Shopping with four children can be an art form. I was leaving the department store one day with the baby in one hand while pushing the stroller with the other, and my other children clinging onto the stroller. As the doors automatically flung open, a surprised woman exclaimed, “oh my Lord! You’ve got your hands full!!!” I smiled back at her, remembering a remark someone often made: “better full than empty!”
Despite difficulties that accompany raising children, it doesn’t take much to realize that children are blessings. The indescribable joy of having a child outweighs sleepless nights and endless diaper changes. The first smile. The first word. The first step. The first prayer. The first book read. An act of thoughtfulness. These tiny surprises bring smiles to a tiring day and remind parents “it is worth it.”
Children also bless us in daily mundane activities. We discover the true meaning of self-sacrifice. Dr. Scott Hahn recounts, “I never realized how selfish I was until I had my first child.” There are things we do for our children that we would never dream of doing for others. Changing a diaper and getting vomited on top the list. Self-sacrifice is inherent in child rearing. We give up our time, our comforts, and our personal space to accommodate our children’s needs.
Children further bless us by increasing our reliance on God. There are times when the home suddenly transforms into an understaffed emergency room, with parents scampering from one child emergency to another; and expressing gratitude for getting through each hour of the day. I am blessed to be surrounded by wise mothers of large families who often say, “I rely on God’s grace to raise my children.” Child rearing is a humbling experience, to say the least. We exercise our ability to apologize when we foul up, and realize the importance of depending more on God’s wisdom and strength instead of our own.
Perhaps this is God’s grand design for family life: that we, parents, become more self-sacrificing in everyday Christian life; and that we grow in our faith and truly depend on God to raise the children He has entrusted to us.
Additionally, children are inherent blessings to each other. Kimberly Hahn often emphasizes that a sibling is the best physical gift parents can give a child. In our home, my children refer to each other as best friends. And rightfully so. Best friends bring out the best in each other, know how to push each others’ buttons, and support each other. Siblings are companions in life. Seeing how my parents relate to siblings in their old age and how I relate to my own, I see God’s wisdom in gifting families with siblings. My child once said that the best day of his life was when he had a sibling. I could not agree more. Thank God for the sibling revelry they share. Thank God for the blessings children are in our lives!
Tricia Olea Santos, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
Adjunct Assistant Professor
Callier Center for Communication Disorders
School for Behavioral and Brain Sciences
University of Texas at Dallas