What does it mean to raise children to be open to life? Honestly it is not something I have given a lot of thought. We just live our life and our life happens to include more than the standard issue of children. Sometimes, though, I get a peak into how our way of life radically impacts the worldview of our children.
One of the neighbor girls ate lunch at our house today. She is around eight years old and has a baby sister who is around 6 months old. Grace matter-of-factly asked her today if she wanted the next baby to be a brother or a sister. The girl answered that one baby gave her mother enough trouble. Grace responded that of course the baby was a lot of work for her mother, but what did *she* want if they had another baby. The girl wrinkled her nose and shook her head no. Grace tried to make sense of this answer by saying, "Oh, you just want to get used to having one baby before you think about the next one." This is the entirety of the exchange.
In Grace's world, it is perfectly normal for there to be another baby at some point and for that baby to be A Good Thing. She is sometimes so glib about her expectation of having more siblings, I have to remind her that children are not just mail-order delivered.
My children are not abnormal. They fight amongst themselves, but they also don't view their siblings as threats or people to be avoided. We do not pit them against each other and we are all encouraged to be understanding of the developmental level of each member of the family. The baby cries and needs to be comforted. The toddler grabs and needs to learn to share. The older ones all need a turn to be the leader of the game. Sometimes the parents need to be left alone. It is everyone's responsibility to help provide what other family members need. I forget that other families just don't function this way.
Grace doesn't know how to avoid adoring the baby even when the baby sometimes drives her crazy. She doesn't understand that some families focus on the sacrifices that babies require and never get around to embracing the joy. She does not live where the normal demands of babies are met with the language of resentment, negativity, and anger. She doesn't recognize that the likelihood of the neighbor having another sibling is probably low. She would be horrified if she ever realized that her friend is glad the probability is low.
According to Grace, there is no reason why you wouldn't want another baby. And this is how I know we are raising our children to be open to life.