Sunday, 30 June 2013

For ye are living poems...

Come to me, O ye children!
And whisper in my ear
What the birds and the winds are singing
In your sunny atmosphere.

For what are all our contrivings,
And the wisdom of our books,
When compared with your caresses,
And the gladness of your looks?

Ye are better than all the ballads
That ever were sung or said;
For ye are living poems,
And all the rest are dead.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Oh I do so love Longfellow...

The reason I post this poem is because I read an interesting BBC article about procuring happiness and those things which researchers have determined cause us humans most happiness.  I concurred with most of the article until I came to this part:

Having children lowers your happiness levels, but your happiness increases when they grow up and leave home.
Shocking.  I wonder why?  From the very day they were born my children have brought me the most joy.  Honestly, I never knew such consuming love before.  The moment my first child was born I was overwhelmed.  Joy doesn't even describe it. Basically, they make me unbelievably happy.

I am confused.  I wonder why so many are made less happy by their children?

I rather think it is not children that cause unhappiness for people, I think it is selfishness.  Many people today have bought into the lie that in order to be happy you need oodles of money (something children eat-up at an alarming rate), you need oodles of leisure time (something that children have a lot of but parents have very little), and you need a high flying career (something that is certainly made less easy by the birth of a very small and demanding personage)...and of course if you can be visibly socially and politically active too even better (you don't get much praise for that meal you cooked again for your family and the toilet floor you just cleaned because one of them missed the bowl again!).

It is also remarkable that I should read this today after watching a short performance by the In Yer Face theatre company at the Urban Hero Awards last night.  The skit concerned a middle-class couple who, because of high earnings, had lost their Child Benefit.  Due to this loss of income the couple had decided to sell their child on eBay because he was no longer a lucrative investment.  It was funny, but with an important point.  Society today treats children today like a commodity.   But here's the truth, if you have a child they are your responsibility - not the government, not the school, not the rest of the world - your child is your responsibility.

If you have a child, you are responsible to feed them, clothe them and keep them safe; these are the basic needs of any human being.  But being a parent carries an extra responsibility, one which often determines the life course your child will follow - you are responsible to love that child with an unconditional, undistracted, unselfish love.

We all fail in some way as parents, I fail regularly.  I get frustrated by my children, I get cross at them, and sometimes I really, really don't want to get up off my chair and play a game with them when actually I want to play another game of Bejeweled on my phone! *ahem*  But this attitude is wrong and every parent should fight against it in themselves. None of us are perfect, but the overwhelming urge in every parent should be to love their children unconditionally and constantly.  Deep down we all know this, that is why our selfishness makes us so unhappy, because every human has that heavenly spark within them that is doused and quenched when we treat another person as less important than ourselves.  The serpent's deception causes us to blame our children for that unhappiness. 

But from the very beginning, God has sung a different song, a Psalmody of love.

He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children.Praise the LORD! ~Psalm 113:9

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate. ~Psalm 127:3-5

For God, every human from the very moment of conception, and even before, are precious in His sight:

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you,when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.  ~Psalm 139:13-15

God created us with this deep within us, the knowledge that just as we are precious in His sight, so are our children.  And yet His voice is often drowned out by the sinister lies of the serpent.

Children are a gift, a precious gift.  They are like tiny seeds planted in our lives.  They need nurture and care so that they grow straight and tall.  If we treat them like inconvenient annoyances that frustrate our every turn they will grow stunted and bent.  Weighed down by our words, our behaviour, and our countenances, they too will seek happiness in places that they will find neither peace nor joy but only pain, despair, and destructiveness.

For they are living poems and each day another line is added to the poetry of their lives.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. ~Psalm 139:16


  1. You've hit the nail on the head with this one. We were never blessed with children, but I still view them as a gift. Although I will admit that with the lack of parenting today, sadly, most are no longer very pleasant to be around.--Which is not at all their fault, but is true, none-the-less. But to say that you're less happy when you have them and happy once they're grown and gone is just sickening.

    And heart-breaking.....

  2. It is heart breaking indeed. I just cannot fathom it at all. And to think that enough people feel that they are made less happy by their children for it to be significant in a study like this is unbelievable.


  3. I think it's partly because of what Michele points out, that a lot of children are out of control to an abnormal degree. Decades ago a book was written on childrearing and discipline titled *I Want to Enjoy my Children* and though I didn't read it I got the point from the title and from reviews that parents must exercise some authority to create the kind of home in which children can thrive and be the sort of people who bring happiness even at a young age.

    Just this morning this article was going around Facebook, about the benefits - even financial - of large families:

  4. "I rather think it is not children that cause unhappiness for people, I think it is selfishness."

    Wow. You've got that right. I never thought of it that way before, but that really is the problem, isn't it?

  5. Very interesting post. As an ex teacher I feel that all children need the security of parameters.

    Somehow your posts are not coming through on my Friend connect list, not sure why.