The Pew Research Center released the results of a new survey and found that 44% of non-parents between the ages of 18 and 49 are not likely to have children ever. Sadly, that number has gone up seven percentage points compared to the 37% who did not plan on having children in 2018.

Ironically, these new numbers were released in the week leading up to Thanksgiving, a time of the year when we spend a significant amount of time focusing on and spending time with family.

While there were various reasons cited as to why non-parents do not want to have children, a majority (56%) of respondents under the age of 50 said they just didn’t want to have children.

Even more interestingly, non-parents under 40 years old were much more likely to respond negatively to having children (60%) than non-parents in their 40s (46%). And according to Pew, there was no difference in responses between men and women. Both sexes were equally inclined to say no to having children.

As a highly ambitious and career-minded millennial mother to four school-aged children, I can honestly say that raising my children has been the most rewarding, humbling, challenging, and meaningful job I have ever had.

Talk to any committed mother or grandmother, and I have no doubt you will hear a similar refrain. No matter how hard it seems at times, unprepared we feel in moments, or how painful parenting in a crisis or through a loss can be, motherhood is worth it. Period.

There really is no higher calling than to love, guide, teach, equip, and launch children into the world. It is a high honor and privilege to be part of the process that refines a young girl or a young boy into a virtuous woman and a virtuous man, ready to stand up and do their part to make the world a better place.

The thing about parenthood that makes it so uniquely hard and rewarding all at the same time is that it calls us to be our best selves even as we are fallen and imperfect. It’s a process that you don’t fully understand or value until you’re in it. It’s about being refined for something bigger than yourself.

When done right, motherhood and fatherhood bring out our best nature. We learn to die to the things that bring us down, bring our children down, and bring our family down. We lean into doing the hard stuff because the benefit it provides to the next generation is worth it. When we break chains, the next generation is freer. When we live in a way that honors God, our children get to stand on our shoulders and honor God in ways we couldn’t have dreamt.

Parenting is a calling to be the best version of yourself for someone else. It’s sacrificial love. It’s the kind of love that compels a mother to willingly lay down her life for her child or a father to bear hug his daughter as their airplane goes down to take the brunt of the crash on his body to save her.

As Christian parents, we are inspired by Christ’s sacrificial love for us. Jesus demonstrated true sacrificial love as recorded in Romans 5:8, “But God showed his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Parenting done right enriches the soul and gives inspiration to the next generation to live life well. In fact, parenting done right embodies true heroism.

It’s not a coincidence that when young adults are asked about their heroes, they often name their mother or father. Some of the common characteristics of true heroes are selflessness, courage, humility, perseverance, discipline, and integrity.

When parents love well and raise their children well, they embody the characteristics of a true hero, and there is no better place to see the true nature of a person than in the family unit.

Sacrificial love transforms not just an individual, but a family, a community, and a nation. There is genuine, changing power in loving others well.

If the next generation wants to experience the ultimate self-improvement process as they are inclined to chase after, they should embrace parenthood. It will demand more of them than they think they can give, but with the Lord’s help, it will also provide more fulfillment and purpose than they ever dreamed they could have.

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