photo © 2009 Rachel Davies | more info (via: Wylio) I read Megan’s piece and I wanted to hug her mother. There is background here that I am reluctant to detail for privacy reasons, but allow me to say that one gift a parent can give a child, is the parent’s own well being.
The current parenting climate is one of putting the children first and in my opinion, we have carried that to the extreme. I think this child-centric environment develops parents who feel guilty for taking care of themselves and raises children who expect the world to revolve around them and lets face it, it can’t possibly revolve around your child because it revolves around mine. 🙂
Love your children, but do them a great favor and build a life of your own. Go on dates with your spouse, partner or friends, pursue a hobby that no one else in the family has an interest in, make time for activities by yourself. Take care of your health needs. Go to the doctor regularly and especially when you aren’t feeling well.
Our go, go, go lives combined with child-focused parenting styles is going to lead to a generation of parents who don’t know what do with themselves when the kids are gone. Parents who will be dependent on their children physically and emotionally because they haven’t taken care of themselves and have no life to fall back on when the kids spread their wings.
I am not suggesting you leave your toddlers home alone for a weekend while you and your hubby do the Las Vegas strip, but seriously, taking care of your own physical and emotional needs is in and of itself, a gift of love. By taking care of ourselves, we show our children that we are all responsible for own well being and happiness. By taking care of ourselves, we develop healthy habits and a support network. In the long run, we won’t *need* our kids to take care of us or come to our rescue. We’ll have the financial, physical and emotional resources to take care of ourselves.
We all need people and for sure adult children can be considered part of your support network, but they should not BE your support network. It isn’t healthy for either parent or child and it is an unrealistic expectation of the child. Giving them life and raising them was a gift, not a debt that had to be repaid.
Trust me on this, I speak from experience.
2 thoughts on “Taking Care of Yourself – Gift to Your Children”
Lee – Thank you for the post. Very interesting. My parents’ philosophy was they she had to get us to 21 and then their job was done. As we grew from teen to adult, my mother in particular made a seamless transition. The mother-child relationship faded and was replace with a relationship between two adults. It was a little tougher for my dad but he figured it out as well. All three of us are close with both parents but not dependent.
In the past year my mother’s Alzheimer’s has progressed to the point where my parents need more of our help and support. I don’t look at it as a debt or obligation, it is just part and parcel of being a family. Take care, Susan
Not all parents make the transition as seamlessly. Your parents had each other during the years when you and your siblings were making your own lives. I’d dare say your parents also made preparations for their “Golden Years”. Again, not all parents do that, I would agree with you that there are some things (good and bad) that come with being “family”, but when it is more bad than good and you are the only one shouldering the weight, it can be overwhelming. I am speaking somewhat obtusely here again due to privacy concerns. There is much more I’d like to say, but I struggle with the dance of what is my story and what is someone else’s.