Many have heard of “yuppies” but have you heard of “dinkies”? The first type refers to those young urban professionals who are financially secured. Dinkies (double income but no kids) refer to those married couples having no intention or unwilling to have children.
Look at nature – birds, bees, trees, plants and all other living things created by God. Is there a specie that does not reproduce? Every God’s creature, even a single-celled amoeba, procreates for the survival of their specie. Yet why some married couples, capable of being parents, refused to have children?
“Freedom to travel and to enjoy life” is a frequent answer. Other reasons include less expenses, less responsibilities and fewer problems – in short less headaches. A few crudely replied,” We simply don’t like children” as if they have never been children themselves. Some argue that the old Chinese saying, “raising children to safeguard our old age,” no longer applies as they saw the presence of neglected parents around.
They are absolutely right. Bringing up children involves countless sacrifices and giving up many of life’s enjoyment. A parent’s responsibilities start from a child’s conception onwards to adulthood and oftentimes beyond. From a purely economic viewpoint, investing the money spent in raising and educating a child could easily provide for a comfortable retirement.
All these reasons centre on avoiding responsibility and maximizing enjoyment in life. Barring any justifiable reason, there is only one appropriate word to describe this self-centred attitude – selfishness.
The reason to raise and to sacrifice for our children can also be summarized simply in one word – love – the opposite of selfishness.
Love for God, our Creator by following Christ’s teachings. “Married couples should regard it as their proper mission to transmit human life and to educate their children; they should realize that they are thereby cooperating with the love of God the Creator. They will fulfill this duty with a sense of human and Christian responsibility.” (CCC #2367)
Love for our spouse, i.e. to bring forth the fruits of a sacred marriage. “Fecundity (producing or capable of producing offspring) is a gift, an end of marriage, for conjugal love naturally tends to be fruitful.” Children are the fruits of our love for our spouse and fulfillment of our marriage. The Catechism teaches “A child does not come from outside as something added on to the mutual love of the spouses, but springs from the very heart of that mutual giving, as its fruit and fulfillment.” (CCC #2379)
Look at those who intentionally shrink from their responsibility of having children. They may look happy and carefree but can they really find joy in their lives? I felt sorry for a former colleague suffering from mid-life emotional problems. Adamantly, he ridiculed the formality of marriage and refused to have children. I wonder if his newest Mercedes limousine, latest audio-visual equipment, memories of world travel and investment portfolio could take the place of children – God’s gift that he had refused – in giving joy to him and his spouse.
Danny, a friend who recovered fully from cancer, told me that the support of his wife and two daughters gave him the courage to withstand the rigors of chemotherapy and other pains. He praised God for the most precious gift, his children.
As for those neglected parents in their old age, they have done their duties for God and for their children. Whether their children will fulfill their own towards their parents is another matter. In comforting neglected parents, my wife, Mary, explained, “Consider the joy and happiness that your child had given to you as consolation for your past sacrifices and love. Be glad that you have done your duty.”
“A child is not something owed to one, but is a gift. The ‘supreme gift of marriage’ is a human person.” However, those couples who did not receive this gift need not despair. “(They) should unite themselves with the Lord’s Cross, the source of all spiritual fecundity. They can give expression to their generosity by adopting abandoned children or performing demanding services for others.” (CCC#2379)
Before receiving the gift of children at his old age, Abraham asked God, “What will you give me for I continue childless?”(Gen 15:2) Remember, sometimes God acts in a mysterious way. Spouses suffering from infertility may not realize that God’s gift comes in many ways and at different time. Instead of giving them children, He may have given other gifts. Have faith and follow His will.
For those who are struggling to support large families, they can find solace in our Church’s teaching: “Sacred Scripture and the Church’s traditional practice see in large families a sign of God’s blessing and the parents’ generosity (CCC#2373). Our children are indeed a blessing and a gift from God.