This has become a mere platitude. But underneath is a great spiritual truth. (Platitudes and clichés become that way because underneath them are deep spiritual truths and these are convenient ways to communicate them.)

Yes, the sleepless nights, the worries about health, the trouble they get into, the tantrums, the rebellion, all the difficulties that one goes through notwithstanding. Child rearing, is definitely one of the most difficult things to do. Yet, the statement stands. Generally, it is not seen while it is happening. It is only seen later on and when we have a clearer view of the big picture.

Children stretch us. They pull us out of our comfort zone. In dealing with them we grow mentally, emotionally and spiritually. We discover capacities that we never knew we had. Although there are hosts of books on child rearing, The truth is that there are no rules. I have always believed that it is the children that raise the parents and not vice versa. The child, who knows you intimately, will easily reveal your weaknesses, foibles and inconsistencies. They will also reveal your strengths and good points. The difficult ones are the most spiritually useful.

That child who wets his pants and gives you a very hard time, can grow up and discover a medicine that cures cancer or some other ill. Perhaps he or she will invent some new invention that benefits all of humanity. The fact that they were even born shows that they have a special destiny for the world at large. It might not be name or fame, but nevertheless the child will bring some good to the world at large, even the difficult ones.

Perhaps the main gift that they bring us is that we learn to love unconditionally, With no thought or hope of return . This, is the highest form of love. This is real spiritual love.

Parents do everything for their children, make huge sacrifices for them and yet there are no guarantees that the child will ever return the favor. I have seen situations where the children did terrible things to the parent, stealing huge amounts of money, even stealing the parents company, unlawfully, and yet the parent was blessed by this. In one case that I know of, the victimized Parent, who had a very difficult personality, changed his ways completely. He forgave the children before he died and loved them unconditionally. He went to the other world as a radiant being.

We are not trying to minimize the difficulties or the pain that child rearing brings. But even these should be seen as divine gifts.

Yes, children are the gifts of God.