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Jewish World Review June 27, 2000 /24 Sivan, 5760

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Don't have children if you don't want to raise them -- OUR CURRENT SOCIETAL NORMS have made marriage optional and unstable. Illegitimacy and abortion are rampant, and mothers of babies are denigrated if they sacrifice their careers for the challenges of raising their own children.

It all comes down to values and priorities. Our society does not value children; therefore, they are not a priority. In July 1999 alone, the news swelled with stories of parents whose children literally poached in the backs of their cars, sweltering in the summer heat for more than seven hours, while the parents worked, gambled or partied. Believe it or not, there was little societal outcry, and to the best of my knowledge, most of the parents were given probation rather than jailed.

This is part of the morning-after-pill, abortion, day-care continuum. As children become less the point of our lives, less central to our daily doings and delegated to others for attention and maintenance, we become less and less aware of their very existence.

Children deserve to be put first. They shouldn't be worked around a mommy's or a daddy's more important schedule. I'm sick of ads and commercials that pander to the frantic life most families lead. One print ad for a breakfast cereal bar has as text: "First thing in the morning. That's my time to herd everyone in the car. So the bucket seats? Those are our dining room chairs. And the armrests? You guessed it ... our table. And breakfast? That's gotta be something that won't spill, drip or stick to upholstery. Buy yourself some time. The only bars that are an excellent source of calcium, and put the goodness of a bowl of cereal in the palm of your hand."

Happy, smiling faces show from the car windows. Let's make it easier and easier to erode family time and the parent-child bond. As long as they get their calcium -- it doesn't matter if they miss special, unhurried, focused time with Mommy.

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The cavalier manner in which our society treats child care, not as a matter of intimacy and love, but as a matter of convenience and economics, is deeply destructive to our children's sense of attachment, identity and importance.

I have said over and over again for years, if you won't or can't offer your child your being and time, don't make a baby -- get a parakeet. You can always throw a towel over the cage and quiet it when you're busy or just not interested.

(Excerpted from Dr. Laura Schlessinger's newest best-selling book: Parenthood by Proxy: Don't Have Them If You Won't Raise Them"".)

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