The Problem with Child Shaming? …It’s Not the Children

Hate is going by a new tag these days: shaming. And there’s this movement among young women and couples. You may have heard of it. They call themselves the “childfree” to distinguish from the childless (who do want but have not yet conceived/adopted children). What exactly is their mission? To stay free from the burden of children, to be childless, by choice, for life. If it had been popular around 15 years ago, I would have been among their number.

As a teenager and young adult, I didn’t want to have my own children. I certainly wasn’t searching for a hookup, or my soulmate, or to get married let alone wanting to subject myself to the consequences. Then I met God. By random happenstance, I met my best friends, two of whom truly showed me the love and grace of Christ. I still wasn’t looking for anyone of those close relationships but they found a way into my heart. Fast forward almost 10 years, I had been married to one of those best friends almost 6 years and was in the delivery room for the all-natural birth of our first son (don’t worry, I asked for the meds pretty early for the second one). I found out (and still am learning from the perspective of a parent) that denying the self was the way to freedom.

One thing about the trend today is that some are claiming their reason for choosing to be childfree is that they (proudly) “hate” children. It’s not really a child problem–it’s a heart problem. Hate is a tainting of the heart. Hate is not a disregard or apathy towards a person or group of people. No, it’s so much worse. It’s directing, targeting all this negative emotion towards someone who’s not personally done anything to earn it. It’s the opposite of love and grace because it’s a preemptive strike against an unarmed, unknowing opponent.

Grace seeks out the enemy for the purpose of extending the hands of friendship, giving a touch of unexpected love.

And the biggest problem with child shaming is that it’s making me take a hard look at myself. I’ve realized that I, too, probably hated children and the parents who bore them. But then, I think I hated everyone. Being born into a free-choice world, people are bound to make hurtful choices, even if it is unintentional. I can’t say that I am healed from all of my hurt and my hate, but there has been improvement and there is always the hope. Who is the healer of broken hearts? Who gives us hope for our tomorrows?

Not friends, nor husband, or even (mostly) adorable children. They can all point in the right direction, but they are not the source of hope. They cannot give life. They need us to bring life into our relationships. No, there is only one who can renew hope, give life, bring healing to hate, day after day.

“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’”     John 7:38

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