Last year Time magazine featured a cover story, “The Childfree Life: When Having It all Means Not Having Children.” I found it quite sad, and even disturbing.
The idea promoted by a growing segment in our society and reflected by the article is that to be truly fulfilled, you can’t have children. The joy of having kids, they say, isn’t worth the sacrifice.
The article focused more on women, but men, too, are increasingly hearing the message that having offspring is a hindrance to achieving the good life.
I couldn’t disagree more with the idea that kids get in the way of our happiness. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Speaking as the father of two boys, our children often provide the greatest joys in our lives.
Perhaps those of us who are fathers don’t have, as the Time article pointed out, the money to sample all of life’s luxuries. That cash goes to braces and ballet lessons and baseball equipment. Perhaps we don’t have time to enroll in language classes; we’re too busy making sure our kids learn proper English.
But when our children walk for the first time or laugh at our jokes or bring us delight in ways that we can’t quantify, we know that kids don’t stand in the way of our happiness. Very often, they’re the source of it.
To say yes to children doesn’t mean submission to stifling drudgery and repetition, as some childless advocates would have us believe. Rather, it’s the introduction to 18 to 20 years of endless variety.
Through our children, we can look at the miracle of God’s creation through young eyes again -- to see the world in all its wonder. We share life and engage with it in ways we’d never imagined.
Men, when we say yes to fatherhood, we don’t shut doors -- we open them.
To be sure, some of the doors we open when we become fathers aren’t all that fun to step through. All the joy of being a dad comes with pain and stress.
We suffer frustrations along the way. There are late-night feedings and messy diapers. Screaming in the grocery store and uncomfortable conferences with teachers. The monetary expenses that come with raising a child.
Clearly, parenthood isn’t for wimps.
Fatherhood, I’ve said, is all about sacrifice. But in my mind, sacrifice makes being a dad so worthwhile.
The time and money we spend, the patience and care we show with our children … they are all investments that pay huge returns. Perhaps those returns don’t always register on an economic spreadsheet. Yet fathers know the value.
God made men to be fathers. And when we embrace that reality, that gift, we find new happiness.
In a way, new life.
In some respects, good dads live for their children. We give them the best of us – our hopes, our principles, our experience, our love – and ask them to carry it with honor, to pass on those teachings to their children and to their children’s children. We do this knowing our contributions matter deeply to our children.
This is how God made us. To be a good dad isn’t just something we should do; it’s something we were built to do. And because He designed us in this way, we’re bound to love it when we do it. How could it be any other way?
Jim Daly is president of Focus on the Family and author of The Good Dad: Becoming the Father You Were Meant to Be (Zondervan 2014). Learn more at JimDalyBlog.com or FocusontheFamily.com.