Often heard amongst moms and dads alike is the concept that parents take a back seat in the priority list to the children. Parents habitually put aside hobbies, passions, relationships to focus on the child rearing at hand. The argument is that kids are vulnerable and dependent upon the parental units and it is our obligation to care for the needs of the needy before our own. I can relate to both sides of this argument. The other side of the coin being parents who care for personal needs and desires first and then work around the kids. The belief here is a happy and content person makes for a better parent. A person who makes sure personal needs are met is better able to meet the needs of the child. Certainly pros and cons can be found in both ways of thinking, but it all boils down to what works best for each parent/child relationship.
The People Pleaser
Some parents can be categorized as people pleasers. It is certainly not a requirement to be a parent in order to be a people pleaser, but for the sake of this article I will focus on the parental people pleasers (say that five times fast). These parents care for the kids ahead of themselves. We are the, “It’s 5:00pm and I have not showered yet,” or, “Yes, you can have that new toy, just let me put back my fancy eye cream,” type of parents. We will bend over backwards in an effort to do for our children, our family, while we place ourselves on the bottom of our priority list. Some may take offense to the idea of children getting spoiled while parents treat themselves as doormats.
Alas, this is not exactly how this type of parenting works. The word no is not a foreign concept to my children, yet, I consider myself a pleaser parent….big time. I do for them what I can do, without compromising morals and values. What I do not do is take care of myself first. I am usually on the bottom of my priority list. I have mixed emotions about this. At times I feel it is for the best, and at other times I feel I have put myself in a bad pattern of behavior. Not my children’s behavior, but my own.
Top O’The List
In contrast to the people pleasing parent, the top o’the list parent takes care of themselves first and then the children. It is a priority to the top lister to work out, shower, eat regular meals all while teaching the children their needs will be met, next. Some may view these people as selfish, others view these parents and leading through example. Teaching children not to place more value on others than themselves.
In order for children to grow into adults that value themselves, do they not have to learn to make themselves their own top priority? It is an age old question that many can argue about until the cows come home. Placing value on ones self first, or placing value on putting others needs first. Which is right? Which is more effective? What are parents to do??
The answer my friends is blowing in the wind, not really, but hey if you have made it this far a little joke might be nice. The answer is what works best for each family. Some kids thrive knowing there is always a parent ready to catch them when they fall. They feel safe and secure which fosters the desire to reach for independence. Other children learn to make themselves their own top priority very early and develop a go getter type of personality. What works best is what works for each family. The important aspect is that each parent listen, learn, and grow with their children in order to learn what every family member needs in order to thrive.