“If I could only give one piece of advice to my friends, it would be this.”
“If I could only give my friends advice, it would be this: have children. At least one. But if possible, have 2, 3, 4 … Brothers are our bridge with the past and the safe harbor for the future. But have children.
Children make us better human beings.
What a child does for you no other experience does. Traveling the world transforms you, a successful career is rewarding, independence is delightful. Still, nothing will change you as permanently as a child.
Forget the “having children will leave you penniless” thing. Children make you economically aware, and help you think twice about your consuming habits: you start buying clothes at Renner and not at Calvin Klein, because in the end, it’s just clothes. And last year’s tennis shoes, which are still fresh and comfortable, can last you another 5 years …After all, you have other priorities, and only two feet.
You go to work with more will and dedication; there is a small being totally dependent on you, and that makes you a professional with a drive that other situation would give you. Children make us overcome all limits.
You start to worry about doing something for the world. You start separating garbage, doing community work, using products with less plastic… You are the role model to your child, and nothing can be greater than that.
What you eat matters. You no longer eat chocolate and Coca Cola. Now you go for bananas and water. You take better care of your health: eat the rest of the fruits on your kid’s plate, plant a vegetable garden to have fresh seasoning, no sodas during the week. A child gives you an extra 25 years of longevity.
You come to believe in God and learn how to pray. At your son’s first illness you almost instinctively kneel and ask God to look down upon you. And so, your child teaches you about faith and gratitude as no priest, pastor or religious leader ever could.
You confront your dark side. Your kid decides to bring out his worst side by throwing a scene in the supermarket because he wants those cookies. You feel like screaming. You see yourself as aggressive, impatient, and authoritarian. And so you discover that it is only for love and with love that you educate yourself. You learn to take a deep breath, crouch down, reach out to your child, and see the situation through his tiny little eyes.
A son makes you a more prudent person. You will never drive without a seatbelt, because now you know you shouldn’t die too soon… Who would take care and love your children like you do if you’re not there?! A child makes you want to be alive.
But if you still do not think these motives are worth it, think on that indecipherable thing children have.
Have children to smell their ever-fragrant hair, to have the pleasure having of little arms wrapped around your neck, to hear your name (which will become either “mama” or “papa”) being sung in that shrill little voice.
Have children so you can receive that tight hug when you get home, and feel that you are the most important person in the whole world for that little being. Have children to see them smile like you and walk like your father, and understand the beauty of having a part of you going around the world. Have children to re-learn the delight of a bubble bath, a bowl of water in the heat, playing with a dog, and eating mango without any concern about not getting your hands (and clothes) dirty while doing it.
It’s too little what you will teach. Have children just because you have so much to learn. Have children because the world needs us to be better
This article was originally published in the Portuguese edition of Aleteia and has been translated/adapted here for an English speaking audience.