Commentary: The Extraordinary Joys of Ordinary Family Life

Family Unit
by Cadence McManimon


Our world of hookup culture, abortion on demand, and fading traditional family structure is pushing a rising number of young people away from wanting to have children. Even married couples are choosing to remain childless, citing everything from financial freedom to environmental concerns.

This drastic decision is often made from a place of fear and blindness, out of worry about what young couples will have to give up if they have a family. But that’s just one side of the coin. These people are also depriving themselves of the extraordinary joys that having children brings to ordinary life. So let’s start shifting the narrative. We can voice the delights of parenthood and share why it’s so meaningful, showing the world how valuable and incredible children are. They change us and challenge us in so many ways. What miracles do little ones bring to our daily lives? Here are just a few:

We see the world for the first time all over again. Do we remember what it’s like to truly discover something for the first time? When little ones first find the sink, or a caterpillar, or a wooden spoon, they are truly discovering it as if it had never existed before. Their wonder is both entertaining and contagious!

We parents get to discover the exciting mysteries of everyday life all over again. This strips away indifferent or jaded adult attitudes and makes us really look at the amazing little things life offers every single day. And this mindset grows with our children. As they hit new birthdays every year, we parents get to revisit all of our favorite childhood games, activities, books, toys, and experiences! I can’t put into words how fun it is to relive beloved memories with a brand new, completely invested audience of kids. It rekindles wonder in me more than anything else.

We are free to be goofy in public. We would probably look askance at a passerby who is singing loudly to himself while holding a balloon. But if that person is traipsing around with a toddler or two in tow, it is completely understandable! Having a baby basically comes with a free ticket to dance around, make silly faces, stop to inspect ladybugs, or wear superhero capes to the grocery store. If anyone does make a curious comment, all we have to do is explain, “We’re playing with the little one!” and we are instantly socially acceptable.

And, hey, even if people do look funny at us once in a while, is that really so important? We should focus on living well and enjoying our little ones rather than worrying about judgment from the outside world.

We become present to each moment again. There is something about having a baby that snaps us back into living in the present moment. We suddenly have a helpless tiny person to care for, and every hour brings something new or different.

Yes, it can be exhausting and difficult, but one of the great graces found in nurturing newborn life is relearning how to be truly present. We learn how to enjoy silence again, savor the peace of a well-earned nap, and immerse ourselves in noticing details about the brand-new life we carry around in our arms. Parenthood naturally drives us back to this basic human condition of living in the moment. And it’s a more peaceful, slower, more meaningful way to live as well.

We basically are celebrities … to our babies. If ever we wanted to be popular, having children guarantees us a miniature fan club. Every day, my husband comes home to a 2-year-old racing toward the door with a big smile and squeals of delight. When I walk into a room, I am bombarded with excited announcements about Legos and toy knights.

Whenever we walk away, there are little pattering footsteps following as fast as they possibly can. Every child’s world is his parents, and every child’s deepest desire is to be doing whatever his parents are. We can revel in this attention and be delighted at how deeply our children value us.

Our existing communities grow and bond with our children. When we have children, we (should) have a beloved spouse beside us sharing the journey. Two become three! And when we have multiple children, that journey is repeated and shared again with the older children, too. Then there’s our wider families and communities. For example, the entire first month after my first son was born, my husband and I had company every day. Besides enjoying the help and company, we realized what a huge impact a child has outside of just the nuclear family. We got to bring this new tiny person into our existing world, with our parents and brothers and sisters and friends all getting to share in this new chapter.

Children change us, and they also change the world. That world is our own families, our group of friends, and our communities. This is both adorable and powerful. Our own little ones grow up interconnected with the world, and they have the chance to bring to it all their own ideas, gifts, and passions.

We can look forward to grandparenthood! Let’s not forget that the excitement of having children doesn’t expire once they reach 18. After that, parents have a lifetime of staying connected with their adult children, as well as the exciting prospect of becoming grandparents.

In our twilight years, what could be more of a gift than new life twogenerations down? Most new parents rely on their own parents for advice and support in one way or another. Our sunset years can be some of the most meaningful when we offer our experience and support to growing families. Remember, when someone chooses never to have children, they also give up ever being a grandparent!

We have a cure for the loneliness epidemic. Children are the most affectionate human beings on the planet. They always want hugs, kisses, and snuggles. They climb into laps, hold hands, and nap on shoulders. They adore attention and babbling conversations, and when they get older, they live for the chance to talk about their burgeoning interests to anyone who will listen.

Our modern culture has a dearth of human connection. Children and family are the antidote! And this is not just something parents benefit from—siblings, grandparents, and family friends can also enjoy the affection.

Recently, my toddler surprised me with spontaneous caregiving. During a couple of weeks when I was very sick, my 4-year-old son regularly checked on me, giving hugs and saying, “Mommy, I will take care of you. It’ll be okay.” Children are naturally affectionate and empathetic. Let’s recognize how valuable this quality is.

I have written before on the deep value of parenthood, and I’d like to close with that now:

Don’t let fear of the unknown steal the joys that [lie] before you. Maybe you’re worried about the baby on the way, or the idea of children frightens you, or you’re waffling about trying for adoption. However overwhelming having kids may seem … don’t fall for the falsehoods modern society preaches about children hurting your marriage! Selfishness kills marriages, so if you want your marriage to thrive, fill it with generosity. Generosity to each other, generosity to others, and generosity to life. It will be the adventure of a lifetime!

Having children is one of the most challenging things in life and, accordingly, brings some of the deepest joy we will ever know. Let’s remind society how incredible and precious raising the next generation is.

– – –

Cadence McManimon is a published author, former special education teacher, and now a wife and mother. She has too many houseplants, plenty of artsy projects, and not enough pens that work! (Doesn’t everyone?) Her novels Name Unspoken and The Lily Girl are available at her website Her favorite things include crayons, sarcasm, Sherlock Holmes, and hearing from readers!
Photo “Family Unit” by Obra Shalom Campo Grande CC BY-ND 2.0.



Appeared at and reprinted from

Related posts