Last week, I asked readers... if you were seriously hungry, had one bite of food available, your kid had just eaten but asked you for that one bite... what would you do?
The winner of the "eat or defeat" poll (by just seven votes) was to eat it and explain that mommy needs food too. Splitting it in half came in a close second. 21% of you said you'd shove it in your mouth and yell "sucka." Not so great for the kids psyche but it certainly made me chuckle!
Eat it and explain mommy needs food too. 37%
Split it in half 31%
Shove it in your mouth and yell "sucka." 21%
Give it up, kids come first. 11%
Why did I such a random question?
When I first became a mom, I was absolutely, 100% in the mindset that a good mom would "give it up, kids come first." I lived and breathed the theory that the more uncomfortable I was, the better I was at being a mom. In fact, I would find myself annoyed when Jeff didn't subscribe to the same way of life, making his own needs a priority as well. It was like I saw my sacrifice as living proof that I loved them more than anything or anyone.
I don't know if it's experience, exhaustion, or a combination of the two, but my attitude has changed quite a bit since then. Of course I would still do absolutely anything for my kids but I now see the tremendous benefit of them realizing that mom and dad matter too. I think it's crucial to them becoming caring, empathetic, generous adults that they learn at a young age that it's not always about them.
I remember the battle that ensued on my blog months ago when I said I wanted to use the bathroom without a toddler on my lap -- the commenter accusing me of not being there enough for my daughter because she didn't have access to my arms for 30 seconds at a time. Ten months after coming home to us, my happy, independent daughter knows she is loved yet realizes that, like her brothers, sometimes she can't have everything she wants every second she wants it.
I regularly see parents who bend over backwards to constantly do for their kids. But the result is not always what they intended it to be. Instead of it making the kids feel loved and cared for, it creates a sense of entitlement and expectation, something that carries on throughout the rest of their lives. Praise, rewards and accolades are important, but no more so than frustrating your kids. In fact, some would argue it's our duty, the best way to show our kids we love them is to have them do for themselves. But where's the line between creating strong, self-sufficient members of society and sending them to therapy?