To obtain a gun license in South Africa, you need to…
- Be over 18
- Pay an exorbitant non-refundable application fee
- Attend a series of (expensive) classes
- Pass a theory test on gun laws
- Take a practical target-shoot test
- Install a gun safe, mounted to two walls
- Pass an on-site inspection of said gun safe by Police officer
- Pass an in-person interview with Police
- Provide two references who will be interviewed telephonically by the Police
- Obtain your spouse’s written approval
- Write an essay explaining why you need the gun
- Pay for a specific gun
- Wait over a year for your application to be processed
- Repeat most of the process every five years for renewal
To have a baby you need to…
Well, you get the picture. Anyone can have a baby, and yet I bet most would agree that you can do at least as much damage to society by being an irresponsible and ignorant parent, than you could by being a gun owner.
On one extreme you have the blithe naiveté of some who figure that raising kids is done intuitively, like navigating by following your nose. These parents have no goals for their parenting, and it tends to show. If you don’t plan your garden, you will have a bumper crop of weeds. If you do establish a goal, it will require constant planting, tending, weeding, pruning, fertilizing, and other exertions of TLC. Parents with no intentionality in their parenting may produce a gang of hoodlums that society label as “problem kids” while the parents prefer the moniker, “self-expressive.”
This works until the little batch of self-expressive misfits end up in a Police line-up, or worse, unemployed and living at home, mooching of mom’s laundry facilities and gas money. When moms cry “Where did I go wrong??” Solomon answers bluntly, you went wrong round about the same time you thought your kid would raise himself.
The alternative extreme is the yuppy couple who insists that they won’t have kids until they’re ready. This sounds prudent, except if they define “ready” as first attaining a state of both parents having completed studies, established a pair of lucrative careers, paid off their first home, and have travelled the world enough times to get their wanderlust out their system.
This dream of “doing everything I wanted to do, so now it’s time to be shackled to the inescapable responsibility of offspring,” is a misunderstanding of what really brings joy in life and the place of God’s grace in childrearing.
The balance is to be found in realizing that you will never be fully ready for children, but you also can’t think that producing progeny needs no planning.
Kids are a beautiful explosion of messy unpredictability. This fact is cause for celebration and preparation.
Related article on lessons from Ginger Ploughman’s book, Don’t Make Me Count To Three: