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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Unneeded Sacrifice...


Becoming a parent means, in more aspects than not, becoming second. It often means that making sacrifices for your child(ren) is a given, as the welfare of the life you have created and brought in this world takes priority over anything you might want for yourself. Your wants and needs become meaningless and take the backseat to what you want for your kid (stay with me when I say “things YOU want” and not “things THEY want”). While good parenting should be selfless, it should not be taken to martyrdom state!

“The trouble with learning to parent on the job is that your child is the teacher”. 

~Robert Brault

If any of you are my Facebook friends, you’ll remember that a few weeks ago I posted a conversation that happened between me and “the hubby,” where I suggested he put a tattoo of my name on him. Before he was able to interject, my daughter, very matter-of-factly, asked me why her dad should ever do that, as there are no guarantees that we will be together forever. Then, she ended her rant by saying she would never do such a thing…

I’ve been thinking about that conversation quite often, not only because at the time it had left me speechless, but on one hand, I was glad to hear that (at her young age) she had already formed an opinion on a matter which I actually truly agree with. On the other hand, I was very saddened that she would be (and sounded) okay with the idea that no relationship is meant to be forever. But the more I thought about it, I started wondering why my 9 year old was able to put coherently, nonchalantly and with ease, thoughts together that would summarize the possibility of her parents not being together any longer. Was it because she felt unaffected by the possibility of “forever” not happening or was it because she felt so secure in our relationship and commitment that she could easily speak about a possibility that would never be? The latter reason appeals to me more…

The more I dug deeper into what happened (into her reply), the more I realize that kids thrive and glean things from both parents, not as 1 entity but as what we are; 2 bodies, 2 minds, 2 souls, and 2 characters… All this, while bound together by 1 commitment, we are still individuals.

Children learn about relationships and behaviour within a relationship by looking at us. It is a fact that they will either emulate your conduct (right or wrong) if it rings true to them or they will do the complete opposite. However, it is also factual that as their parent and their role model, your behaviour will shape theirs…

I strongly believe the reason why she felt so comfortable saying and not thinking it, is because she feels and knows that in our lives (the hubby and I) they come first and their security and happiness wouldn’t be second with either mom or dad. She knows that, even if mom and dad weren’t together… and that she doesn’t have to worry about either one of our well-being’s if not together…

Let me explain my point:

I believe children feed themselves with vibes and moods that we project; if you are unhappy or happy, if you are hurt or in pain, if your emotions are up and down like a roller-coaster; their emotions will be in tune with yours. If you have low self-esteem, if you are dependant (in all aspects, but especially emotionally) on your spouse/partner, your child will also sense that and feel as though they need to be protective of the weaker half of the team and hold the stronger half responsible of all.

I’ve always believed and stated that parents in relationships (marriage or common law) should never stay together and enact a parody of happiness and togetherness for the sake of their child(ren). We do owe it to them to try and work through whatever troubles and doubts we are having in our relationship. We owe it to them to unfold and look into any glimpse of “maybe.”  We do owe it to them to make sure that there is no hope for recovery left. But mostly, we owe them the commitment of keeping their welfare and happiness our first priority. That for me doesn’t mean staying in a relationship where anyone involved is miserable and unhappy; it mean keeping a level of respect, communication and compromising between the adults involved in the failing relationship. That would allow the kids to not witness any bitterness, any resentment, or any ill will (if present), allowing them to feel confident that if mom and dad are not together any longer, there are both okay as single parents, which would make them also okay…
Of course a child’s first organic choice would be for their parents to be and stay together, however, as parents we also have to realize that our children are very intuitive and more resilient than we think, and be very careful of the message we send in any decisions we make…

Talking with a good friend of mine about the subject, she shared with me how that now in her adult life, she is still affected by the unhealthy relationship her parents had and how they had them (as kids) openly witness all the ugliness within the relationship. As a consequence, her view of relationships is quite skewed and is a scary territory to proceed into. This proves my point that in most instances, although to stay together and be together is the ultimate display of commitment, we should show our kids it is not always the healthiest one. A two-parent home dynamic does not guarantee healthy successful offspring; single parent homes at times, are just as much if not more successful.

In most circumstances, sacrificing yourself for the “sake” of your kids happiness is a selfless act we naturally display almost as a reflex but in the case of maintaining the “home” front appearance, that would really have ramifications more damaging on yourself and eventually on your child (the guilt of knowing mom and dad stayed in an unhappy relation just for me)…
While we all want what’s best for our kid(s), we should gage the limit of the amount of “covering up” we do to “spare” them, as they might grow up to think life will always be perfect      and the world will always rise up to their needs and wants…and we know when that wake-up call happens, it will be a hard one…
The lesson is to not self-sacrifice but to show strength which is what you want them to feed off of…                                                                                                                                                                                                                

It's not only children who grow.  Parents do too.  As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours.  I can't tell my children to reach for the sun.  All I can do is reach for it, myself.  ~Joyce Maynard


RosieSandz

This article is part of my guest writing project for the website Tarisikoki.com, visit the site for more entries by talented writers.
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