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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Beware of unrealistic view of parenthood

    My oldest brother had been correct. The sky was pitch-black and my neon green alarm clock read 5 a.m. exactly, when I heard my one-year-old nephew crying in the guest room across the hall, just as my brother warned me he would. He instructed me to let the baby cry it out on his own, but being the enabling aunt I am, I left my room, picked up my exhausted, troubled nephew and walked around my house with him until 5:30 a.m., leaving me only a half-hour to sleep before the baby was ready to start his day.

    Spending extended periods of time with my nephew is a blessing for two reasons, the first being that I’m out of state for college and rarely get to see him as such. The second benefit of babysitting him is that I get a glimpse of what it’s like to take care of a child. Anyone considering young parenthood would learn from this, because the experience shows what it is actually like to have a child at a young age.

    One of the big problems recent graduates seem to face is that they set unrealistic expectations for themselves. As soon as they become “”real adults,”” many want perfect lives, one aspect of which includes getting their dream job and starting a family right away. While it works for some to marry at a young age, having children too early is a far bigger, more detrimental risk.

    Besides the financial burden of supporting children, those in their early-to-mid-20s still have a lot of maturing to do. Arguably one of the most valuable virtues, patience increases with age and maturity so without this essential quality, young parents have a harder time properly taking care of their children.

    It’s not smart to follow in the footsteps of the media, but many seem to be doing so as of late. The popular 2007 films “”Juno”” and “”Knocked Up”” portray accidental young pregnancy with nonchalance and borderline glamour. The films take us through the women’s pregnancy but end as soon as the babies are born, failing to show the reality of these serious circumstances. I’m embarrassed to even know about the birth of 17-year-old Jamie Lynn Spears’ baby this year, but almost every newspaper, television station and online news web site exploited her pregnancy until she actually had the child this summer. The entertainment industry made light of the issue of teen pregnancy, and whether or not it is at fault, young women don’t truly take into accountthe substantial amount of work that children require anymore.

    Having kids is more than just checking off another box on life’s to-do list. It is something that essentially helps complete a person, and they must have evolved greatly before they can get to this point. It seems as if most young people assume they’ll be good parents simply because they are nice, understanding people, but kindness is easily tested in this case.

    Besides tabloids and trashy magazines, the initial thrill of starting a family seems to encourage young women to have children. Once the excitement dies down, the workload continues to increase because the child’s needs broaden with age.

    Though newborns are time-consuming, mobile toddlers need constant activity and attention. Even mature, stable and older men and women can never really be prepared to start families until their kids are born.

    The best way for young prospective parents to test their parental readiness is to do what I did: Spend an entire day with an infant, preferably without help from an outside party.

    I do this whenever I come home from Arizona. While I love both of my nephews and would give up my life for them in a heartbeat, they remind me on every visit home why it’s best for many to wait until their late 20s or early 30s to conceive.

    After a day of chasing after a wild, screaming 1-year-old in the park, dancing and singing to “”Barney,”” cleaning bits of thrown food all over the kitchen table and countless dirty diapers, you may reconsider taking all this on in a few short years.

    -Laura Donovan is a creative writing junior.

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