when sated, do not satisfy forever. You may want a child, but do you want this one…the one you get? What do you Want the child for? If children are only tolerated while they are wanted, what happens when wants fade or change?
Children are the natural byproduct of sex. If we think of ourselves as soil, the seed sometimes falls in soil where there are weeds that choke it off eventually, or are scattered and trampled by the world, or are lost because the roots are too shallow. The difference between the plants which yield 10, 30, 100 fold, is love. Wanted is not what is required, welcome is. Wants are temporary, wants change as life unfolds. Welcome is a state of receiving. Welcome means room has been prepared, come sit, rest, be. Welcome means we will serve. Welcome means, we know these people are not ours, but ours to care for up until adulthood and to love always.
Love demands sacrifice. Children require love, ergo, children require sacrifice. Bad parenting is the absence of correct ordering by the parents, of the sacrifice, placing the demands of the soul on the child or others, rather than the self out of selfishness, ignorance or the misplace of wants over welcoming. Welcoming guests demands a stretching of the home, of the heart. Wanting does not.
But our society has swallowed the myth of wanted children over welcoming.
In the past 60 years of prolific birth control use and 40 years of abortion, has the rate of neglect and abuse gone down? No. Have we ceased as a society to treat children as accessories to our glory? No. Have the children of subsequent generations since the liberating of sexuality to choice and a woman’s empowerment and control of her biology felt awash in love, all wanted? No.
Indeed, Jesus tells us not simply to allow children to come to him, but that whoever welcomes a little child, welcomes me. Not wants. Welcomes.
We suffer from a two-fold problem in this society because of the agitation against the existence of children.
First, we become more infantile in our own tastes and preferences as a society as we no longer have the demand placed upon us as a whole, to grow up. We pad every experience to avoid all actual possibility of pain, our art, food, music, entertainment seems permanently stuck in a mode that requires no growth, no acquiring of refinement, practice or sacrifice. If there’s a drink that personifies the modern world sensibility, it’s the Venti Caramel Cappuccino with whip and a dash of chocolate that substitutes for a cup of Joe straight. It’s not that we don’t trust anyone over forty, it’s that as a society, we refuse to grow past 14. If you are confused on this point, google anything without a filter, and watch your computer melt from the solicitation of appetites. Our culture is designed for the adolescent brain and that level of responsibility.
Second, as we only want as a society, we become less capable of dealing with children, of tolerating their curiosity, their existence, be it in restaurants, parks, malls or museums. They are to be bubble wrapped with 24-7 Sprout TV until they reach an age for school such that we can drop them off for breakfast and pick them back up for dinner and bedtime. We no longer allow for down time or free time or ordinary time, there are activities and quality time and play dates. Everything requires a snack and a stimulus, nothing is in and of itself, sufficient. We define our time, our relationships with our children in terms of wants, rather than welcomes.
We do not allow our children to simply be, because we are uncomfortable ourselves with merely being. They were wanted. What were they wanted . . . for? This question was not asked at their creation, nor is it asked now . . . so we have a world peopled with children who do not know their purpose, only that they want, and like their parents, think wants should be satisfied. They also want satisfaction, and do not understand why they never feel full, never feel satisfied.
Indeed, if we want to know how we are to parent, we need only look at the father in the Prodigal son, his response to his children is always to welcome them in, to give them what they need, what they ask, and more. It is when the children feed only their wants, that they rob themselves of their ability to enjoy the gifts of their father, but the gifts are given in abundance readily none the less.
So the response to “all children, wanted children” is “welcome all children” all the days of their lives.
Photography: See our Photographers page.