Passing On and Passing Along

Blaugust 1st 

As I get older I hear a lot more from friends about their desire for children. One friend in particular has developed an obssession with the idea. He tells me constantly that he feels that if he doesn’t have children, he’ll feel like a waste of space. What use is it being here if not to pass on his legacy? Aren’t children the best way to do that? This guy isn’t in any relationship that I’d expect to produce children.

I definitely understand how he feels. Before I had children I remember questioning my own worth to the world, but not because I didn’t have kids. Was I a waste of space? If I’m the only one who cares about my existence, then do I really exist? I could come and go, passing along through this life leaving no traces. The heart of it is feeling like we’re contributing to this crazy place in some way. Without that feeling, it’s easy for life to feel meaningless.

I don’t know that I think having children is the sole solution, though. I think humans crave being mentors and leaders to others. We’re pretty adamant about having a leader and I know I talk with people all the time who are clearly eager to pass on their own knowledge same as you. You know, those people who volunteer information unprompted, or who can’t resist explaining something they know. I’m not very talkative in person, but I love the opportunity to show someone how to do things. That’s why I write game guides. These little things feel like contributions to something. They’re nothing in themselves, but those little tiny pieces of meaning add up. Over the course of a lifetime, teaching fellow humans something – anything – makes us feel fulfilled and purposeful I think. Having children definitely scratches that itch 🙂 Watching them mimic me is magical, seriously magical. I love to walk into a room and see my children doing things when they don’t know I’m watching. Kids really are amazing and I can see why anyone would want to have them.

I told my buddy to adopt, but that’s pretty hard for single parents, especially men. I told him he could volunteer at youth centers, mentoring or being a big brother or something. There’s plenty of opportunities to lead others and mentor. When I think about it, this might be why events like the Newbie Blogger Initiative hold so much meaning for me personally. Community building just feels good, even though it can be exhausting. I think all of us enjoy that sense of community and yearning to pass on your knowledge or to mold some other creature into something valuable is part of the human experience.

Scree Tags: #blaugust #parenthood #mentoring

5 thoughts on “Passing On and Passing Along

  1. Being a parent is one of the best things I’ve ever done. Being a mentor (in particular a volunteer hockey coach) is about as close as I have ever come to that feeling. A few times we’d get up for practice early and leave before the sun came up. Dedication certainly and the rewards are exponentially more than you would think, considering the investment.

    • I feel the same. My children are the best thing thats ever happened to me, ever. Its funny to think that before I met my wife I never really dreamed of having kids at all. I was pretty sure actually that I shouldn’t for all the reasons you guys have read about in the past on my childhood. But our first was unplanned, so even as we had children I wasnt expecting to.

      I do think we all find fulfillment in raising and shaping younger generations. Thats why I think mentoring is such a crucial component to any community. As they say, it takes a village to raise a kid. Parents are never alone in that process. Everyone your child sees is teaching them something.

  2. “I don’t know that I think having children is the sole solution, though.”

    On behalf of those of us who don’t want kids, thanks for not being TOTALLY convinced that our lives have no meaning. 😛

    I have no doubt that having kids is amazing and gives your life a purpose, but it’s totally possible to have a meaningful life without them through love and art and travel and all kinds of good things. One choice is not better than the other, but they certainly both have their benefits.

    • @Liore: Totally agree. thats what so hard about talking to this friend of mine, because he sees my children as the only solution. It’s fine to yearn for children, but I don’t think its good that he feels his life is meaningless if he doesn’t have children. Still, I totally understand where he’s coming from too.

  3. I’m on both sides of the fence. I recall being a teen/young adult and thinking that I don’t ever want to have kids. Then at some point along the line I really wanted them. Not quite as fervishly as your friend, as I still felt my life had some kind of meaning, but I still felt like the clock was ticking for some reason. A few bad experiences down the road, and I’m more on the side of not wanting kids again.

    I’m a selfish person. I can admit that. That means that it’s hard to think about having to sacrifice for something outside of myself. At the same time, I will defend my dog as if it were my child, so who knows what’s wrong with me.

    I’ve concluded that it’s probably not in the cards, but if it happens, so be it.

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