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As I have never been a parent my comments are based purely on observation. Of course this would give those who are totally brainwashed by the concept of parental bliss the ammunition to shoot down my comments as being those of a non-participant. But I really don’t think that you have to experience something to be able to form an opinion and make some comments based on your observations.
To begin with, I think the idea of parental bliss has been put forward to ensure the propagation of the human race. If this idea has not been romanticised and highly publicised, I doubt that the most maudlin person would ever think that this was not a juxtaposition.
Being a parent fulfils the most basic of needs, which is propagation. But the moment one becomes a parent, another instinct kicks in, and here is the rub: the protective instinct that is different shades of love and possession. This instinct is what finally negates the blissful state of parenthood.
The best case scenario is where you have a healthy, normal child who grows into a good, loving, responsible person, who reciprocates your care and who is near enough to demonstrate such care. But even such a case is never totally free of uncomfortable complications, for such a child could have a spouse who is not amenable to such relations, or a job that gets in the way, or even a tendency to travel that disrupts such reunions. Still this is the best case scenario.
From then on it is all downhill.
If the child, God forbid, is unhealthy, then you have a lifetime of worry and fear. True those feelings start when a woman conceives, but with an unhealthy child they are compounded and include the father as well. So where is the bliss in that? Your instinct of love and protection is what keeps you in a constant state of worry and fear for your child.
The child might be healthy physically but mentally challenged. Again your instincts kick in and you become over protective and your whole life is turned around to accommodate your child’s needs. Is that bliss?
Your child might be both physically healthy and mentally sharp, but might have a character deficiency, either a cruel streak, or a disconcerting selfishness, or maybe just a lack of empathy. Any one of those can be quite a nightmare in dealing with the person who you feel is an extension of you and whom you love unconditionally. So where is parental bliss in such a situation?
I shall not cite extreme situations of child cruelty to parents nor even touch upon the murder of parents by their children, but there are so many other cruelties practiced by seemingly normal children that I don’t need go to extremes.
There is the child who gets so involved in his/her life that getting in touch with the parents is left to special occasions. There is the child who lives far away and barely sees the parents. There is the child whose spouse turns him/her against the parents for whatever reason. There is the child who deprives the parents of their grandchildren.
Whatever the reasons, whatever the circumstances, the lot of parents cannot by any stretch of the imagination be called bliss. On the contrary, from the time the child is conceived, until the parents’ demise, their lot is that of worry and heartache. As a parent you are constantly worried about their safety, their health, their happiness. You miss them always and never seem to have enough of them or their children. Is that a state of bliss?
The very strong basic instinct of propagation is what leads us on and the very strong love for our issue is what keeps us going, but a state of bliss it is not.
25 October 2015