“You must live life before starting a family.” This is something that young people – at least in the West – hear time and again. It implies that starting a family means no longer enjoying life, and further, that the family shouldn’t be prioritised.
Life is filled with more rewarding endeavours. And, if it is true that sooner or later, you should probably make the effort to create a nest, it’s important to do this as late as possible – after you’ve done “everything else” and are over it.
It's better to “think first about yourself” and “have fun” instead of considering “too soon” the idea of sacrificing for a love, an endeavour that transcends us and in which we must invest ourselves wholly.
This perspective is also reflected in the media…
We talk about falling in love, but not about family
You don’t have to be a film critic to see that there are few movies that deal with the issue of young couples with small children. This period of life is seen as unattractive, monotonous, if not alienating.
What is interesting and adventurous about the lives of two people who spend their days changing diapers, preparing baby food, or singing lullabies?
It’s so much more interesting to recount that preceding phase: the falling in love bit. To talk about other stuff – like journeys to other worlds – than show the daily grind of a mum and dad who have lost track of day and night.
TV commercials and young people: if what matters are individual dreams
There are many advertisements that avoid showing the life of young moms or dads with babies – preferring to present a lifestyle that is filled with fun, rather than sacrifice.
“Everything revolves around you,” is the message that, implicitly or explicitly, is often given to kids through the media.
“Everything revolves around your physical form, your interests, your desire to go out and travel.”
“Everything revolves around your desire to consume drinks, foods, relationships…”
In summary, “everything revolves around your desire for absolute freedom.”
With a newborn you do not have time, strength, money to “consume”, you have no chance of pursuing absolute freedom, so there is no spot in the spots for that particular phase of life, unless it's a TV commercial about baby food or diapers.
A child doesn’t not stop life – he fills it
It is no secret that getting married and having children involves sacrifice. When you become a wife or husband, when you become a mother or father, things don’t revolve around us, but around those we love.
Rarely, however, do we hear how beautiful, fulfilling, stimulating it is to live for someone else, rather than for ourselves; how nice it is to give life without reservations, instead of putting your interest first; helping someone else grow, mature, accomplish instead of pursuing only individual dreams.
The arrival of a child is often associated with isolation, insomnia, and the inability to do anything.
Few tell us that with a child, life does not end, it becomes only more interesting; that a child does not stop you from going out or travelling. It just means you might have to do it differently, respecting their rhythms.
Few tell us that a baby does not ask you to have no more time for you; he asks you to be creative to get it.
Communicating the beauty of having a family
It is true that the choice of forming a family must be weighed and perhaps there is no “right age” to invest in such a big, important, monotonous project. Of course, you must have reached a certain maturity to engage in such an endeavour.
However, bringing a new creature to the world is an adventure that the adventures of Peter Pan or Alice in Wonderland have nothing on!
Why not explore a little more that world? Why not communicate the beauty of forming a family – even at a young age, when youth and vitality are still on our side?
Why not use movies, songs, and advertisements to tell that taking care of an “us” enriches us – instead of saying that doing it young doesn’t mean the end of life, but just that life will be lived in a new way?
Dear directors and advertisers, just think about it for a second: maybe showcasing the antics of two new parents could be much more beautiful, interesting and fun than you think.
Cecilia Galatolo writes for Family and Media. Republished with permission.