The Best Self-Improvement Book: Children


Of all the self-help ideas for sale these days, there is one that is rarely mentioned: children.  Maybe that’s because many of these self-help gurus don’t have kids.  Or maybe it’s just because they haven’t found a way to make a bunch of money off of it yet.  After all, it comes rather natural (without the need of a brilliant, self-improvement entrepreneur and his best-selling book).

It’s pretty neat how nature has some amazing things built in for us that naturally make us better people.  Becoming a parent is one of those things.

I think our culture often forgets what a blessing children are – not only a blessing in themselves, but in how much they actually make us better people. Instead, we have a very self-centered culture focused on immediate gratification…avoiding these blessings at all costs.

This is a quote from Janet Smith on the topic of children from her talk called “Contraception, Why Not?” – which is an outstanding talk, by the way. I recommend listening to the entire thing if you haven’t heard it before.

I think it’s also the fact that people who have children, become better people, I want to say, almost instantaneously. Almost instantaneously they become better. It’s been my good fortune to have met several of my male friends as they’ve exited from the delivery room. And some of you may have experienced this or seen others. Such individuals are generally delirious and they babble and they say things like, “It’s incredible. It’s the most miraculous, marvelous, mysterious thing I have ever been a part of in my whole life. It’s the best day of my whole life. I can’t believe it.” And somewhere along the line they say, “Everything’s different now. Everything’s different now.” And that’s absolutely true because yesterday they could care less who the mayor was or who was chief of the police force or who was president of the school board and whether the playgrounds were safe or how they spent their money or how many movies were rated PG and what was on TV. But today they care. And today everything’s different and now they’re going to be careful about all these things. When you’re single, who cares about all these things. It doesn’t affect you. When you don’t have any children it doesn’t affect you. When you have a child you’re sending out to the world, all of a sudden you become protective of this child and you know that all these influences need to be attended to. You also become more patient and generous and kind and hardworking because this baby is very demanding. It takes a lot of your time and a lot of your effort. And so you become a better person and you’re married to a better person and that makes for a better marriage.

And please don’t mistake this as encouraging people to irresponsibly have children that should not be having children.  Many people have some serious issues they need to deal with first before they are able to take care of a child.  A child should never become an object used to fix some other problem in one’s life.

But, this should make us think.  Too often we think of children as this inconvenience for us – or an accident.  And we view having these children in terms of all of the sacrifices we will have to make in order to do so.  All the while forgetting that the sacrifices are well worth it for what we receive in return.

7 comments Add comment

Anna December 29, 2008 at 2:15 pm

What a lovely post, and it’s so, so, so true. I can’t believe how much this post meant to me. In fact, I wrote about the same exact thing today in a way on my blog.

Btw. I’m following you now. Thank you so much. :)


Dan Mihalak December 30, 2008 at 10:08 am

As tghe first commenter said gret post and so true

Steve Magendans December 30, 2008 at 7:29 pm

Hi Matt my nephew.
Lovely post mate! It reminded me of the birth of our first .At that moment she appeared there in front of me ,I only then realised , there’s three of us now.
The most profound experience of my young life.And as you write in your post.Passions were aroused in me that previously did’nt exist.
Thanks again for your excellent thoughts

Maiken Jepsen December 31, 2008 at 1:03 am

Hi Matthew,
I really like your post!
Its nice to hear a guys perspective of why children are so amazing and how they can improve our lives.

Timur I. January 27, 2009 at 2:56 pm

Good work! Thank you!
I always wanted to write in my blog something like that. Can I take part of your post to my blog?
Of course, I will add backlink?

Regards, Timur I.

Matthew Warner January 27, 2009 at 5:34 pm

Of course! You’re always welcome to borrow stuff as long as you give credit and link back! I appreciate it!

William April 24, 2009 at 10:41 pm

Sorry mate, but the evidence is against you on this one. See this story:

If it is such a great activity, why aren’t your priests allowed to do it?
Because in general it turns people into selfish, self-obsessed monsters. The modern parent is a particularly ugly example of the sense of entitlement that prevails in this society.

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