Parents – It's Not "All About The Kids"

It's not exactly wrong to tell your child "No".

Child Playing - Mother Reading in the Background

This post was written as part of Peeve Week 2: Misconceptions.

I seriously considered gluing a leaf the other day.

Bethy picked a leaf on a walk and just as we were nearing our gate she ripped it in half.

“I think you can mend this,” she said, holding the two halves side by side, “I’m just putting them together.”

And, just for a moment…

Because, as a parent, we’d do anything for our children, wouldn’t we? Not if you value your sanity, and the life of your kids!

Who comes first? The parent. Every time! The reason we can say so is that, most of the time, parents can do for their children, and we want to, and we do so with a happy skip in our step. But, heaven help the family when Mum or Dad do something when the little voice in their head is saying, “I really don’t want to be doing this.” That voice should be accompanied by the shark music from Jaws. It’s a warning. It says, Get out of the water! Now! If we ignore the voice, the music is only going to get faster and reach a crescendo, and before the day is done the boat will be tipped over and the water will be turning red with the blood of innocent victims.

You Can Be A Little Bit Nicer Than You Feel – But Not Much

As parents, we have to listen to that voice and be honest with our children: “I really don’t feel like doing that.” We can’t take them to all the places they want to go, or play all the games they want to play. Sometimes we have to say to ourselves, “No. Enough is enough,” so that our inclination to parent our children is preserved and fresh. Parents need time to read the books they want to read, or play an instrument. They need time to live their own life or they will become resentful and will take it out on the rest of the family.

The benefit of this is that it allows (forces?) children to do for themselves. Let them entertain themselves, find their own way to places, have friends over rather than go out, do their own household chores.

Most mornings I like to get up early to read, write, or research. More often than not I can do this undisturbed but occasionally I hear the tell-tale shuffling from upstairs, the bump and pad, the creaking of the stairs. At one time my body would tense up and my stress level would rise. Not any more. If she gets up, she gets up. “Daddy’s doing some work, Beth. I’m glad to have you with me, but you’ll have to read or draw.” If I’m able to be a little bit nicer than I feel we split the screen and she uses headphones to watch some videos.

The irony, of course, is that when parents put themselves first, look after their own needs, listen to the warning voice and not ignore their feelings, then it really is all about the children because only by doing that can parents really be at their best for them – and for the whole family.

Rory Sullivan is currently – and probably forever – residing in the UK. As a parent and (once) a child, Rory writes on hamelife.com about communication between parent and child. This article was originally published on his site: Parents – It’s Not All About The Children.

5 thoughts on “Parents – It's Not "All About The Kids"”

  1. Rory,

    This is a great eye-opening post. I have never had a child, but I was 13 when my half-brother was born. I changed diapers, had to watch him, and other unmentionable things. It's true that it isn't necessarily always about the little ones.

    On a un-related note, I think Simonne (All Tips and Tricks) should do a spin-off of this post and say, "Cat Owners, It's Not Always About the Cats." And then in her post, she would say, "I'm sorry. I was mistaken."

  2. music from Jaws… boat tipped over… water turning red…
    That did it for me – no more giving up to my daughter's request to spend more time with her…

    Actually, I'm not always giving up… I do want her to grow up to be an independent person. It's getting better now. She knows when mommy is busy and can entertain herself for sometime.

  3. This post was very well written! I do agree with your parenting method, and it's definitely how I want to raise my children.

    My relationship with my parents, I can't say its "unique" cause I don't know if it is, but it's different… we don't particularly treat each other as specifically "mum;dad;daughter", but like housemates and friends. They don't particularly set 'boundaries', as I know what's wrong and right, but if I do do wrong, then they will lecture a bit and put a few boundaries in. I suppose it depends on the child… I'm a very 'goody' kind of person lol.

    Honestly I worry a bit about when I become a parent, whether I'll do a good job parenting and raising my child… eeee.

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