Parenthood: Vocation or Choice?

Hannah Anderson

Is parenthood a vocation or a choice? The question might sound strange, but Hannah Anderson thinks it’s an important one to ask. We frame nearly every aspect of our lives through the lens of choice nowadays, but conceiving of parenthood in this way is a relatively new phenomenon—a result of reliable technological means of controlling fertility.

What happens when we view parenthood primarily through this lens ? “If we believe that we can control and manage when and how we bring children into the world,” writes Anderson, “we’ll also believe we can control and manage them as they navigate it.”

Whether you agree with her or not, it’s worth considering how the lens of choice affects how we think about bearing children. If we exchange the choice lens for the vocation lens – which Anderson defines as "a process of entering into a work God is doing even before we understand it" – it might help us make sense of the inevitable lack of control every parent eventually comes to feel. Or, in Anderson’s words, perhaps instead of managing children, we’ll learn to tend them.

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