11 July 2007

Short changing individualism

Pretty soon my kids will turn 2 and 4. They have the same birthday. As some people like to say, twins born two years apart. When people find out my kids have the same birthdate, they think it was great planning. I didn't plan anything really. Both kids were complete surprises, despite what my mother-in-law believes.

Because both of my pregnancies were high-risk with lots of complications, I had two planned C-sections. This allowed me to, within a window of a week or so, pick the date of both kids' births. When our families found out that I planned to have my daughter born on the same day her brother was, we got a lot of grief. That caught me off-guard. Even though, at the most, they would be born less than a week apart, people thought it was an offense to their "individualism" to have them share the same birthday. My brother said, "That's just wrong." Some of my husband's family kept pushing for me to have their birthdays be just one day apart.

Before all this unsoliticted advice came my way, I thought that the kids having the same birthday was a great idea. I still do. I thought my kids would forever be connected in this small way and their birthdays would be a celebration of them together and apart. Pop psychology aside, the Church is a good teacher on the role of the individual, but also on our roles as a community. From the Archdiocese of Cincinnati:

In a global culture driven by excessive individualism, our tradition proclaims that the person is not only sacred but also social. How we organize our society—in economics and politics, in law and policy—directly affects human dignity and the capacity of individuals to grow in community. The family is the central social institution that must be supported and strengthened, not undermined. While our society often exalts individualism, the Catholic tradition teaches that human beings grow and achieve fulfillment in community. We believe people have a right and a duty to participate in society, seeking together the common good and well-being of all, especially the poor and vulnerable. Our Church teaches that the role of government and other institutions is to protect human life and human dignity and promote the common good.

Society has gone off the deep-end in pushing the cause of individualism. It is the down fall of Libertarians who believe you can do whatever you want as long as it doesn't interfere with me doing what I want. Individualism finds its extreme in abortion, euthanasia and some medical research where the rights of the individual outweigh the rights of those not afford the same status. We fall into the trap of thinking that our own lives are more important than those of our neighbors, contrary to Jesus' message of loving your neighbor as yourself.

Not that long ago, kids used to share rooms. In some cases, they even shared beds. Extended family lived under the same roof. People had a more immediate sense of how their actions affected others. In today's world, sins like pornography, prostitution, etc., aren't believed to be "that bad" since people don't consider the sin as affecting them. It's the modern belief of "to each his own."

In a few weeks, the kids will have their joint birthday party. Even if they had different birthdays, it is unlikely they would've had separate parties. It's hard enough to get everyone together for one day out of the year, but ask them to do that twice within a week and those people who rallied for different birthdays would tell me I was crazy to try to monopolize their calendar with my kids' parties.

My birthday is Christmas Eve, so don't tell me I don't know what's it's like to have my big day overshadowed by someone else. I don't think my kids' sense of individualism will suffer from having their birthdays on the same day. They might have to learn to share and think of others. After all, aren't those things we want our children to learn?


Shannon from TN said...

I completely agree with you. I believe your children will appreciate the closeness they have by sharing their birthdays. I'm sure as they get a little older, they MIGHT make a comment about wanting their "own" party, but in the end I think it's great!

swissmiss said...

Thanks, Shannon. What I didn't mention in my post is that the two kids I have are all that God plans to give me, biologically. I only had one sibling growing up and wanted more. In retrospect, having them have the same birthday is even more special knowing that they may be the only kids we have, and they may be the only siblings to each other.

Yep, they probably will want separate parties when they get older. but that's fine. I already have a princess castle cake pan to use for a future party for my daughter. By then, I'm sure my son will bristle at the thought of having such a cake at his party!