What do you think when hearing a commercial for medicine if more time is spent on the potential negative side effects than on the benefits? Or, maybe you’ve seen a magazine ad for the same medicine. One page with a beautiful picture and a few words declaring the medicine’s benefit is followed by one or two pages of warnings. I think I’d have to be desperate to try medicines like these.

What if someone wrote a similar commercial for raising children?

We might hear or read things about how wonderful it is to hear a child’s first cry, coo, and giggle. We’d read about seeing children’s first smiles, attempts to walk, and smashed first-birthday cake all over their faces. We would hear about how children will fill our homes and life with love, joy, and laughter. Then the commercial will transition into a lovely montage of an infant growing into a beautiful bride and doctor. We would hear the narrator say, “Rediscover life through the eyes of your children as they explore the world around them, have dreams of their own, achieve important milestones, and carry your family legacy for generations to come!”

Then, using the prescription medicine analogy, what disclaimers would follow?

RAISING CHILDREN WARNINGS & POTENTIAL SIDE-EFFECTS: A potential side-effect of children is an insatiable curiosity. Normally occurring and a good thing, curiosity might also get them into trouble by breaking your 60-inch ultra-high definition flat screen by swinging the yo-yo around their head in the house after the 14th warning not to do so. Children may also get sick even though they take good vitamins. Side-effects of raising children may include sibling rivalry leading the older child to cover the younger child, from head to toe, in peanut butter. Warnings of potential disrespect and “Don’t roll your eyes at me!” syndrome may occur from ages 12 to 24. This syndrome and its effects can be found in both male and female children. They may show signs of little interest in parents’ favorite topics and/or manifest low skills in things parents’ value. Other side effects may include rebellion, risk-taking that turns your hair prematurely gray, incredibly bad fashion decisions, and a myriad of other potential mistakes.

Parents would still want children even if they saw a list ten times longer than this. Right? Children don’t come with guarantees that they’ll be easy. This is a reality. They may not be a joy to be around during particular seasons of life. Heartache is a real possibility. And yet, they aren’t a prescribed formula to make our lives better. They are not a means to an end. They are the beauty of God’s image. They are divinely appointed gifts we have the honor of traveling this earth with as a family and community. We become more of who we truly are by loving, nurturing, serving, protecting, and enjoying the children around us.

Children are worth the effort. The pain. The struggles. The late nights. The early mornings. The confusion. The headaches. The concern. The tears. The prayers.

Children are worth celebrating. Their joy of discovery and achievement can be embraced. The silent-no–words-needed expressions of unconditional love will rock your world.

Raising children is of inestimable worth in the moments of seeing God in them. His image doesn’t abide in quick fixes and formulaic answers. He abides in us and our relationships. Raising children means increasing love and experiencing life in ways that simply happen no other way.

And if this post doesn’t inspire you to go hug your kids, even if they are being ornery, … go hug and celebrate them anyway. Enjoy!