Recollections by Richard Bleil
Children have a way of touching our hearts. Some years ago, when I taught, I would wear a sports jacket and a tie. It was a tribute to my father. I was in (as I recall) a grocery store when a charming young girl holding her mother’s hand looked at her mom and said, “Mommy, is he the president of the United States?”
It was so sweet I had to post it on my social media page. No, hardly the president, but it was charming to hear. They have such sweet and naïve innocence that is impossible not to find enchanting.
Recently I was talking with a friend of mine. I didn’t realize that she did this, but apparently, she taught her children some of the observations of other cultures. When I was younger, I often thought of how I wanted to raise my children. I often thought that, regardless of the faith in which my wife wanted to raise them, I would introduce them to other religious philosophies as well. Religious thought is the foundation of so many cultures, and I wanted my children to have respect for people of all faiths, all colors, all cultural backgrounds. My friend did this with her children.
It’s very true that children are not born with prejudices. In their eyes, a child is a child and they’ll love all of them. It has something to do with recognizing that the other children are like them, regardless of skin tone. And yet, something in our society teaches children to grow into suspicious adults. Maybe, if we understood each other better, it could help us overcome these negative tendencies that are so woefully interwoven into the fabric of our society.
As I’ve written recently, now it’s all academic. At my age, women have had their children, and if I could have one, I would be too old to raise them as I would like anyway. No child wants to play catch with a father with a bad hip. From an early age, I’ve always wanted a family, but here I dwell, once again, on the bitter fact that it just can’t happen now.
But I know that most people love children, at least in principle. Many children are having children at the age when I wanted a family. It seems as if there is this belief among young women that they love children so much that they want to have them when they, in my opinion, are far too young. It’s not all fun and games. Having a child is a lot of work. Teenagers with children quickly learn that a child means staying home when their friends go out, long nights of crying and changing diapers, and far more difficulty than they often expect. Yes, children are sweet and adorable and smell good and all of that, but it’s also challenging work, especially to raise them to be good people.
I dated a woman who through rape had a child when she was so young that her parents raised the child to believe that his mother was actually his sister. A woman finding herself in a situation of raising a child alone because should never happen (even in Texas), and in her case she had no choice in the matter. And yet, I’ve overheard high school girls talking about getting pregnant intentionally either in high school or shortly thereafter, without concern of marriage. It’s important for me to state that this is not intended to be an indictment or as judgment on them. Ultimately, it’s their choice, but I have known enough young mothers to realize that the loss of social life, the financial struggles and, if they don’t have a partner, the challenge of doing everything alone creates a burden that is very difficult to overcome. These problems could be alleviated, at least in part, if boys were taught to take responsibility if they father a child, both financially and emotionally, whether or not they marry the mother.
Perhaps I shouldn’t be offering my opinion. I have no children of my own, so my opinion is probably of no more value than that of those whose only training in science is Google speaking on the vaccine. I’m really just discussing some of my observations, and how my heart aches for struggling young mothers. What started as a blog intended to celebrate children, I certainly had no intention of going into the realm of teen parenthood, but here we are. As a society, I do honestly believe that men need to be held responsible for their children.