What We Teach Our Kids When We Don’t Take Care of Ourselves

Modern Parent


You love your children with everything you’ve got, but what’s sacrifice got to do with it? What do we teach our children when we don’t take care of ourselves first? Are parents not worthy of self-care? When you put everyone else’s needs before your own, you may experience self-neglect. Neglect means uncared for properly and is a form of abuse. Are you telling your children that parenthood is a form of self-abuse?

While running errands, I overheard a teenaged girl state she’s “not having kids” because she wants “to spoil herself”. It got me thinking about all the people I know who have opted out of parenting. Some admitted their decision not to parent was strictly vain; they had no desire for loose skin, stretch marks or saggy boobs. Others considered the expense and did not want to risk financial strain. There were also those who believed having kids would hamper their active lifestyles. These are valid reasons not to become a parent if parenting is not for you.

Whether it is from a religious upbringing or simply learning to emulate those who came before us, we are taught self-sacrifice when it comes to matters concerning our children. You are responsible for your little ones. You’re monitoring their activity during online school, making sure their masks are protecting them from COVID, stocking up on their favorite snacks for consumption during quarantine.

You are always nurturing and caring for them. You must protect them until they are old enough to protect themselves. If you don’t apply as much attention to your own needs, you’re sending an unhealthy message. If you portray no enjoyment in parenthood, you may not experience grandparenthood. Your kids may not want to follow in your sad footsteps.

The frazzled mom stretched in all directions is the good mom because she puts her needs last or ignores them completely.

The mom who is too laid back who fails to protect and neglects her children is surely a terrible parent.

A hard-working dad may not attend parent-teacher conferences or schedule dental appointments, but he works long and tiring hours to provide for his kids-so he’s the greatest.

The dad who can’t provide material things but can put in some time with his children is still seen as a bit of a deadbeat or failure.

There is certainly great value in going the extra mile to make sure your kids have all they need and some of what they want. Keep in mind, moms and dads must take time out to care for themselves as well. There needs to be some balance. Parents must show there’s enough love left for themselves.

According to Kenny Toh, writer of Sacrifice is not Love! “parents often confuse sacrifice with selfless love.”

Toh goes on to express the importance of loving and taking care of yourself first through a befitting quote from Buddha: “You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”

By not treating yourself or enjoying some time off from tending to the needs of everyone else, by not demonstrating there is importance in self-preservation, we are teaching our children that our lives end with them.

For some, the assumption becomes that the most certain way to enjoy adult life is to be childless. Being childless means potential is limitless. Alternatively, becoming a parent hinders living life to the fullest.

The answer lies in finding a balance between taking care of family and self. To neither become self-less or selfish. The objective should be for everyone to receive all of what they need and some of what they want — Moms and Dads included. In this way, children are not lead to believe happiness dies in parenthood.

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