There is a new vibe going around regarding parenting that is gives me hope that I might enjoy child-rearing one day. This vibe and philosophy is for anyone interested in or invested in parenting but afraid of losing their identity or the relationship they have with their partner in the wake of their parenthood status. I’m sure that parenting is a crazy ebb and flow of selflessness, gathering your wits, laughing and doubting yourself a good amount of the time, but even with all of that going on, some people still put a tremendous amount of pressure on themselves because of the kind of parent they think they should be or how they think a certain kind of childhood environment creates and enables a certain kind of child. The encouraging philosophy that could help a lot of people stay sane while raising children is the idea that the children don’t come first. (Here is an article that was pretty controversial a few years ago). There is so much misconstrued in that phrase – children don’t come first – and so much judgment, guilt, and shame comes with the thought that you might enjoy if a child isn’t the center of your world. If a parent fosters their own identity, hobbies, and health as well as puts their partner before their child (for those parents who have a partner), this represents to your children that they should look inward for happiness and not sacrifice yourself but build yourself and your love up. Your kids will see that they should fulfill their dreams and their soul, and while I’m not a firm believer in soulmates, I do believe their is a partnership between two souls when they marry. Loving yourself and putting your partner before your child keeps you happy and, thus, keeps a better harmony and sanity in a family.
However, if everyone had a nuclear family with the same rules and philosophies, people would start to implode from the pressure. What I’m saying is haters gonna hate. And there are studies that say that putting your child first does actually make a parent happier. Be good and take naps when you can. Take responsibility for the way your child(ren) behaves. Give them chores and responsibilities so they don’t become hedonistic little buggers looking for their next fix. Put your kids first when it comes to supporting their identity and independence and safety. This article also points out that there is a fine line between caring for yourself to be the best for yourself and your family and being slightly neglectful. There are so many perspectives and opinions on the way we all get by, so the most important thing is staying in tune to yourself and your partner and your faith and your child(ren). To each his own, and that is the point. My hope for people reading this isn’t to make anyone feel like their doing it wrong (life, love, family) but to give you some relief knowing that putting yourself and/or your partner’s relationship first is not a selfish, horrible thing to do, and it won’t screw your kids up. I mean, everyone is “screwed” up or disappointed in something one way or another, but with that in mind, the best thing we can all do for ourselves is to give ourselves a break.